Asparagus is a long, thin green vegetable, about the length of a finger. The knobbly tips are the best-tasting part of the plant – some people discard the other ends, which can become woody. It can be boiled, but also roasted, griddled or fried with olive oil and butter, and goes particularly well with salmon and new potatoes. It tastes delicious, but how does it benefit your body?
One of the main benefits of asparagus is that it’s great when detoxing. It is low in calories, which is perfect if the aim of your detox is to lose some weight. It is also a very good source of vitamin E, which promotes skin regeneration, and fibre, which helps your body process toxicants you may have previously consumed; it is also low in sodium. In short, asparagus is one of nature’s detox foods.
Asparagus, like other green vegetables, has high levels of folates. These are particularly vital for women who are trying to conceive or who are pregnant. Eating folates reduces the risk of birth defects and spina bifida, as well as reducing the likelihood of having a premature birth. Although pregnant women are well advised to take a folic acid supplements, eating plenty of asparagus is a good way to up your folate intake. Asparagus is also said to increase milk flow in nursing mothers, and act to reduce cramps in women who are pre-menstrual. There’s also a bizarre urban myth in circulation that eating asparagus can cause a false positive on a pregnancy test – this is untrue.
Since ancient times, asparagus has also been believed to be an aphrodisiac – perhaps because of its phallic appearance! Although its unlikely to have an instant effect, asparagus is full of potassium, vitamins and other minerals which are essential for a healthy sex life. Although asparagus is traditionally linked to the male libido, and in some cultures was given to the bridegroom ahead of his wedding night, many of its vitamins are also essential to women.
Although asparagus is noted for causing strange-smelling urine, it actually does more good than harm to your body’s ability to process liquids. Asparagus is excellent at preventing urinary tract infections. It also acts to reduce the risk of kidney stones and problems with the bladder, and generally helps to flush out toxicants from your body
Some men believe that asparagus can halt their hair loss – or at least reduce the speed at which they become bald. There’s very little scientific research to support this. However, the folates, sulphurs and other vitamins which cause the more established benefits of asparagus are also linked to healthy hair growth. At the very least, it’s unlikely to be harmful to your locks!
Asparagus can be found in most supermarkets, and usually comes into season in late spring or early summer. It is also readily available canned or in olive oil. However, it’s said to be particularly healthy when the raw fruit is juiced and consumed either on its own or as part of a smoothie.