Nutritional Information for Asparagus

Asparagus is packed with antioxidants and phytochemicals. It’s naturally low in calories – only 40 calories per cup! Just a 1/2 cup provides almost half of daily folate needs. Asparagus is one of those vegetables known for leaving a weird smell in the urine after eating it, but it’s kind of cool considering the chemical reaction. Note, some folks don’t produce the ability to smell the stinky pee because they just don’t have the sensors on their nose. Nutritional science can get confusing, but one fact is certain, eating more vegetables is generally always a good idea for health and longevity.

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Benefits of Asparagus

Cancer Prevention Benefits

There is not much data, if any, on prostate cancer and asparagus consumption. There is some data on other cancers. Some of the natural dietary components in asparagus and other vegetables, such as grapes, black currant, plum, pomegranate, cruciferous vegetables, French beans, tomatoes, asparagus, garlic, turmeric, ginger, soy, rice bran, and some mushrooms, have been found to affect the development and progression of liver cancer. It seems to be protective in many ways. 1) Stopping tumor growth and spread, 2) protecting against liver carcinogens and, 3) enhancing the actions of cancer medications. Men eating more asparagus and other plant foods have been shown to have less risk of liver cancer.

 

One study looked at the DNA damage that occurs from cooked meat carcinogens on healthy white blood cells and the white blood cells of those with colon cancer. The researchers applied plant compounds like quercetin and rutin to see if it could halt the damaging effects of the carcinogens. Even when researchers pumped tons of carcinogens into the cells, plant compounds helped stop the progression of DNA damage. Asparagus is one of those vegetables high in rutin and may be helpful for colon cancer patients. One interesting note about this study was that there was more DNA damage in the white blood cells of colon cancer patients vs healthy individuals. Remember, these folks had colon cancer not blood cancer, however, it turned out that the level of inflammation was already higher in cancer patients. This just means that having cancer alone will jumpstart the immune system and affect the whole body. Cancer induces oxidative stress and higher DNA damage. This might mean that cancer patients need even more food antioxidants than normal people to help rid their body of DNA damage and reduce the risk of a recurrence.

Men's Health Benefits

Cooking asparagus helps bind some of the bile acids used to digest fat and send them off in the stool. This may help improve cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease and even some cancers.  

Ways to Use Asparagus

+ Add to vegetable stir-frys

+ Roast or grill with seasonings and/or lemon juice

+ Chop small and add to raw salads for a crunch

Resources for Asparagus

American Institute for Cancer Research: www.aicr.org

Nutrition Facts: www.nutritionfacts.org

Physicians Committee: www.pcrm.org

USDA Nutrient Database: Asparagus

Citations
  1. Kahlon T, Chiu M, Chapman M. Steam cooking significantly improves in vitro bile acid binding of beets, eggplant, asparagus, carrots, green beans, and cauliflower. Nutr Res. 2007. Volume 27, Issue 12, December 2007, Pages 750–755.
  2. Mitchell SC. Food idiosyncrasies: beetroot and asparagus. Drug Metab Dispos. 2001;29(4 Pt 2):539-43.
  3. Zhou Y, Li Y, Zhou T, Zheng J, Li S, Li HB. Dietary Natural Products for Prevention and Treatment of Liver Cancer. Nutrients. 2016;8(3).
  4. Kurzawa-Zegota M, Najafzadeh M, Baumgartner A, Anderson D. The protective effect of the flavonoids on food-mutagen-induced DNA damage in peripheral blood lymphocytes from colon cancer patients. Food Chem Toxicol. 2012;50(2):124-9.

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