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Health Benefits of Asparagus (White and Green Spears)

Asparagus juice may be all the rage these days, but you sure don't have to send those lovely spears through a juicer to reap the health benefits of this superfood! Whole asparagus spears, whether green or white, are loaded with beneficial nutrients and phytochemicals, including carotenoids, folate, vitamin K, asparagine and glutathione. White asparagus spears are also a rich source of protodioscin, a compound that has been shown to exert aphrodisiac effects in animals, while green asparagus is supercharged with rutin, a flavonoid that may provide benefits for people with varicose veins.

To get the whole scoop on the health benefits of eating asparagus spears, keep reading.

Asparagus – A Low Calorie Food with Diuretic Effects

Weighing in at only 22 calories per a 100-gram portion, cooked asparagus is a real champion among low-calorie vegetables and a great choice for people who are trying to lose weight. In addition, asparagus has proven diuretic properties which is why some people use asparagus spears and asparagus juice to reduce temporary weight gain caused by water retention. These diuretic effects have been largely attributed to the presence of asparagine in asparagus spears. This amino acid is also indirectly responsible for the smelly urine you may notice after eating asparagus. Tip: Favor green and white asparagus spears over purple asparagus if your goal is to lose weight – purple asparagus has been shown to contain significantly more sugar than its green and white counterparts.

Claims About the Aphrodisiac Properties of Asparagus May Hold True

For centuries, folk healers around the world have lauded the aphrodisiac benefits of asparagus. But recent evidence suggests that the reputation of asparagus as lovers' food may in fact have some scientific basis. A study published in the August 2002 issue of the journal Life Sciences found that protodioscin, a compound that is abundant in asparagus and a few other plants, increased sexual behavior in rats, probably due to the androgen-increasing properties of protodioscin which had been observed in earlier studies. Another study, published in the November/December 2010 issue of the Journal of Food Science, reported that white asparagus and the crown of the asparagus spears were particularly good sources of this potentially aphrodisiac substance.

A Superfood Loaded with Anti-Cancer Compounds

Protodioscin, the same compound that is believed to be responsible for asparagus' aphrodisiac effects, may also provide some health benefits for people who are looking to reduce their risk of cancer. A study published in the June 2003 edition of the journal Cancer Investigation found that protodioscin has anti-cancer activity against most of the tested cancer cell lines. But protodioscin is hardly the only potential cancer-fighting compound abundant in asparagus. This juicy superfood is also packed with glutathione, a beneficial compound that has been shown to detoxify cancer-causing substances, boost the immune system, and prevent cellular damage caused by free radicals.

Green Asparagus – A Remedy for Varicose Veins?

Asparagus, particularly green asparagus, may also offer benefits for people with varicose veins. The same study that singled out white asparagus as a top source of protodioscin found that green asparagus contains exceptionally high levels of rutin, a bioflavonoid that has been extensively researched as a potential dietary remedy for varicose veins. The potential beneficial effects of rutin containing foods and rutin supplements for people suffering from varicose veins or venous insufficiency are thought to be linked to the ability of this powerful bioflavonoid to strengthen capillary walls.

Asparagus - The Next Superfood?

Proven Beauty Benefits

A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found an inverse association between asparagus consumption and skin wrinkling, suggesting that eating asparagus may also provide beauty benefits. The benefits of asparagus for the skin may be linked to its strong antioxidant capacity: data provided by USDA suggests that only a handful of vegetables – including superfoods like artichoke hearts, red cabbage, and red leaf lettuce – have more in-vitro antioxidant power than asparagus (measured as ORAC units).

Potential Cardiovascular Benefits

If you're still not impressed by the health benefits of asparagus, then consider this: asparagus spears and juice are also jam-packed with folate and vitamin K, a nutrient combo with interesting cardiovascular benefits. Folate appears to promote cardiovascular health by breaking down homocysteine, an amino acid that is thought to promote hardening of the arteries, while vitamin K pushes calcium into your bones, preventing it from depositing in the blood vessel walls.

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