Asparagus for a Healthy Life: Fact or Urban Legend?

Clagett Pre-Share 2008

Asparagus – Health Food

 

 

 

 

 

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In line with my goal of bringing you ideas for a Successful, Happy and Healthy LIfe, here is a tip for a Healthy Life.

The medicinal properties of many plants have been known since man started walking upright, probably before. Animals select plants to alleviate certain conditions.Think of cats and dogs eating grass (not a food source for carnivores) to induce vomiting. There is evidence to suggest that wild horses and possibly other grazing animals seek out specific types of plants to help them kill internal parasites.

Yesterday, I learned some new information about asparagus.

In a previous life, I worked for the food division of one of the largest industrial conglomerates in South Africa. One of the businesses in that division was the major producer of asparagus in the country and on that continent. It was large by global standards.

Asparagus is difficult to grow in tropical or subtropical climates, it prefers the temperate conditions of Europe or North America. However parts of South Africa do experience similar conditions – as evidenced by the successful grape and wine industry in the Western Cape. Some parts experience winter temperatures well below freezing, I have witnessed -9 C and I recall seeing -13C on the weather report for a particularly cold part of the country.

Because of the less than ideal growing conditions and resulting short production season, fresh Asparagus was scarce and expensive, a large part of the production was canned. Canned Asparagus was available year round, at a reasonable price and promoted heavily. Its image changed from a luxury food for the rich and famous, an image I remember from childhood, to a popular vegetable in many households.

With my exposure to asparagus through my job, I became a regular consumer. That habit persisted years after that chapter of my life ended. Arriving in Canada and living next to one of the largest Asparagus growers in the province with a longer growing season and low prices, I have continued to be a regular Asparagus consumer.

I eat Asparagus because I like it and because I believe in eating a variety of vegetables and fruit, I have always thought that it was one of the healthier foods to eat but had not researched its many specific health benefits.

Yesterday, a friend passed on a report about anecdotal evidence to suggest that Asparagus may be beneficial in helping patients suffering from certain types of cancer, kidney infections and other medical conditions. It mentions that Asparagus contains a good supply of the protein, histones and has been reported as containing high levels of Glutathione, considered a potent anti-carcinogen and antioxidant.

The report quotes a number of case histories of remarkable cures, it also mentions that back in 1739 the power of Asparagus to dissolve kidney stones had been observed in experiments.

The stories in the report sounded almost too good to be true, time to check it out on snopes.com.

The report that was given to me is published in full on the snopes page here Asparagus Cancer Cure. It points out that this particular story has been doing the rounds on the internet since 2006 and the article supposedly printed in “Cancer News Journal” in 1979 has not been located.

Is Asparagus the potential cancer cure this report claims? Or is it folk-lore?

It seems that Asparagus is a healthy food to eat, it is rich in several vitamins and minerals, low in calories and is a source of Glutathione. It certainly will not do us any harm and even a slight improvement in our defence against cancer surely is worth having, that is good enough for me.

What do you think?

Peter Wright

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  2 comments for “Asparagus for a Healthy Life: Fact or Urban Legend?

  1. Roberta H
    February 24, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    I love asparagus too. In fact, I love most vegetables. It is interesting you wrote and posted this on the very same day I published a post on ‘Super Foods’ on my blog. Fact is, there are no real ‘super foods.’ That term is a marketing term, not a nutritional term. Many vegetables have healthy qualities. Unfortunately, many of the nutrients begin to fade and lose potency before picked. Once picked the nutrients also lose even more of their nutritional value. To get the most nutrients veggies have to be eaten almost as soon as they are picked. Freezing and canning can help preserve some nutrients. That is why so many canning and freezing factories are so near to farms. In fact, in many ways canned and frozen fruits and veggies have more nutrients that fresh if they have been sent clear across the continent or around the world.

    There is also some research that says to get some of the medicinal – as opposed to just nutritional – values from veggies and food in general would mean you would have to eat pounds and pounds of such food.

    None of this means nor should be taken as eating vegetables are useless. They are still healthy and good for you.

    I believe the trick is to eat anything you like all in moderation. It is also good to eat a colorful diet…that is eat as many different colors of food as you can each day….and no, Skittles do not count!

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