Because of its taste, asparagus is an extremely popular food that is also very healthy. Nutritionist Carly Sedlacek from the Cleveland Clinic in the United States explains why asparagus is so healthy and the variety of benefits that come with eating it.
Asparagus contains lots of fiber, antioxidants, minerals and various important vitamins. In addition, asparagus contains no cholesterol and only a few calories and fat, reports the expert.
Fiber improves digestion
The two types of fiber contained in asparagus provide various health benefits. For example, they improve digestion and lower cholesterol levels.
The insoluble fiber ensures, among other things, regular bowel movements, while the soluble fiber in asparagus serves as food for healthy bacteria in the intestinal flora.
Eating cooked asparagus also reduces colon inflammation (colitis), according to a study, with a flavonoid called rutin appearing to play an important role. However, further studies are needed to determine whether this effect also occurs in humans, Sedlacek adds.
Lowers blood pressure
Asparagus contains potassium, which is involved in lowering blood pressure by excreting excess sodium. When there is too much sodium in the body, it can increase blood pressure.
Existing high blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, according to the nutritionist.
Potassium also has the advantage of reducing the tension in the blood vessel walls, which has a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system. For example, a study in rats found that a 10-week diet high in asparagus was associated with lower blood pressure.
Among other things, eating asparagus was associated with lower activity of the so-called angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) in the kidneys. This enzyme constricts blood vessels, which increases blood pressure. Therefore, so-called ACE inhibitors are often used to combat high blood pressure.
Eating asparagus seems to have a similar effect to ACE inhibitors and in laboratory models it lowered blood pressure similarly effectively, but in a natural way without the need to take medication, reports the expert.
Asparagus helps with hangovers
Asparagus has two enzymes that another study shows are particularly helpful when suffering from a hangover from drinking alcohol. These enzymes improve the body’s ability to process alcohol and protect the liver from its toxic effects, explains Sedlacek.
Asparagus can also improve cholesterol levels. At least that’s what the results of another study on rats suggest, according to the expert. However, whether this also applies to humans still needs to be verified.
Antioxidants protect against free radicals
So-called free radicals can trigger oxidative stress in the body and damage or even irreparably destroy molecules, cells and tissue. If the DNA is damaged, this can also lead to mutations and cancer, reports Sedlacek.
Antioxidants help keep free radicals at bay by deactivating them so they no longer cause damage, and asparagus contains a variety of antioxidants. According to the expert, these include anthocyanins, flavonoids, glutathione, polyphenols and vitamins A, C, E and K.
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Supports a healthy pregnancy
A sufficient supply of the B vitamin folate during pregnancy is essential for the healthy development of the fetus, explains Sedlacek.
Folate reduces the likelihood of neural tube defects and diseases such as spina bifida and is also essential for the formation of DNA. A lack of folate can also result in a type of anemia, which is why it is generally important to ensure that sufficient intake is consumed.
Why does urine smell strange after consuming asparagus?
The expert also explains why urine smells strange after consuming asparagus. The smell arises from the breakdown of the aspartic acid contained in it, explains Sedlacek in a press release. Although this is associated with an unpleasant smell, it is in no way harmful to the body. (as)