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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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January 30, 2008

Smart Fuel: Asparagus

By Worker Bee
11 Comments

Used for cooking and medicinal purposes for over 2,000 years, asparagus is one nutritious perennial garden plant! See, and you thought all it was good for was turning your pee green!

Among its many health benefits, asparagus logs off-the-charts levels of Vitamin K (more than 115% recommended daily allowance (RDA) per 1 cup serving!), which is important for heart health and calcium regulation. In addition, asparagus also boasts high levels of folate that, when combined with Vitamins B6 and B12 (as is the case in asparagus), can protect against heart disease and other cardiac ailments. Asparagus also contains a hefty dose of potassium, which combines with an amino acid called asparagines to cause a diuretic effect as well as a healthy type of carbohydrate called inulin that clears the intestinal tract of unhealthy bacteria and promotes good digestive health.

But a discussion about asparagus wouldn’t be complete without some serious details on the effects it has on urine. Quite boringly, the green color is the result of simple chlorophyll (the chemical that gives all green vegetables their hue), but the smell? Well, that’s a little more complex. Turns out asparagus contains a type of sulfur called mercaptan which, interestingly enough, is the same chemical that gives onions, garlic, spoiled eggs and even skunk secretions their odor. When asparagus is consumed, this chemical is broken down in the gut, leading to less-than-sweet-smelling urine. Never experienced sour smelling pee? Not to worry, turns out about a third of people don’t have the gene for the enzyme that breaks down mercaptan, meaning that it leaves them – and their pee – relatively unaffected.

Moving out of the bathroom and into the kitchen, asparagus comes in green, white and even purple varieties (although the purple does turn green during cooking.) When selecting asparagus, look for thin, firm stalks and deep green or purple-tinged tips. To store, wrap the base of the asparagus in a damp paper towel and store in a plastic bag at the back of the fridge (since exposure to light can compromise the folate content of the vegetable). When ready to cook, asparagus is delicious steamed, broiled or sautéed with a light sprinkling of olive oil and sea salt or a simple spritz of lemon juice.

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Esteban Cavrico Flickr Photo (CC)

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10 Comments on "Smart Fuel: Asparagus"

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Donna
Donna
8 years 7 months ago

I Love Asparagus! It’s a great side dish or toss it in a stir fry, i’ve done that a few times, very good!

Dave C.
8 years 7 months ago

How does canned asparagus compare to fresh as far as nutrients go?

Scott Kustes
8 years 7 months ago

Mmm…asparagus. And the lovely smell of my urine afterwards. You should remind readers that vitamin K is fat-soluble and thus, readers shouldn’t be scared of adding a good dose of olive oil over the top to help with absorption. I bet the low-fatters would choke thinking of putting something like oil on vegetables.

Scott Kustes
Modern Forager

tatsujin
8 years 7 months ago

Wrap a lightly grilled asparagus with smoked salmon. It’s unbelievable.

DaveC,
Hard to find canned without added salt etc.
Stay with the fresh goods imho.

T.

Primal Toad
6 years 2 months ago

I love asparagus! When in season here in Michigan, I buy it just about every time I go to the farmers market.

Jeff
5 years 10 months ago

These also taste great raw

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Mark T
Mark T
7 months 2 days ago

Is ok to eat it raw?

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