Before I start in on the nutritional benefits of asparagus, I’ll get the strange stuff out of the way first. You know – that whole thing about why your pee smells weird when you eat asparagus. Not that I would know, but aren’t you interested?
Oh? You didn’t know that? Maybe you’re one of those people who a) doesn’t eat asparagus – at least not in large enough quantities, or b) your body doesn’t form thiol chemicals.
Here’s the “abstract” explanation according to scientists from the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Birmingham in England.
“The pungent urinary odour produced by certain individuals within a few hours of eating asparagus has been shown to be due to a combination of up to six sulphur-containing alkyl compounds identified as methanethiol, dimethyl sulphide, dimethyl disulphide, bis-(methylthio)methane, dimethyl sulphoxide and dimethyl sulphone. The possible roles of S-methylmethionine and asparagusic acid as precursors of these odorous substances are discussed in relation to the known chemistry of the vegetable.”
Those Brits are an interesting bunch, aren’t they?
Back to seasonal foods, of which asparagus is one of the tastiest and most nutritious for April. The peak season runs from April through May. You can buy asparagus from South America in the fall and winter, but that doesn’t exactly qualify as “buying local.”
One cup of steamed asparagus is only 43 calories and is absolutely packed with health-promoting nutrients. It’s high in antioxidants, is an excellent source of vitamin K and the energy-producing B vitamins, is rich in sleep-promoting tryptophan, and is loaded with calcium and magnesium, which helps maintain bone strength. Asparagus also contains lots of fiber and inulin, which we don’t digest, but it does become snack food for our friendly bacteria. We want our good bacteria to overcome our bad bacteria. Can’t you just imagine the microscopic turf war going on in your gut? Well, maybe not, but trust me, we want the good guys to win and inulin provides strength to the army.
sauteed asparagus and garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch fresh asparagus (rinse and pat dry), ends trimmed
3 cloves garlic (finely chopped) *
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
preheat oven to 425 degrees
Toss asparagus with olive oil and garlic. Place in glass baking dish; season with salt and pepper. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until asparagus is tender and lightly browned. Stir occasionally. Remove from oven and toss with lemon juice.
* Research shows that mincing or finely chopping garlic enhances the health-promoting benefits. Once chopped, a chemical reaction occurs releasing the pungent “garlicy” smell along with a substance called allicin, which provides garlic with its powerful antibacterial and antiviral characteristics. To get the most benefit from allicin, let the finely chopped garlic sit for 5 to 10 minutes before cooking. This allows the chemical reaction to take place allowing the allicin to form. It’s worth the wait!
other seasonal foods for April
In good health,