May 6, 2016


 I read an email touting the cancer killing properties of asparagus last week. After looking on the web, found that it originated in 2006 and has been long since debunked, but still keeps floating around. Below are a few facts about cancer and asparagus that are true.

According to Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, "There is no evidence that certain foods alter the environment of an existing cancer, at the cellular level, and cause it to either die or grow."

The odor causing ingredient in asparagus has long been known. Benjamin Franklin stated in a 1781 letter to the Royal Academy of Brussels, “A few stems of asparagus eaten, shall give our urine a disagreable odour (sic).”

According to Carolyn O’Neil on Web MD, “Researchers believe that, during digestion, the vegetable’s sulfurous amino acids break down into smelly chemical components in all people.” Within 15 to 30 minutes of eating asparagus, the odor can be present.

In 2010, the genetic sequencing company 23andMe conducted a study in which they asked 10,000 customers if they noticed any scent in their urine after eating asparagus, and looked for genetic similarities among those who could not. This peculiarity appears to stem from a single genetic mutation, a switched base-pair among a cluster of 50 different genes that code for olfactory (sense of smell) receptors.

On a positive note of the benefits, women have long known that asparagus is a wonderful natural diuretic.

An easy way to oven-roast, preheat the oven to 450, mix trimmed asparagus with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast in a single layer in a pan, or on aluminum foil for 10 – 15 minutes. I prefer foil, as it is easy to roll up and toss, no washing necessary.

It is best to store the stalks whole and unwashed, in a standing glass of water and place the glass on a refrigerator shelf with the tips sticking out. You can place the vegetable in a sealed plastic bag in fridge vegetable drawer if you will be using quickly. It is usually good for about five to seven days.

For a longer term option, asparagus may be frozen for 6-8 months, but should be cooked or blanched first and placed in freezer safe containers.

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