Spears to your health!

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Asparagus is so crazy good for you. One extra large fat-free spear contains a gram of fiber, and weighs in at just 5 calories. It’s also a good source of complete protein, with a gram of protein per spear. Eat just ten spears and you’ll obviously get 10 grams of protein, 10 grams of fiber, and also 40% of your recommended daily Vitamin A and 30% of your daily iron, all for just 50 calories! It’s also a good source of manganese, copper and selenium.

How do you like to prepare your asparagus? I find that the “stinky pee” is decreased if you eat it raw or barely cooked. Enjoy your asparagus raw over a tossed salad with a balsamic vinaigrette; it’s delicious as a cooked vegetable over salad too. I’ve always loved it on the grill with olive oil and a little salt and pepper.

Similar to beet ingestion and the development of pink-colored beeturia (yes, that’s it’s real name!), asparagus also results in “stinky pee” in about 79% of Americans, generating a smell like rotten cabbage. Some people who produce the “stinky pee” also genetically lack the ability to smell the stinky compounds themselves, and therefore have no idea what you are talking about when you bring up urine at an upcoming cocktail party. Maybe it’s best not to bring it up.

Stinky pee, like beeturia, serves as a great reminder to me that these phytonutrients found in plants circulate throughout my body and provide their healthy benefits in many different systems. Rather than being benign, I bet “stinky pee” and beeturia will someday be found to be protective. Beeturia and “stinky pee” probably contain chemicals that reduce the risk of certain urinary tract cancers. We already know that bile accumulation increases cancer risk, and asparagus is one of the best vegetables at binding and removing carcinogenic bile acids from the GI tract before they can be absorbed into the body and deposited in fatty tissues, like breasts. You guessed it – breast cancer victims have higher concentrations of bile in their breast tissue than women without breast cancer.

Dr. Mary is the co-founder of Get Waisted, and an internal medicine MD. She can’t get enough asparagus this time of year, and has absolutely nothing against “stinky pee.” For great asparagus recipes, community support, and weekly newsletters, join our supportive community!

Posted on by Mary Clifton, MD

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