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Asparagus, also known as sparrow grass, aspharagos or spearage, is a favorite vegetable of many cultures around the world.
In his popular book, “Stalking The Wild Asparagus,” renowned naturalist Euell Gibbons advised that the wild asparagus found in hedgerows and roadside ditches throughout America is the same species as domestic varieties. The wind, birds and other wildlife readily spread asparagus seeds.
History of Asparagus
Asparagus has had a rich world history as a favored food and a powerful medicine. In many cultures, the toasted seeds of the asparagus plant are brewed as a coffee substitute and chewed to relieve a toothache.
There are many different varieties of asparagus. Chinese asparagus (Cochinchinensis syn lucidus) and (Melanthium cochinchinensis) can be found referenced in medical textbooks written in 200 B.C. Ground dried asparagus roots called “tian men dong” were mixed with other herbs to treat specific conditions including low urine output, lung congestion, constipation, and impotence. Used internally, Chinese asparagus tonic is consumed for loss of libido, infertility, menstrual cramping, problems of menopause, stomach ulcers, hyperacidity of the stomach, dysentery, and bronchial infections.
A perennial plant, native to Asia Minor, North Africa, and the eastern Mediterranean, asparagus derives its name from the Greek word “asparagus,” meaning “sprout” or “shoot.” Asparagus is a member of the lily family, which includes garlic, onions, leeks, gladioli, and turnips. Asparagus is available in a variety of colors including, white, pink, yellow-green, violet-green, green, and deep purple.
The most luxuriant of all spring vegetables, asparagus grew in abundance in the gentle warmth of sunny Mediterranean hillsides. The Greeks feasted on fresh asparagus in early spring and dried the spears for winter dining. Although the Greeks loved wild asparagus, the Romans first cultivated the savored springtime delicacy. The Romans Emperors were so fond of asparagus; they maintained a special fleet of ships to transport it to their tables.
Asparagus became very popular in England and France during the 16th Century. The French say, “asparagus contains the taste of the sun.” Folklore associates asparagus with increased libido. During the Renaissance, the serving, growing, or consumption of asparagus was prohibited at nunneries, convents, and monasteries.
Add Asparagus To Your Diet For Optimum Health
A delicious vegetable prized since ancient times, asparagus is low in calories and high in crude fiber. Dieters love asparagus. A half-cup of fresh asparagus provides only 20 calories. There are only four calories in a single stalk. Asparagus is a negative calorie food; the body burns more calories digesting asparagus that it obtains from consuming the delicious vegetable.
If you are attempting to shed a few pounds, include generous amounts of asparagus in your diet. Asparagus is filling due to its high fiber content and provides a tasty snack for dipping and munching. Add to salads, soups, and entrees. Asparagus imparts a feeling of fullness that helps you resist the urge to snack on high calorie treats.
Amongst other vegetables, asparagus is a leading supplier of folic acid. A 5.3-ounce serving of steamed asparagus provides more than 60 percent of the recommended daily allowance of folic acid. Folic acid, also known as folacin, plays a significant role in the prevention of neural tube birth defects, such as spina bifida. These birth defects cause paralysis and death in more than 2,500 tiny infants a year. If expectant mothers receive adequate amounts of folic acid, these tragic deaths can be prevented.
Asparagus contains no cholesterol or fat and is very low in sodium. Asparagus is an excellent vegetable for persons on a salt restricted diet. Drizzle steamed asparagus with lemon juice or sprinkle with balsamic vinegar to bring out the tantalizing flavor.
An excellent source of potassium as well as thiamin and vitamin B6, asparagus is also a storehouse of rutin, a natural compound that strengthens capillary walls. Asparagus contains significant amounts of glutathione, also known as GSH, thought to protect against cancer.
Medicinal Benefits Of Wild Asparagus
Wild asparagus, also known as Shatavari asparagus (Asparagus racemosus) established a solid reputation in Asia, India, and Europe as a reliable botanical remedy. Soothing to the urinary tract, asparagus is a highly effective diuretic.
Prescribed to treat high blood pressure, kidney stones, and kidney disease, asparagus produces a pungent, characteristic odor in the urine of persons lacking the gene to break it down. The strong odor presents within 15 to 30 minutes after consumption.
The name Shatavari means “she who possesses a hundred husbands.” The name bestowed upon the plant reflects its impressive rejuvenating effects on the female reproductive system. Shatavari asparagus is native to western Africa, Australia, and southern Asia. When prescribed for kidney problems, simmer fresh asparagus in boiling water until tender.
Drain the cooked asparagus and set aside to add to soup or a casserole. Cool the water used to simmer the asparagus and sip as a beverage to promote urinary function. The liquid can be served over ice with a wedge of lemon, sweetened with honey and consumed as a hot tea. Properties in asparagus increase cellular production in the kidneys and increase urine output. Asparagus juice relieves lower back pain and soothes bladder infections.
Drinking asparagus liquid or consuming raw or cooked asparagus is one of the best remedies for gout. Properties in asparagus dissolve uric acid deposits in the extremities. Asparagus consumption brings relief to those suffering from rheumatism. The anti-inflammatory action of steroidal glucosides reduces symptomatic pain and swelling.
Widely prescribed for patients with cystitis, kidney disease, hypertension, enlarged heart, edema from heart failure, pyelitis, neuritis, and cancer, asparagus contains health-enhancing properties.
If you are juicing asparagus, it is best to include other mild flavored vegetables such as carrots and celery. Asparagus juice alone is a bit strong to be palatable for most people’s taste. In Ayurvedic medicine, asparagus is a standard recommendation for conditions of the lungs and kidneys.
Healers prepare a yin tonic from the tuberous root that has expectorant, demulcent, nutritive and diuretic properties. The tonic treats tuberculosis, blood tinged sputum, mouth and throat sores, and dryness of the lungs and throat. Asparagus liquid counteracts thirst.
If your dog suffers from kidney problems, add a couple of teaspoons of fresh asparagus seeds to their daily food ration.