Sperm Superfood: Asparagus
Asparagus seems to be one of those divisive vegetables that people absolutely love or can’t stand. Votes are in and sperm unanimously love it. Full of sperm-friendly nutrients such as folate, selenium and zinc, asparagus is sure to give your swim team a little boost. Like mom used to say, “It’s good for you.” And… it’s good for your sperm.
Asparagus has been considered a “superfood” for a long time. Ancient Egyptians ate it. Greeks and Romans ate it. In fact, there is an asparagus recipe in the oldest known written cookbook (here’s the wiki link). Cultures around the world eat asparagus both as a medicinal herb and as a delicacy. It contains combination of vitamins and minerals that make it incredibly healthy and give it a distinct flavor. Ancient Indian and middle eastern writings imply that eating asparagus is good for your sex life… is it? We dug into the science to see what we could learn.
What makes asparagus a superfood?
Asparagus is full of nutrient that are good for you like fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and does not contain things that are bad for you like salt, sugar or fat. A serving of asparagus (6 spears) contains a significant amount of copper, thiamine, riboflavin, folate, iron, selenium and vitamin K. These nutrients do a lot to help maintain cardiovascular health. They support key functions of blood – such as transport of oxygen to tissue (iron), clotting (vitamin k) and have been shown to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease by regulating homocysteine (an inflammatory marker) levels in the blood (folate, B6 & B12).
Asparagus is also a superfood for supporting digestive health and regulating blood sugar levels. It contains a relatively high amount of fiber and prebiotics, in the form of inulin, that slow digestion and support healthy intestinal function. Prebiotics provide the food for our healthy gut bacteria. Slow digestion helps to reduce spikes in blood sugar levels. Many of the B vitamins aid in the metabolism of carbohydrates and can help to keep blood sugar levels in balance.
Finally, asparagus contains nutrients that are useful in DNA replication and maintaining cellular health. This both helps boost fertility and can help protect against cancer. Asparagus is rich in antioxidants (vitamin E, vitamin C and selenium) that absorb various free radicals in the blood (such as reactive oxygen species), preventing cellular damage. Asparagus is a significant source of folate, selenium and zinc which support DNA replication. DNA replication is essential for healing wounds, creating healthy sperm and preventing cancer.
Asparagus, Sex & Fertility
What vegetable better symbolizes sex and fertility than tender green phallic shoots bursting forth in early spring? Cultures the world over have linked asparagus with good sex and improved fertility. Medieval doctors prescribed cooking it in wine and drinking the juice to increase semen and boost sex drive in men. In Indian Ayurvedic medicine wild asparagus is prescribed for a number of conditions including infertility. In this tradition, the root is cooked with ghee (clarified butter), lemon juice, honey, long pepper and milk to create a mixture that is thought to increase semen, improve milk production in lactating women and tone the uterus. The 15th century Arabian sex manual “The perfumed garden of sensual delight” describes asparagus as a powerful aphrodisiac.
As mentioned above, asparagus contains a number of important vitamins and minerals. Several of them have been shown to improve sexual and reproductive function including zinc, selenium, vitamin E and vitamin C. A healthy cardiovascular system is important for supporting strong erections and balanced blood sugar helps boost testosterone levels which in turn promote sex drive. So, while the jury may still be out on asparagus as an aphrodisiac, science supports that it can do a lot to improve your sperm, your sex life and your health.
Doesn’t asparagus make your pee smell funny?
Asparagus has a reputation for making pee smell funny. But some people swear they can’t smell anything. Thank goodness we have science to help us answer life’s big controversies. Asparagus contains asparagusic acid which is broken down into several sulfur containing compounds when digested. These compounds are volatile which means they easily get into the air and thus more likely to create a scent.
So, why can’t some people smell it? Are they just lying? Science has an answer for this too. It’s a bit complicated. Turns out different people digest things differently and some produce lower concentrations of sulfurous compounds. But, perhaps more interestingly, some people lack the ability to detect the scent. In 2010, 23 and Me published a study that found a single gene mutation that was at least partially responsible for differences in ability to detect the asparagus smell.
Tips on preparing asparagus
Asparagus age is measured by thickness. Generally, thinner asparagus is younger and more tender. Older, thicker asparagus may need the outer layer to be peeled prior to cooking as it tends to be a bit tough or stringy. The bottom part of the asparagus stalk may contain a bit of sand or dirt and should be rinsed in cold water prior to cooking. Common in Europe,white asparagus stalks are covered with dirt as they grow. This makes them stay white and supposedly more tender. There are also purple varieties are smaller and taste fruitier with about 20% more sugar content than the traditional green spears. The purple color is due to anthocyanin, a phytonutrient and important antioxidant, that has both anti-inflammatory properties and other health benefits.
Asparagus can be incorporated into meals in several different ways. Try it in soup, salad, or as a side and reap the nutritional rewards that it offers.
If this article has you hankering for an Asparagus recipe, why not try our Chicken, Mushroom, Asparagus in a creamy Parmesan sauce?
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van Hasselt, J. G. Coen; Elassaiss-Schaap, Jeroen; Ramamoorthy, Anuradha; Sadler, Brian M.; Kasichayanula, Sreeneeranj; Edwards, Yin; van der Graaf, Piet H.; Zhang, Lei; Wagner, John A. “The proof is in the pee: Population asparagus urinary odor kinetics”. Abstracts of the Annual Meeting of the Population Approach Group in Europe. 25. Retrieved 2016-07-07.
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Mathews JN, Flatt PR, and Abdel-Wahab YH. Asparagus adscendens (Shweta musali) stimulates insulin secretion, insulin action and inhibits starch digestion. The British Journal of Nutrition. Cambridge: Mar 2006. Vol. 95, Iss. 3; p. 576-581. 2006.
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