Asparagus Benefits For Skin and More

Asparagus Benefits For Skin and More

Asparagus benefits for skin health are many when you look at all the beneficial compounds in this nutritious vegetable.  

If our skin is healthy, it is a reflection that our body is often healthy as well.  Here, I will review all about the benefits of asparagus for beauty from the inside out. 

A vibrant, spring vegetable, asparagus has some serious health benefits. With over 100 known potent compounds, asparagus may be just what the doctor ordered for skin health and more!

Asparagus Facts

Asparagus is a spear-like vegetable that has been enjoyed for as long as history has been recorded.  It is one of my favorites to include on my plate!

We humans have been cooking with it for a long time. Asparagus appears in the oldest surviving cookbook!

The word asparagus is actually a Greek term that means sprout or shoot.

Asparagus Varieties

There are over 400 species of Asparagus (Asparagaceae) [R].

However, only one type of asparagus  is readily available in stores today called green asparagus. The other two types are rare treats.

  • Green asparagus  (Asparagus officinalis) is found everywhere in the spring. 
  • Purple asparagus was originally developed in Italy and was commercialized under the variety name “Violetto d’Albenga.” 
    • This purple-colored asparagus is the same species of asparagus as the green asparagus, but is a slightly different variant of this species.  It has a more mild and sweet flavor than its green counterpart.
  • White asparagus is just green asparagus that is deprived of light when it is growing.  It is so hard to find because white asparagus harvest is very labor-intensive.

Why is Asparagus Good for the Skin? 

We all want to keep our skin healthy because our skin reflects youthfulness and health.  This is where asparagus fits in nicely.  Rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, asparagus helps support healthy skin cells and hair growth.  

I like to think of it this way: beauty starts from within.  By supporting healthy tissues with a healthy diet, you support healthier, younger looking skin. 

May reduce UV damage

It’s no secret that the sun can take its toll on our skin.  But did you know that eating the right foods like asparagus may help protect us from these damages?  

Sun rays damage the skin because the ultraviolet (UV) rays cause free radicals. 

According to early research, asparagus extract may protect skin cells from the damages of UV rays from the sun [R]. 

We should still be mindful of the amount of time we spend in the sun, but asparagus is one of many fruits and vegetables that can help protect us from sun damage.

May reduce inflammation

When our bodies have a lot of inflammation from our diet, it makes our skin appearance also look inflamed. 

Asparagus benefits for skin may extend to reducing inflammation.  Compounds from asparagus help to reduce the amount of an inflammatory compound called NFkB in skin cells [R]. 

Early research even shows that asparagus may reduce inflammatory skin conditions like eczema, dermatitis, and rosacea [R]. 

Bottom line: When you eat asparagus with a healthy diet, you will almost certainly enjoy less skin inflammation!

Is very nutritious

Skin cells are made of the food and nutrients we eat, so it’s no surprise that nutrient-rich foods like asparagus support healthy skin. 

Asparagus is very low in calories and yet very nutrient-dense.  These types of foods may aid in weight loss, support skin elasticity, and support a healthy gut and immune system.  

Here is a review of the nutrients in asparagus:

Asparagus nutrients [R]:

 

  • Calories 20
  • Carbohydrate 4 grams
  • Fiber 2 grams, including inulin (8% RDI)
  • Protein 2 grams
  • Pre-Vitamin A 756 IU (18% RDI)
  • Potassium 202 mg (4% RDI)
  • Vitamin K1 41 mcg (57% RDI)
  • Thiamine 0.14 mg (13% RDI)
  • Niacin 1 mg (6% RDI)

 

  • Riboflavin 0.14 mg (13% RDI)
  • Folate:  52 mcg-the natural form of folic acid (34%RDI)
  • Vitamin C 5 mg (8% RDI)
  • Vitamin E 1.1 mg (7%RDI)
  • Magnesium 14 mg (5% RDI)
  • Phosphorus 52 mg (5% RDI)
  • Arginine 0.09 mg
  • Tyrosine 0.05 mg

 

Asparagus Benefits for Skin by Reducing Free Radicals

Known to reduce free radicals in the body, asparagus is also a rich source of many antioxidants.  The healthy plant compounds and antioxidants in asparagus include:

  • Sterols
  • Polyphenols
  • Flavonoids (kaempferol, quercetin, and rutin)
  • Resins
  • Tannins
  • Asparagusic acid
  • Sarsasapogenin
  • Glutathione: a potent antioxidant

These antioxidants work together in the body to support healthy tissues.  For example, glutathione. vitamin A, vitamin C, and flavonoids are necessary for the liver, skin, and brain to detoxify harmful substances.

Other Asparagus Benefits for Health

Asparagus has at least 100 known beneficial compounds.  Of those, one of the most beneficial compounds in asparagus are called saponins.

Saponins may have a lot of health benefits including [R]:

  • Antioxidant activity
  • Immuno-stimulating activity
  • Reducing liver toxicity
  • Antibacterial activity
  • Reduced risk of diabetic retinopathy
  • Anti-cancer activity
  • May reduce diarrhea symptoms
  • May reduce stomach ulcers
  • Phytoanticipins (protect the body from microbes)
  • Phytoprotectants.(enhance disease resistance)

An example of the possible protective effect of saponins includes the cell death of liver cancer cells in culture study [R].

Asparagus Diabetes Benefits

Vegetables like asparagus support healthy blood sugar levels because they are high in nutrition, low in calories, and high in fiber.  Asparagus is also naturally a very low carbohydrate vegetable. 

Eating foods like asparagus help people naturally lose weight because of this. 

We don’t have a lot of clinical studies to confirm that asparagus specifically reduces diabetes, but logically it does. Here is the research we have so far. 

In a small clinical study, asparagus powder reduced all of the following [R]:

  • Blood Glucose
  • Total Cholesterol
  • Blood Pressure (both systolic and diastolic)

By helping to reduce cholesterol, blood glucose, and diabetes, asparagus may reduce chances of heart disease and diabetes too.  

Lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol with less diabetes? Yes please. 

Memory Benefits

Fresh asparagus spear wrapped in paper by The Healthy RD

 People who eat whole foods are less likely to suffer from memory problems as they get older.  What role does asparagus play in memory? While there is only preliminary data, the research we have looks promising. 

Asparagus extract was able to improve memory and brain function in a study of healthy rats [R].

Research is still too early to tell, asparagus may also be able to reduce the risk of dementia by reducing beta amyloid [R]. 

Asparagus May Improve Mood

Foods rich in antioxidants like asparagus are well-known to help support a happy mood.  Asparagus shines in this regard.

A compound in asparagus called sarsasapogenin had antidepressant activity in mice [R].  Another mouse study found that asparagus may reduce anxiety symptoms [R].

While no food alone is likely enough to move the dial on your mood, adding in a lot of whole foods like asparagus may. 

Asparagus May Reduce Cancer

It is no secret that people who eat a lot of vegetables have a lower risk of cancer.  One vegetable that may have a strong impact on cancer risk is asparagus. 

In certain cultures, asparagus is used as part of complementary cancer treatment, such as in traditional Chinese medicine. 

Research remains early on this topic, but is intriguing nonetheless.  For example: 

  • Asparagus compounds also cause cancer cell death in mice [R].
  • Use of asparagus extract was able to increase the effectiveness of pancreatic cancer medication in cell study [R]
  • When extracts of the WHOLE plant are given in animal models, it causes cancer cell death [R].

Eating asparagus as part of a healthy diet may help ward off cancer. 

May Reduce Kidney Stones

Anyone who enjoys asparagus is likely familiar with the “asparagus pee”  smell when eating asparagus.  

With strong smelling pee, does asparagus then affect our urinary tract health?

A couple of studies suggest it does. 

Research shows that asparagus may help a specific type of kidney stones called calcium oxalate stones [R]. 

Asparagus may also naturally reduce bloating by acting as a diuretic [R]. 

Note: asparagus does contain oxalates, but there is no direct proof that asparagus increases risk of uric acid kidney stones [R].  Rather, these kidney stones are more likely linked to digestive disorders and too acidic urine concentrations than they are oxalate in the diet [R].

Asparagus Benefits for Digestive Health

Asparagus has so many positive benefits for our digestive system because of its antioxidants and soluble fiber, which is a prebiotic for gut health.    

High in antioxidants, asparagus may even reduce chance of colon cancer according to early research [R]. 

With lots of healthy compounds, asparagus also may help protect the liver from alcohol toxicity and protect liver cells from oxidative stress, according to cell culture study [R].

Asparagus Aphrodisiac Potential

As with all non-starchy, green vegetables, there is a link between high intake and sexual health.  

Asparagus may indeed improve sexual function by helping increase blood flow.  Read more in my heart-health blog.

Male and female asparagus are different: the females produce little berries later in the season (they are not edible).   The male plants have more prolific stalks.

Interesting fact: Queen Nefertiti proclaimed asparagus to be the food of the Gods

Asparagus has been used as an aphrodisiac throughout history, with its spear-shape exemplifying this legend.

While we have no direct research to prove this out, people who eat a healthy diet with lots of vegetables like asparagus tend to have better sexual health.

Asparagus Taste and Potency

Asparagus is seriously nutritious.

But the “nutrients” in no way explain its out-of-this-world taste.  How did it get this potent taste? Potency in nature in regards to taste usually translates to potency in health.

Asparagusic acid is a sulfur compound that is thought to be responsible for its pungent taste and also its pungent effect on the smell of your urine. 

Don’t smell it?  It’s likely because of your genes. Less than 10% of people are unable to smell the distinct asparagus smell when they urinate [R]. Asparagus benefits for skin are likely related to this sulfur compound too.

The compound asparagusic acid is unique to asparagus in nature.  Pretty amazing.

Eating asparagus: my early experiences

“You need to eat at least one,”  said my parents every time we sat down in the spring to eat asparagus.  

With reluctance, I would muster up the will to chew up that bite of the distinctly agonizing flavor of none other than asparagus.

Now I hear those same words coming out of my mouth with the dictum of “you need to eat at least one spear.”

Mom and Dad got it right. Whether it was intentional or not, they were training our taste buds to have a broad palate for healthy things.

Learning to Love Asparagus

One day, I overcame the loathing of this speared vegetable, almost as if a flip switched.

By the time I was in high school, one of my best friends, Kathleen, decided I should have a band called Heidi Loves Asparagus.  It was the 90’s when everyone came up with some kitschy name for a band that they dreamed of being in.

My taste buds had developed in my teens.  Thank you, Mom and Dad. I never had the fortitude to start that band, but the inspiration of asparagus still holds my attention today.

Asparagus is really like no other when it comes to vegetables. And I mean that in a good way.

How To Buy Asparagus

Unlike most vegetables, where the smaller and thinner are the more tender, thick asparagus stalks have a more tender volume to the proportion of skin. 

Try to find asparagus with compact tips that are not shriveled.

Asparagus Recipe Ideas

You can use asparagus in so many ways.  Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Fermented asparagus
  • Asparagus pickles
  • Grilled asparagus
  • Marinated asparagus
  • Steamed asparagus
  • Asparagus soups

Drizzle a little olive oil over any prepared asparagus for a tasty treat!

Asparagus seasoning ideas include garlic, dill, coriander, red chilis, and even sweeter spices like cloves and cinnamon to give your asparagus a unique twist. 

Summary

With over 100 beneficial compounds, the asparagus benefits for skin and the whole body are hard to beat.

Spring is their peak season, so grab the best spears while you can, ferment them, and reap important gains in your health and vitality.

The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body and is shared for educational purposes only. Consult your doctor or healthcare provider before making changes to your supplement routine.  

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