Asparagus is the Greek word for stalk or shoot and belongs to the family Asparagaceae. Although a native of Europe, Asparagus is grown well in the sub-tropics. The emerging shoots can be eaten as a vegetable, after harvesting the shoots that are 2-3cm thick and about 15-20cm long. The shoots, called spears, if allowed to grow, would develop into soft, ferny fronds that are a meter or more in height.
The botanical name of the herb, ˜officinalis, by itself, signifies that it is an official therapeutic herb. The Asparagus genus carries medical importance due to the presence of steroidal saponins and sapogenins in various parts of the plant.
The herb is highly valued for its use of stimulating and strengthening Kidney functioning. Fresh spears or spear juice, when eaten, is a strong diuretic, and helps in cleaning and revitalizing the bladder and the Kidneys, and in relieving edema, that arises due to congestion around the heart.
Asparagus is also considered as an excellent aphrodisiac. Even scientific evidence has proven this belief, as it contains a compound that helps in stimulating production of sex hormones.
Asparagus has an alkalizing effect, and hence is a very powerful acid reducer, which is a known therapy for cancer. The high ammonia content literally plummets into alkalinity within a short span of time.
It has been proven that consumption of Asparagus aids in curbing dyspepsia, dysentery, diarrhea, hyperacidity, bronchitis and cough and other infectious diseases.
Boiled Asparagus is said to contain 18 calories per 100gm serving. It provides several vital nutrients, including iron, calcium, phosphorous, carotene, sulphur and potassium. Being low on fat and cholesterol, Asparagus is a much preferred healthy food.