The Many Benefits of Asparagus Salad

By: Dorine Lam, RDN, MS, MPH


Use organic pearl barley in this barley, date saladAre you thinking about a light yet decadent little dish to savor on a hot summer’s day? Does asparagus salad come to mind? Maybe it should. Interestingly, asparagus—a member of the Liliaceae family and distant cousin of the onion—has been around since ancient times. The Greeks believed asparagus was sacred and the green flowering plant was highly valued as a libido enhancer. Hippocrates, an ancient Greek doctor after whom the Hippocratic Oath taken by medical professionals was named, was known to use asparagus to address diarrhea and other issues related to the urethra.

The Health Benefits of Asparagus Salad

When it comes to the various health benefits of asparagus salad, Hippocrates would definitely have approved. This nutritious green vegetable is an excellent source of quite a few vitamins and minerals, each of which benefit your health in many ways.

As a weight loss aid

Just like many other green vegetables, asparagus is low in sugar and contains no fat. It also has a low glycemic index—a number that represents the amount of carbohydrates in food, which can affect your blood glucose level—and is relatively high in fiber. Fiber tends to make you feel fuller for longer, thereby helping to curb your appetite.

Helps combat a hangover

The amino acids and minerals in asparagus protect your liver against toxins found in alcohol. So, this amazing vegetable could help you recover from a hangover.

Aids urinary tract health

Asparagine is a natural diuretic found in asparagus that helps your body get rid of extra toxins and salts. This diuretic action could also help prevent urinary tract infections.

Helps fight cancer

Interestingly, by cooking asparagus you help activate its cancer-fighting abilities. Just remember, overcooking asparagus can cause all those important nutrients to leach out into the water.

Helps reduce bloating

The high fiber content in asparagus salad not only promotes digestive health, but also encourages the growth of good gut bacteria. As previously mentioned, asparagus is a natural diuretic and will help flush out excess fluid to combat that bulging belly. An added bonus is that it helps to reduce gas.

Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of asparagus according to vitamin and mineral content.

Asparagus Salad Contains Folate Acid

This delicious asparagus salad is a great source of folate (vitamin B9). Research has found a correlation between low levels of folate and vitamin B12 and depression. Folate is also important for cell, tissue, and DNA repair and regeneration, as well as neurotransmitter function, curbing inflammation, assisting your liver in processing fats, activating and regulating your immune system, and flushing toxins and heavy metals out of your body. Asparagus also has high levels of tryptophan, an amino acid known to improve mood.

Asparagus Salad Contains Vitamin E

Vitamin E and C work together to detoxify your body. These antioxidants protect your cells from free radical damage. Vitamin E also helps strengthen your immune system, so you can fight off viruses and bacteria. In addition, it’s an important component used to form red blood cells. Moreover, it helps your body use vitamin K and prevents blood clots.

Asparagus Salad Contains Niacin

Asparagus salad contains niacin, also known as vitamin B3. Niacin plays a role in turning the food we eat into energy and helps maintain the health of your digestive system, nervous system, and skin. It can also help increase your levels of ‘good cholesterol.’

Asparagus Salad Contains Vitamin K

Vitamin K plays an important role in bone formation and blood clotting. It can also help maintain healthy brain function and metabolism and protect you against certain types of cancer. However, if you have heart problems or blood clotting issues or have previously had a stroke, you should not take vitamin K supplements. Doing so could be detrimental to your condition. However, the small amount of vitamin K in this tasty asparagus salad should not be harmful.

Asparagus Salad Contains Vitamin C

Most people take vitamin C when to give their immune system a boost. Vitamin C also plays a crucial role in the detoxification process and can be especially beneficial in the case of heavy metal detoxification.

Asparagus Salad Contains Iron

The iron in asparagus helps your liver to break down toxins. It is also an important component of hemoglobin, found in red blood cells, that carries essential oxygen throughout your body.

Asparagus Salad Contains Thiamin

Thiamin, or vitamin B1, help your hypothalamus function. The hypothalamus is part of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and is responsible for the cascading effects felt throughout the body during times of stress. Thiamine plays a role in controlling your appetite and a thiamine deficiency can lead to tiredness, irritability, nervous system issues, heart palpitations, vision problems, and memory loss.

Asparagus Salad Contains Pyridoxine

Pyridoxine, or vitamin B6, helps your body convert the food you eat into energy. It also helps you maintain healthy skin, hair, and eyes. In addition, this important vitamin plays a role in supporting your liver, brain function, and red blood cell production.

Asparagus Salad Contains Fiber

Fiber aids in the growth of beneficial microbes in your digestive tract, thereby helping your body’s immune system, endocrine response, metabolism, and indirectly supporting liver and kidney health. Dietary fiber may also help increase antioxidant activity in your liver along with detoxifying enzymes it produces.

Other

Asparagus contains a number of additional antioxidants we haven’t mentioned yet, such as beta-carotene, zinc, manganese, and selenium. The chromium in this asparagus salad helps insulin transport glucose and glutathione aids in the detoxification process and may help your body get rid of carcinogens.

What Happens When You Have a Dysfunctional Detoxification Circuit

When you experience stress, your NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) stress response system triggers an automatic response that prepares your body to deal with the situation. Your detoxification circuit plays a crucial role in this process. Under prolonged stress, your detoxification circuit can become congested, which can have devastating effects on your overall health.

Symptoms associated with detoxification circuit dysfunction include

  • Abdominal or stomach bloating
  • Food sensitivities
  • Fatigue
  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Anxiety
  • Tingling sensations in various parts of the body
  • Insomnia
  • Brain fog
  • Psoriasis
  • Heart palpitations
  • Dizziness

Dysfunction of your detoxification circuit may result in excessive reactive metabolites, an immune system on overdrive, and liver congestion. In the end, this could affect your entire body and you may become confined to bed as a result of a weakened body that tires easily. This is a common state of affairs during the later stages of adrenal fatigue. Your body may be unable to flush out the toxins that have built up in your system, leading to worsening symptoms as you are slowly poisoned. Attempts to detoxify the body may worsen the situation.

Very seldom do those in the healthcare field find themselves confronted with someone in this extreme condition. If they do, they often attend to the symptoms without identifying the root cause. Frequently, medications—whether conventional or natural—may actually have the opposite effect to what was intended. For example, instead of helping rid the body of the excessive reactive metabolites, they end up increasing the concentration in your body. In addition to the buildup of toxins in your body, you may even face liver congestion. The end result could be an adrenal crash, and your entire body—including all its interconnected systems—will follow suit.

The Recovery Process

Unfortunately, when it comes to recovery from adrenal fatigue, there is no one-size fits all solution. This is because everybody is different, will react differently, and has a different root cause (or causes) for why this condition developed in the first place. Even with each individual, what may have worked for one day, may not work for you the next day.

A more functional approach to addressing this condition is a systemic approach. The keys to recovery are closely monitoring your condition, a lot patience, and persistence. Relapses can occur periodically, but over time, their frequency and intensity should become less.

Fortunately, our bodies have an amazing capacity for recovery and self-healing. All your body needs are the right tools and enough time. However, the healing process should be supervised by a trained professional well-versed in this particular condition. At the end of the day, prevention is indeed better than any ‘cure.’

Summer Asparagus Salad with Barley and Dates

Ingredients A

  • 1 bunch (18 large) asparagus stalks

Ingredients B

  • 2 cups of barley, cooked according to the instructions on the packet
  • 5 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1 cup of walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp mint leaves, finely chopped or minced
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest

Ingredients C

  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp mint leaves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground pepper

Method

  1. Add water to a large frying pan and bring to the boil. While waiting for the water to boil, trim the asparagus stalks, then add them to the boiling water and stir. After 2 minutes, take the asparagus out.
  2. Once the asparagus have cooled, cut them into bite-sized pieces (approximately one-inch in length).
  3. In a large bowl, combine the chopped asparagus with Ingredients B and lightly toss. Keep the mixture in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
  4. Combine Ingredients C in a small bowl and stir well.
  5. Pour Ingredients C on top of ingredients A and B and serve.

Please note: You can eat this salad as is or alternatively, arrange the asparagus salad on a bed of lettuce leaves for some additional nutrients.

Closing Remarks

One of the mainstays of optimal health is taking care of your detoxification circuit. Stress—whether physical, psychological, or environmental—can have detrimental effects on this important component of your body’s defense system. Indulging in this delicious asparagus salad on occasion may just help you keep your body and detoxification circuit in tip-top shape and functioning optimally.

 
© Copyright 2014 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.


Dr. Lam’s Key Question

Asparagus salad could certainly benefit your detoxification circuit. The different vitamins and minerals may also help other systems in your body, including the HPA axis, digestive system, and immune system. This amazing green vegetable can help support all the circuits of your NEM stress response system.


Use organic pearl barley in this barley, date salad