Disease Proof

Asparagus Protects Your Liver from Alcohol, But You Still Shouldn't Drink

Alcohol can destroy your health. Last month, studies found alcohol heightens risk of both colon and prostate cancer, but now, new findings in the Journal of Food Science suggest nutrients in asparagus may protect the liver against alcohol toxins associated with hangovers.

Researchers at the Institute of Medical Science and Jeju National University in Korea analyzed the components of young asparagus shoots and leaves to compare their biochemical effects on human and rat liver cells. "The amino acid and mineral contents were found to be much higher in the leaves than the shoots," says lead researcher B.Y. Kim.

Chronic alcohol use causes oxidative stress on the liver as well as unpleasant physical effects associated with a hangover. "Cellular toxicities were significantly alleviated in response to treatment with the extracts of asparagus leaves and shoots," says Kim. "These results provide evidence of how the biological functions of asparagus can help alleviate alcohol hangover and protect liver cells."

Booze is no party, even moderate drinking is suspect. Dr. Fuhrman insists moderate drinking—commonly defined as one drink a maximum of one drink per day for women and two drinks for men—may cause health problems, such extra body fat, cancer and atrial fibrillation.

Consuming more than this is associated with increased fat around the waist and other significant health problems.1 Even a moderate amount of alcohol may also increase the risk of breast cancer in susceptible women.2 The other problem with alcohol, especially more than one drink a day, is it can create mild withdrawal sensations the next day.

These sensations are commonly mistaken for hunger, which leads people to eat more than is necessary. Because of this, moderate drinkers are usually overweight. Furthermore, recent studies have also shown that even moderate alcohol consumption is linked to a significantly increased incidence of atrial fibrillation, a condition that can lead to stroke.3

But asparagus is amazing! Dr. Fuhrman says it’s full of health-promoting vitamins and nutrients, such as calcium and folate. All these plant nutrients help protect against cancer.

Asparagus is one of the most healthful foods on the planet. It leads nearly all fruits and vegetables in the wide array of nutrients it supplies. Ten ounces (one box of frozen spears) have only 68 calories and 9 grams of protein, yet it is like a vitamin pill, giving you a variety of minerals such as selenium, zinc, calcium, copper, and manganese. Plus, it is very rich in folate.

Asparagus has an exceptionally high nutrient-per-calorie ratio and is the perfect weight-loss food. Anti--cancer compounds that have been shown to prevent tumors and cancers in animals are plentiful in asparagus. Asparagus also contains isothiocyanates, indoles, and sulforaphane, powerful compounds that promote cellular rejuvenation with anti-cancer properties.

According to Dr. Fuhrman, asparagus is also an excellent source of Vitamin E, along with whole grains, seeds, nuts, avocados, berries, green leafy vegetables and tomatoes.

1. Dallongeville J, Marecaux N, Ducmetiere P, et al. Influence of alcohol consumption and various beverages on waist girth and waist-to-hip ratio on a sample of French men and women. J Obes. Relat. Metab. Disord. 1998;22(12):1178-1183.

2. Dumitrescu RG, Shields PG. The etiology of alcohol-induced breast cancer. Alcohol. 2005; 35(3):213-225.

3. Frost L, Vestergaard P. Alcohol and risk of atrial fibrillation or flutter: a cohort study. Arch Intern Med. 2004;164(18):1993-1998. Mukamal KJ, Tolstrup JS, Friberg J, et al. Alcohol consumption and risk of atrial fibrillation in men and women: the Copenhagen City Heart Study. Circulation. 2005;112(12):1736-1742.

Image credit: Esteban Cavrico

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Steve - August 20, 2009 7:34 AM

Hi Gerry
I must confess to sometimes overindulging with booze. Last Friday I did so and had an upset stomach for two days, nice.

Good thing I had a half bunch of asparagus last evening, and I am having the rest of it this morning (potato, yam, carrot, garlic and asparagus soup - typical North American breakfast!)

Cheers, Steve

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