What is Asparagus?
Asparagus is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to 100-150 cm tall, with stout larissa stems with much-branched feathery foliage. The 'leaves' are in fact needle-like cladodes (modified stems) in the axils of scale leaves; they are 6–32 mm long and 1 mm broad, and clustered 4–15 together. The flowers are bell-shaped, greenish-white to yellowish, 4.5–6.5 mm long, with six tepals partially fused together at the base; they are produced singly or in clusters of 2-3 in the junctions of the branchlets.
Asparagus is a member of the lily family which also includes leeks, garlic and onions. Asparagus is one of the few vegetables that have a high content of nutrients that may help prevent and remedy some ailments.
Asparagus is low in calories, contains no fat or cholesterol, and is very low in sodium. It is a good source of folic acid, potassium, dietary fiber, and rutin. The amino acid asparagine gets its name from asparagus, the asparagus plant being rich in this compound.
Asparagus rhizomes and root is used ethnomedically to treat urinary tract infections, as well as kidney and bladder stones. Asparagus is also believed to have aphrodisiac properties.
Asparagus has some dietary fiber, vitamin A, and vitamin C. It is an excellent source of the B vitamin folate. A serving of six cooked fresh asparagus spears has 1 g dietary fiber, 490 IU vitamin A, 10 mg vitamin C and 131 mcg folate. Besides, it is also low in fat, sodium and practically no cholesterol.
Astragalus also ameliorates bone marrow pression and gastointestinal toxicity caused by chemotherapy and radiation. Astragalus is presently being looked upon as a possible treatment for people living with AIDS and for its potentials to prolong life.
Scientists have isolated a number of active ingredients contained in astragalus, including bioflavanoids, choline, and a polysaccharide called astragalan B. Animal studies have shown that astragalan B is effective at controlling bacterial infections, stimulating the immune system, and protecting the body against a number of toxins.
Boiling asparagus spears for 60 min caused overall flavonol losses of 43.9%. While, chopping of tissues did not considerably influence the antioxidant capacity, but boiling did provoke notable changes.
Two oligofurostanosides were found from the seeds of Asparagus officinalis L to be able to inhibit the growth of human leukemia HL-60 cells in culture and macromolecular synthesis in a dose-dependent
manner. The inhibitory effect on DNA synthesis was found to be
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