Do you believe everything you read on the Internet? I hope not…
For the past six years, a report has been circulating around the Internet that asparagus is the miracle cancer cure everyone’s been looking for — supposedly based on a Cancer News Journal article that appeared in 1979.
This Internet report gives testimonies of people with cancer who were taking 2-4 tablespoons of asparagus puree twice daily to cure cancer.
So it’s high time to sort fact from folklore…
Continued below. . .
Why The Chinese Don’t Get Sick Like We Do
Do you know that Chinese men and women often escape dreaded diseases that kill over 1.2 million Americans a year?
4,000 years of traditional medicine and modern science now prove that many diseases Western medicine fails to treat could be cured by Chinese healing secrets.
Millions of Chinese men and women live by and believe in the powerful, yet safe healing remedies of Traditional Chinese Medicine to help them:
- Erase high blood pressure with an ancient stretching secret
- Cure rheumatoid arthritis with a “thunderous” herb — 80% success rate
- Reduce an enlarged prostate with a proven, no-drug therapy—88% success rate
- Shrink cancerous tumors in breasts, lungs and livers with this medicinal plant
See for yourself how this 4,000-year-old miracle could help you relieve some of your worst pain and debilitating diseases without depending on prescription drugs.
Here’s the short version of the story: Despite all the buzz, asparagus can’t be considered a miracle cure for cancer. The original 1979 article is nowhere to be found, as far as the Cancer Defeated research staff can determine. If anyone has a copy, kindly forward it to me and I’ll publish a correction.
The cancer-cure claims don’t have published support in a respected journal, but there IS another side to this story…
A plethora of health benefits
The Egyptians, Greeks and Romans valued asparagus for its medicinal value in addition to enjoying it as a food. The second century physician Galen attributed cleansing and healing properties to asparagus.
Asparagus can neutralize ammonia, protect small blood vessels, act as a diuretic… plus its fiber is a natural laxative.
Modern studies show the ancients were right to place high value on asparagus. By eating only a few calories you benefit from many nutrients. Let’s take a closer look at why it’s one of Nature’s most perfect foods.
The National Cancer Institute’s The Glutathione Report names asparagus as the one food that tested highest in glutathione (GSH) — a phyto-chemical that’s an antioxidant with cancer-fighting properties. Alternative health experts rate glutathione as one of the most valuable antioxidants. Your body makes its own glutathione, but less every year as you age, and it’s not easy to find it in the form of food.
Asparagus is also rich in cancer-blocking vitamins A (as beta-carotene) and C, as well as selenium. All three nutrients have been singled out in studies as fierce cancer fighters, which you probably knew, assuming you’re not brand new to alternative health. There’s more: Asparagus contains vitamin E, zinc and manganese, anti-inflammatory saponins, flavonoids, and inulin.
What’s inulin? It’s a carbohydrate that supports digestion by encouraging the growth of the friendly bacteria Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli in your intestinal tract.
Asparagus is also an excellent source of the anti-inflammatory vitamin K… plus vitamin B1, B2 and B3, bone-building copper, and phosphorus.
It contains another B vitamin, folic acid. You can get 135 micrograms of folic acid — half your Recommended Daily Allowance or RDA — in just six spears of asparagus.
One cup of asparagus contains more than 11% of the RDA of dietary fiber and nearly 10% of the RDA of protein… serving to stabilize digestion, curb overeating, maintain proper blood sugar, and prevent constipation. All with just a 43-calorie hit.
Add in potassium, fiber, thiamin, vitamin B6, and rutin (a compound that strengthens capillary walls) — and you have one powerful health-promoting food.
Notice I said food — not supplement. I’ll explain why that’s important in a moment.
But it’s the glutathione that probably spurred the Internet rumors of asparagus as the world’s most amazing cancer cure.
The truth about glutathione, cancer,
and those Internet stories
At least one published study estimates the amount of glutathione in fresh asparagus averages 28 milligrams per 3½ ounces.1
Your body is under constant oxidative stress from inhaled and ingested toxins, the stress of living, and more. To combat this stress and its collateral damage, you need many types of antioxidants, not just familiar ones like A, C and E.
Enter glutathione. It’s a very special peptide molecule that’s been dubbed the “Master Antioxidant” for its unique role in maintaining vitamins C and E in their active form. In other words, glutathione recharges other antioxidants and keeps them doing their job better and longer.
Many longevity scientists believe your glutathione levels are a top predictor of how long you’ll live. This stands to reason, when you consider the amazing role glutathione (GSH) plays in essential body processes.
You lose 8-12% of your GSH per decade —
Are YOU deficient?
GSH acts as a sentry, protecting your genes from attack. Scientists estimate that each of your cells withstands 10,000 free radical hits every day. GSH disarms these free radicals before they can wreak havoc, and can help clean up already-existing damage.
Studies show that glutathione strengthens your T cells — which help modulate your immune system and attack pathogens, while protecting your tissues and controlling autoimmune responses. An overactive immune system can trigger allergies and autoimmune disease processes.2 Common allergies as well as serious problems like rheumatoid arthritis are autoimmune diseases — diseases in which the immune system attacks healthy tissue or harmless invaders like dust and pollen.
Glutathione guards against cellular toxins and helps eliminate carcinogens. It’s constantly policing around your cells, seeking to stop disease, toxins, viruses, pollutants, radiation, drugs, and oxidative stress.
However, age has a negative impact on your GSH levels. Scientists estimate that after age 20 the average person’s glutathione levels go down 8-12% per decade.
And cellular dysfunction may occur following the loss of as little as 30% of your glutathione.
So when your glutathione is deficient, toxins overload your liver and are stored in fat tissue, most often in your central nervous system, breasts, and prostate.
Many researchers attribute the spike in neurological disease and cancer to glutathione deficiencies. Environmental toxins, poor dietary habits, and pharmaceuticals can cause a rapid depletion of your glutathione levels.
Speaking of glutathione’s role in cancer, Jeremy Appleton, ND, Chairman of Nutrition at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon and senior science editor of Healthnotes offered this…
“If you look in a hospital situation at people who have cancer, AIDS or other very serious disease, almost invariably they are depleted in glutathione. The reasons for this are not completely understood, but we do know that glutathione is extremely important for maintaining intracellular health.”
Should you take a glutathione supplement?
People have tried glutathione for a host of conditions — including cancer, high blood pressure, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cataracts, and male infertility.
The question to ask is, “How effective is it as a supplement?”
And the answer is, “Not very.”
In theory there may be a compelling argument in favor of GSH therapeutic use. But this nutrient is not very bioavailable whether taken as an oral supplement, nasal spray, or even intravenously. And the amount of research on GSH as a supplement is very limited.
As often happens, your best bet is to eat your glutathione in the form of whole foods like asparagus — with its other naturally occurring nutrients and precursors.
For optimal GSH production, you also need adequate vitamin D. Do you know your levels? Most people are woefully deficient, even in mid-summer, when daylight hours are at their peak and your skin can easily make vitamin D when you expose it to sunlight.
Optimal vitamin D levels should be between 60 and 100 ng/ml 3,4. The only way to know what your D levels are is to have them tested. It’s best not to try to guess, especially when vitamin D is connected to so many health issues — including glutathione production.
You can and should consume glutathione/GSH precursors such as the amino acids glycine, glutamic acid, and cysteine. Your body can synthesize its own glutathione if you provide it with these building blocks.
Best food sources for these amino acids include avocados, onions, garlic, turmeric, spinach, and cruciferous veggies, although even these special foods are still low in critical amino acids. Why not combine them with asparagus for a one-two punch?
Other good precursors are high quality, non-denatured animal products like raw whey protein made from the milk of grass-fed cows, other cultured raw grass-fed dairy products, and raw organic eggs — which offer bioavailable amino acids and more cysteine than any other food source. But be sure these are raw, grass fed, and organic.
What scientific studies DO say
about asparagus and cancer
Although we’d have to say the Internet rumors are overblown based on current studies, there are some encouraging preliminary studies about asparagus as an anti-cancer agent.
Here’s what science currently suggests:
- We’ve known for some time that chronic inflammation and oxidative stress raise the risk for many types of cancer. So you could logically conclude that the anti-inflammatory nutrients in asparagus make it an excellent dietary choice for people trying to prevent inflammatory-related diseases like cancer.
- A study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association in 2010 showed that vitamin B6 combined with folate and methionine can reduce lung cancer risk by as much as two-thirds. Asparagus contains B vitamins and folate. You can get methionine from meat, poultry, fish, cottage cheese and yogurt, eggs, garlic and onions, lentils and beans, and sesame seeds.
- Researchers in Nanjing, China in 2009 identified a compound called Asparanin A in asparagus — and also discovered it arrests the growth of liver cancer cells and may even cause the death of those cells.
Healthy conclusions about asparagus
Since asparagus contains so many nutrients, it deserves a regular place in your healthy diet — along with other fruits and veggies. As already noted, it’s best to get most of your nutrients from whole foods. Think of the meaning of the word supplement… and optimize your diet with increased fruits and vegetables today. Then let supplements be supplements.
To top it off, asparagus is on Environmental Working Group’s list of the “Clean 15” — fruits and vegetables that have the best pesticide scores, if you don’t buy organic.
How to buy and prepare
Some asparagus are thick and some are thin. We recommend thick ones for roasting or steaming, thin ones for grilling or sautéing.
To maximize your health value, eat asparagus raw.
Before eating or cooking, snap the woody stem off… it should self-select the right spot for you (much harder to find if you cut it with a knife).
Asparagus is easy to prepare. One of the easiest ways is to snap the bottom ends off, wash, put in a long baking pan, drizzle olive oil and your favorite seasonings on top — garlic or garlic powder, balsamic vinegar, lemon pepper or lemon zest, or Parmesan (not all of these at once!). Play around with it a little to find your personal favorite.
Why not get in on spring’s favorite veggie and find out what it can do for your health?
Lee Euler Publisher