Superfoods – Asparagus and Kiwi Fruit
Asparagus has been used for medical purposes for the last five hundred years, but it’s been cultivated as a vegetable for more than two thousand years. Although it’s helpful in the relief of urinary infections, constipation, arthritis and rheumatism, it’s most powerful effect is as a diuretic. A natural chemical called asparagine is responsible for this effect as you’ll soon realise within half an hour of eating a portion. Not only will your output of urine increase but it will have a distinctive smell which is unmistakable.
Over a thousand years ago Dioscorides, the pioneering Greek doctor, used asparagus to treat both liver and kidney disorders, but it would be 1500 years before it was widely used as a medicine again. Although a great help in the relief of arthritis and rheumatism, avoid asparagus like the plague if you suffer from gout. It contains a group of chemicals called purines, which can trigger episodes and greatly aggravate the pain if you’re already having an attack. The same chemicals can increase the formation of kidney stones in people who already have them, so they too should treat asparagus as a rare treat.
Don’t waste anything when you prepare and cook asparagus as the bottom ends which you cut off can go into home-made stock or soups, and the cooking water can be drunk or added to soups and gravies for its diuretic properties. It’s also ideal for women who suffer with swollen ankles, fingers and breasts with every period.
• Wrap the ends of asparagus in damp paper or cloth to slow asparagus’ very rapid deterioration, store in the refrigerator and consume within 48 hours for best nutritional and healing properties.
• Thanks to a very high content of antioxidants, especially glutathione, Asparagus compares favourably with many of the cruciferous vegetables like cabbage and cauliflower, with the same cancer protective activity, placing it high on the list of antioxidant foods.
• Saponins are also present and have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties and are associated with improved blood pressure, improved blood sugar regulation, and better control of blood fat levels.
• Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients are among the best risk reducers for common chronic health problems including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
• Asparagus is also an excellent source of the special carbohydrate, Inulin, which is not broken down during digestion and acts as a “pre-biotic” in the large bowel that is food for the essential “good” bacteria like Bifidus and Lactobacilli.
• There is even an idea that the amino acid Asparagine could be important in the treatment of some forms of leukaemia.
A Few Tips For Using Asparagus
• Toss cooked pasta with asparagus, olive oil, basil, tarragon and thyme.
• Chopped asparagus turns a simple omelette into a feast.
• Add it cold to your salads.
• Sauté with garlic mushrooms and chicken for a good meal.
These fabulous furry fruits used to be called Chinese Gooseberries, but New Zealand farmers have perfected them as a commercial crop of which they’re now the world’s major producer. They renamed it Kiwi fruit after the country’s national emblem the kiwi bird.
Kiwis contain almost twice as much vitamin C as oranges and more fibre than apples. One kiwi fruit provides twice as much vitamin C as you need for a day and unusually the vitamin C in kiwis is extremely very stable. Inevitably there is a decline immediately after picking but even after six months in store 90% of the vitamin C is still there. Kiwis are a good boost to the immune system, they are helpful for nearly all skin problems and they’re a good aid to the digestion. They really are a wonderful food for children and I’ve found the best way of encouraging youngsters to eat them is to put them in an egg cup, slice off the top and eat with a spoon, just like a boiled egg.
The high potassium content of kiwis is extremely important as most Western diets are very high in sodium, 75% of which comes from processed foods, and very short of potassium. Potassium deficiency and sodium excesses are a major cause of high blood pressure, strokes and heart disease. Just missing out on potassium can affect the heart muscle, cause muscle cramp during exercise and can be a factor in insomnia, exhaustion and depression. An average kiwi fruit will give you around 250mg of potassium, but only about 4mg of sodium.
The fibre content of kiwis and the particular type of mucilage which they contain make them an excellent but extremely gentle laxative. Kiwis also contain a digestive enzyme called actinidin, similar in action to the papain in papaya. It helps in the breakdown of animal protein and is a useful addition to marinades as it tenderises meat before cooking.
Kiwis are perfect for the elderly who seldom get enough vitamin C and frequently suffer chronic constipation.
Some of my books...
- Superfoods, Superjuices, Superhealth
- Eat Well Live Longer
- Superfood Pocketbook
(100 Top Foods for Health)
- The Omega 3 Cookbook
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