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Asparagus, arugula, and chives are the earliest delights found in my garden. As the asparagus spears raise sleepy heads I watch them daily with great interest. My love of asparagus always reminds me of Barbara Kingsolver, a favorite author of mine who has mentioned the many beds of asparagus that she has left in her wake of moving around the country. Fifteen years ago I also cut out a magazine article and posted it on the inside of my kitchen cabinet where I  keep spices and cooking oils. The article listed 100 easy delicious ways to prepare and serve asparagus. At the time my daughter was learning to cook ~ against her jr. high will.  She would groan and point to a number between 1 and 100, and then it was her job to present that version of asparagus for dinner. (A healthy, informative, easy way to get help from the preteen in your family!)

This morning my in-box held an email from a good friend. She has battled breast cancer in the past, and she and her husband recently returned from a visit with their friend who has bravely been trying to beat his own progressive cancer. My close friend also knows Baby Ella and her family personally; needless to say cancer has dominated our thoughts and prayers for too long now. (Tiny Baby Ella has infant liver cancer and you can read more about her very brave struggle in this blog.)

This mornings email qualifies as an urban legend and snopes has something to say about it at:  http://www.snopes.com/medical/disease/asparagus.asp       But this particular urban legend is not what I consider to be menacing or even annoying because it is not harmful to eat asparagus. Nor does snopes blast the email. I have added the email to the end of this post for those of you who are interested.

Consider These Asparagus Facts:

  • According to the National Cancer Institute, asparagus is the highest tested food containing glutathione, one of the body’s most potent cancer fighters.
  • Asparagus is high in rutin, which is great for the heart since rutin  strengthens blood vessels.
  • Asparagus is packed with nutrients. A serving of asparagus is low in calories, no significant fat or cholesterol, very low in sodium and offers a tremendous source of potassium, folic acid, and povides a fair source of Vitamin B6, Thiamin, and that miracle Vitamin C.

If you have seen this urban legend, you have to ask yourself why would you go to the effort to puree such a valuable vegetable? Here is a very healthy delicious recipe to tempt your taste buds:

Sesame Ginger Asparagus Salad

2 lb. fresh asparagus cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces.

5 tsp. soy sauce (I like the low sodium variety)

2 tsp. honey

2 tsp. sesame seed oil (I prefer toasted sesame oil)

2 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds

1/2 tsp. ginger powder or a generous amount of freshly grated ginger

1 tbsp. minced garlic

Cover asparagus in boiling water  and 1 tablespoon sea salt. Cook until tender. Rinse immediately in cold water to stop cooking process and pat dry. Mix other ingredients in small mixing bowl.  Pour over asparagus. Serve hot or chilled.

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Here are the contents of the e-mail:

Several years ago, I had a man seeking asparagus for a friend who had cancer. He gave me a photocopied copy of an article, entitled, `Asparagus for cancer’ printed in Cancer News Journal, December 1979.

I will share it here, just as it was shared with me: ‘I am a biochemist, and have specialized in the relation of diet to health for over 50 years. Several years ago, I learned of the discovery of Richard R. Vensal, D.D.S. that asparagus might cure cancer.

Since then, I have worked with him on his project. We have accumulated a number of favorable case histories.

Here are a few examples:

Case No. 1 : A man with an almost hopeless case of Hodgkin’s disease (cancer of the lymph glands) who was completely incapacitated. Within 1 year of starting the asparagus therapy, his doctors were unable to detect any signs of cancer, and he was back on a schedule of strenuous exercise.

Case No. 2 : a successful businessman 68 years old who suffered from cancer of the bladder for 16 years. After years of medical treatments, including radiation without improvement, he went on asparagus. Within 3 months, examinations revealed that his bladder tumor had disappeared and that his kidneys were normal.

Case No. 3 : a man who had lung cancer. On March 5th 1971, he was put on the operating table where they found lung cancer so widely spread that it was inoperable. The surgeon sewed him up and declared his case hopeless. On April 5th he heard about the asparagus therapy and immediately started taking it. By August, x-ray pictures revealed that all signs of the cancer had disappeared. He is back at his regular business routine.

Case No. 4 : a woman who was troubled for a number of years with skin cancer. She finally developed different skin cancers which were diagnosed by asking specialist as advanced.. Within 3 months after starting on asparagus, her skin specialist said that her skin looked fine and no more skin lesions. This woman reported that the asparagus therapy also cure her kidney disease, which started in 1949. She had over 10 operations for kidney stones, and was receiving government disability payments for an inoperable, terminal, kidney condition. She attributes the cure of this kidney trouble entirely to the asparagus.

I was not surprised at this result, as `The elements of material medica’, edited in 1854 by a Professor at the University of Pennsylvania , stated that asparagus was used as a popular remedy for kidney stones. He even referred to experiments, in 1739, on the power of asparagus in dissolving stones.

We would have other case histories but the medical establishment has interfered with our obtaining some of the records. I am therefore appealing to readers to spread this good news and help us to gather a large number of case histories that will overwhelm the medical skeptics about this unbelievably simple and natural remedy.

For the treatment, asparagus should be cooked before using, and therefore canned asparagus is just as good as fresh.

I have corresponded with the two leading canners of asparagus, Giant and Stokely, and I am satisfied that these brands contain no pesticides or preservatives.

Place the cooked asparagus in a blender and liquefy to make a puree, and store in the refrigerator. Give the patient 4 full tablespoons twice daily, morning and evening.

Patients usually show some improvement in from 2-4 weeks. It can be diluted with water and used as a cold or hot drink. This suggested dosage is based on present experience, but certainly larger amounts can do no harm and may be needed in some cases.

As a biochemist I am convinced of the old saying that `what cures can prevent’. Based on this theory, my wife and I have been using asparagus puree as a beverage with our meals.

We take 2 tablespoons diluted in water to suit our taste with breakfast and with dinner. I take mine hot and my wife prefers hers cold. For years we have made it a practice to have blood surveys taken as part of our regular checkups.

The last blood survey, taken by a medical doctor who specializes in the nutritional approach to health, showed substantial improvements in all categories over the last one, and we can attribute these improvements to nothing but the asparagus drink…

As a biochemist, I have made an extensive study of all aspects of cancer, and all of the proposed cures. As a result, I am convinced that asparagus fits in better with the latest theories about cancer. Asparagus contains a good supply of protein called histones, which are believed to be active in controlling cell growth. For that reason, I believe asparagus can be said to contain a substance that I call cell growth normalizer. That accounts for its action on cancer and acting as a general body tonic.

In any event, regardless of theory, asparagus used as we suggest, is a harmless substance.

The FDA cannot prevent you from using it and it may do you much good.. It has been reported by the US National Cancer Institute, that asparagus is the highest tested food containing glutathione, which is considered one of the body’s most potent anticarcinogens and antioxidants.

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So flags went up when I could not find the name mentioned anywhere of the biochemist who supposedly started this email circulating. The only “real” person named seemed to be of a dentist [DDS] rather than a medical doctor. Cancer News Journal sounds vague too. Anyway, I plan to have asparagus really soon!

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