Drinking too much on New Years may leave you suffering with a dreaded hangover, but according to a study published in the Journal of Food Science, the amino acids and minerals found in asparagus may help alleviate hangover symptoms and protect human liver cells against alcohol induced damage.
Asparagus is widely consumed worldwide and has long been used as an ancient herbal medicine for treating a number of chronic diseases. It is currently being investigated for its potential anti-cancer effects.
This specific study showed that extracts of asparagus were able to prevent more than 70% of the damage human liver cells experience when chronically exposed to alcohol.
Alcohol use causes oxidative stress on the liver as well as the unpleasant physical effects associated with a hangover. How asparagus affects liver cell metabolism and function is still relatively unclear; however, the study did show that the activity of two key enzymes involved in ridding our bodies of alcohol and its toxic products (alcohol dehydrogenase and aldehyde dehydrogenase) were increased 2-fold after treatment with asparagus extracts.
Interestingly, the higher levels of amino acids and minerals found in asparagus leaves (which are typically discarded as food waste) were more more effective in preventing liver cell damage as compared to asparagus spears, which are commonly consumed. This research may lead to a new more sustainable use for asparagus leaves.
The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend adults consume 3 servings of vegetables per day. A serving is about 1/2 of a cup of cooked asparagus or 5 medium size spears.
Click here to view the abstract of this study.