Asparagus fun facts

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Asparagus fun facts
By Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz
CHICAGO TRIBUNE
Wednesday, Apr. 21 2010

You think you know asparagus, that harbinger of spring? Did you know that asparagus is a member of the lily family, along with onions and garlic? Did you know that asparagus can grow up to 10 inches in a 24-hour period?
 
Here are some other factoids you may find surprising.
 
— Asparagus historically was heralded as an aphrodisiac, probably because of
its shape.
 
— Recent research suggests eating asparagus can help ease hangovers and
protect liver cells against alcohol’s toxins: Asparagus boosts levels of key
enzymes that break down the alcohol.
 
— About 40 percent of people notice strong-smelling urine after eating
asparagus, a sulfurlike odor that results from the digestion of certain
amino acids. Some people are genetically unable to smell the odiferous
urine.
 
— Five ounces of asparagus contain 60 percent of the recommended daily
intake of folic acid, which prevents heart disease and birth defects. Other
possible benefits include preventing cancer and urinary tract infections and
easing arthritic pain.
 
— White asparagus comes from the same plant as green asparagus, but it is
grown underground to block sunlight and prevent photosynthesis, thus
inhibiting production of chlorophyll. Purple asparagus is genetically
modified; once you cook it, it turns green.
 
— The German town of Schwetzingen claims to be the “Asparagus Capital of the
World,” and holds its annual Spargelfest (asparagus festival) in May. The
person who grows the heaviest stalk is named Spargel King or Queen.
 
Sources: California Asparagus Commission, Institute of Food Technologists,
Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board, “The Food Encyclopedia.”

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