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Emerging Benefit of asparagus for fertility and pregnancy: How To Eat And Concerns

[Updated On: November 14, 2023]

Does asparagus increase fertility? Yes, Asparagus is a good source of Choline, C vitamin, Iron, Selenium, Folate, and glutathione a compound found to improve egg and sperm quality

Asparagus, a spring vegetable prized for its delicate flavor and nutritional value, is also a rich source of phytochemical compounds with known bioactive elements [1], and plant-derived substances with various fertility-boosting vitamins and minerals.

Nutritional value

Asparagus diet

According to USDA 100 grams of cooked asparagus contains:

  • | Calcium 2% RDI
  • | Iron 12% RDI
  • | Magnesium 3.5% RDI
  • | Phosphorus 4% RDI
  • | Potassium 4% RDI
  • | Zinc 5% RDI
  • | Copper 21% RDI
  • | Manganese 8% RDI
  • | Selenium 4% RDI
  • | Vitamin C 6% RDI
  • | Thiamin 12% RDI
  • | Riboflavin 8% RDI
  • | Niacin 6% RDI
  • | Pantothenic acid 6% RDI
  • | Vitamin B-6 7% RDI
  • | Folate 13% RDI
  • | Choline 4% RDI
  • | Vitamin A 25% RDI
  • | Lutein + zeaxanthin 7% RDI
  • | Vitamin E 7.5% RDI
  • | Vitamin K 46% RDI

Phytochemical compounds

These compounds contribute to asparagus’s reputation as a superfood and play a role in its potential health benefits.

Flavonoids

Asparagus is a good source of flavonoids, a diverse group of plant pigments with potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Flavonoids in asparagus include glutathione, rutin, quercetin, and kaempferol. These compounds have been linked to various health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Saponins

Asparagus contains steroidal saponins, a type of phytochemical with a range of biological activities. Saponins from asparagus have been shown to exhibit antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer properties. They may also help regulate blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels.

Fructooligosaccharides (FOS)

Asparagus is a good source of FOS, a type of non-digestible fiber that acts as a prebiotic, promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.

These bacteria contribute to a healthy gut microbiome, which is essential for digestive health, immune function, and overall well-being.

Thiosulfonates

Asparagus contains unique sulfur-containing compounds called thiosulfonates, which are responsible for its characteristic odor when cooked.

Thiosulfonates have been studied for their potential anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties.

Asparagus Health Benefits

Asparagus has been linked to several health benefits:

  • Improves fertility
  • Reduces risk of birth defects during pregnancy
  • Rich in probiotic and fiber that enhances digestive health
  • Boosts immune function with its antioxidant compounds
  • Lowers risk of heart disease
  • Inhibit cancer growth

Benefits of Asparagus for Fertility

Improves Egg and Sperm Quality

Studies have shown that regular intake of asparagus-based diets supports healthy sperm and egg production as a result of certain compounds in asparagus known as glutathione [2], an antioxidant that may help improve egg quality in women who are trying to conceive.

According to a publication from the University of Vermont, Asparagus is a known plant with the highest amount of naturally occurring glutathione [3].

National Institute of Health says glutathione is a bioactive compound in the class of flavonoids— an antioxidant with powerful free radical scavenging activity [4].

According to another source from NIH, Specifically for male fertility, nutrients like C, A, and E vitamins found in asparagus have antioxidant properties that can improve testicular function for quality sperm production, as well as keep the sperm and egg safe against oxidative damage [5, 6, 7, 8].

This means that asparagus-rich diets may help combat oxidative stress that can damage reproductive gametes, and detoxify the body by breaking down harmful elements like free radicals and carcinogens and preventing them from causing harm to our health.

It may also play a role in enhancing mitochondrial function, both of which are important for optimal egg development.

Can increase the chances of conception

Eating asparagus regularly may improve fertility and increase the chances of conception. About 4% RDI of selenium is found in asparagus, and reputable publications from NIH have linked selenium with improved egg quality [9].

This is good for trying to conceive couples that quality egg and sperm can increase their chances.

For example, USDA revealed that One cup of cooked asparagus provides over 60% of the recommended daily value of folate.

Whereas reports from the National Institutes of Health on women who took folic acid supplement says they had better quality oocytes and a higher degree of mature oocytes compared to the placebo group [10].

According to USDA, 100g of asparagus contains 16 mg of choline which is about 4% RDI. A report from the National Library of Medicine revealed that choline-rich diets or supplements improved ovarian function among PCOS women [11].

Asparagus is also a good source of vitamins A, C, and E, as well as minerals such as zinc and selenium which help in creating a favorable platform for conception to occur.

Aid spermatogenesis

Healthy sperm production is necessary for successful implantation.
Asparagus is a vegetable that is high in vitamin C which is beneficial for healthy and quality sperm [12].

Asparagus also contains vitamin K, which promotes healthy sperm production. Also, recent findings suggest vitamin K may aid spermatogenesis and maturation.

May help regulate menstruation

Asparagus contains compounds with powerful anti-inflammatory effects. According to anecdotal evidence, Women who feel depressed, fatigued, or experience menstrual cramps during their period consumed asparagus-based diets to relieve the discomfort.

Study shows that asparagus root extract can stimulate the secretion of hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis hormones [13] and enhances follicular development and ovulation.

Some studies suggest that asparagus’s anti-inflammatory properties could potentially help regulate the menstrual cycle and improve implantation success.

Thiosulfonates and Saponins in asparagus are anti-inflammatory [14, 15, 16] compounds, which may help reduce inflammation women encounter due to their menstrual cycle.

Also, a recent study suggests saponins may help to restore hormonal balance and regulate menstrual cycle in women. However, more research is needed to confirm these findings.

Benefits of Asparagus during Pregnancy

Consuming asparagus may help couples trying to conceive in several ways, especially those who are already pregnant

Asparagus is a nutrient-rich vegetable that may offer several potential benefits for fertility and pregnancy. Here are some of how asparagus may support pregnant women:

Support fetus development

Asparagus is an excellent source of folate, an essential B vitamin that plays a crucial role in preventing neural tube defects in developing fetuses [17].

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that women who are trying to conceive or are pregnant consume 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid daily.

One cup of cooked asparagus provides about 60 mcg of folate, making it a valuable dietary source of this nutrient.

Asparagus also contains calcium, and a study says calcium can prevent preeclampsia during pregnancy [18].

Promotes Healthy Pregnancy:

Vitamin K, abundant in asparagus, is essential for blood clotting and plays a role in preventing excessive bleeding during pregnancy and childbirth.

Choline is also found in asparagus, and a study says choline can improve several pregnancy outcomes and protect against certain neural and metabolic insults [19]

It also contributes to bone health, which is particularly important for pregnant women as their bodies provide calcium for fetal development [20].

How to Eat Asparagus

How to prepare asparagus

Asparagus can be enjoyed in various ways, including:

  • Steamed or boiled: Steaming or boiling asparagus for a few minutes until tender-crisp is a simple and healthy preparation method
  • Roasted: Roasting asparagus with olive oil, garlic, and herbs enhances its flavor and caramelizes its natural sugars.
  • Grilled: Grilling asparagus on medium-high heat for a few minutes per side adds a smoky flavor and slightly charred texture.
  • Stir-fries and salads: Asparagus can be added to stir-fries for a crunchy texture and fresh flavor, or it can be thinly sliced and incorporated into salads with celery.

Recipes

Here are a few asparagus recipes to try:

  • Steamed Asparagus with Lemon and Parmesan: Steam asparagus spears until tender-crisp. Drizzle with lemon juice, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, and enjoy.
  • Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Glaze: Roast asparagus spears with olive oil, garlic, and herbs. Drizzle with a balsamic glaze for a sweet and tangy topping.
  • Grilled Asparagus Salad with Feta and Pine Nuts: Grill asparagus spears until slightly charred. Toss with mixed greens like celery, crumbled feta cheese, toasted pine nuts, and a simple lemon-tahini dressing.
  • Asparagus and Shrimp Stir-fry: Sauté shrimp with olive oil, garlic, and ginger. Add asparagus spears and cook until tender-crisp. Season with soy sauce, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes.

Concerns

Asparagus is generally safe for consumption during pregnancy and while trying to conceive. However, some individuals may experience mild side effects such as gas or bloating after consuming large amounts of asparagus. These effects are typically temporary and harmless.

Summary

Asparagus is a nutrient-rich vegetable with emerging potential benefits for fertility and pregnancy.

Benefits for Fertility

  • Improves egg and sperm quality
  • Increases chances of conception
  • Regulates menstruation
  • Boosts spermatogenesis

Benefits during Pregnancy

  • Supports fetus development
  • Promotes healthy pregnancy

How to Eat

  • Steamed, boiled, roasted, grilled
  • Added to stir-fries and salads

Concerns

  • Generally safe
  • May cause mild gas or bloating

Conclusion

Asparagus is a versatile and nutritious vegetable with emerging potential benefits for fertility and pregnancy. It is a good source of folate, vitamin K, choline, and other nutrients that are essential for reproductive health and fetal development. Asparagus can be enjoyed in various ways, making it a convenient and delicious addition to the diet.

Emerging Benefit of asparagus for fertility and pregnancy: How To Eat And Concerns
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