May 19, 2009

You'll Never Guess the Secret SuperPower of This Veggie

Whoa. Seriously.

If you thought I was enthusiastic about dandelions, check out this site about asparagus. Apparently it does everything but mow the lawn for you. (Or maybe they just forgot to list that part.) All the properties listed were quite impressive. Some were a bit ... unusual. (When they claimed "It helps fight off high blood pressure" I got the mental image of an asparagus stalk, sword in hand, dueling with the evil High Blood Pressure Monster.)

This website caught my attention not just because of its extravagant claims. Some of the comments were also interesting to read, if a bit sad. I don't believe eating any one vegetable is going to cause a complete cure to terminally ill cancer patients. (Not by the time they get to be referred to as "terminally ill" anyway.)

On the other hand, some of the comments weren't sad. I especially loved the comment below. (Click on the image to enlarge it.)

Really? Asparagus helps with SQL database administration? All righty then. That's not a claim I've heard made about any other vegetable, ever.

Scary thought: there are people out there stranger than I am! And funnier, too.

Seriously, what bothers me about some websites is not what they write, or how it is written, but the lack of citations. I don't give a flying fajita how strange the claim is, so long as the site provides me with references that I can check out and make up my own mind about. For example, this other website's claims about dandelions? They sound a bit extreme, but I liked this site because it included references for the claims that it made. (Gasp!)

I love that the Trying Fitness blog includes her sources so I can see where she's coming from, even when I don't always agree with the sources. That earns an Ethical Blogger stamp of approval in my opinion.

Surely you're not suggesting you and Crabby aren't trustworthy?

I mean, naturally you can always believe everything that Crabby or I write... "Crabby! Quick! Look honest." But with everyone else, it really helps to see the source material referenced.

Trustworthy nutritional data sites

I like the WH foods site. It's not a complete list, but it has nutritional information about the 129 "most healthy" foods out there. I like this site because it has nice, straightforward charts that show the most valuable nutrients in any particular veg.

The NutritionData site also has charts, but honestly they look a little intimidating to me. I like charts that are easily graspable, not charts that are some kind of cryptic message I have to puzzle out.

Actually, my favorite kind of chart looks something like this:

On the other hand, in the "a bit more reliable" category is the US government's site USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory. Dull, but probably useful data on food stuffs. I suppose dull isn't the worst thing to be, when it comes to data. I mean, not all nutritional information needs to be presented in a snappy, sexy way.

Note: It might sound inconsistent, but I trust the government's tables, if not their graphics. In other words, I trust the government's nutritional data about foods, though the food pyramids are heavily influenced by the food industries.

Tangent: Did you know the government had a personalized My Pyramid site? It calculates your food requirements based on height, weight, age and activity level. Based on these criteria, it tells you how much of each food group you should eat. It's not as much fun as a virtual My Pony website, and it's not all that specific, but it's a starting place.

Yes, I know Conspiracy Theorists will say that I'm a fool to believe anything the government says. Sorry, can't stop to debate that now. Got to go find some asparagus to stuff into my computer so the database runs right.

Is there a trusty nutritional data website that you go to? And what's the weirdest claim you've ever read about a vegetable's SuperPowers? (Yes, you can point to my dandelion post. I'll understand.)

Fun link du jour: apparently, I'm not the only flow chartist in town.
Check out the Bacon Flow Chart.


  1. Is it just me, or does "Honest Merry's" sounds like the name of a used car lot to you?

  2. I love asparagus. I will have to check it out. Great site recommendations. Thanks for the info.

  3. I can't believe I've been in the blogosphere for 2 years and only discovered your site now! Expect to see me regularly... I like it here.

  4. I get those funny forwards sometimes about some story about how honey and cinnamon can cure your warts and cancer all in the same bout. I just hit delete because they infuriate me! argh!


  5. You mentioned a "flying fajita". Can we talk more about that? I'm really hungry.

  6. I don't really have a nutrition site that I go to, to read more on a food. I use the Calorie King for eating out and labels for eating in. I use Sparkpeople to figure out things without labels. I guess I trust them.
    I just admitted I have never had rhubarb on another site, so on this one I will admit I have never made good asparagus at home. We steamed it once and it was gross. We never tried again. However, if it is so super, I will make additional attempts.

  7. Love asparagus. It is one of my fav veggies!

  8. never eaten a stalk.
    I got in my head the green stinky pee and havent been able to eat a bite since/

    Fab role model am I for the Toddler :)

  9. I have the same feeling as you, Merry, that while it's really interesting to read all the possible benefits of asparagus, the fact that there are some pretty incredible claims and none of them are backed up with research citations makes me skeptical.

    I'm sure SOME of those things are true, but which ones? Thanks for the handy collection of much more reliable links!

    Oh, and re: "scent" issues? Here's a gross confession--I don't actually mind the smell. And it's like this reminder later on that I had a healthy vegetable!

  10. I love asparagus! I even love that it makes my pee smell funny. And the SQL guy? Freakin' genius. Although I have to say that the Pony's site is mesmerizing;)

  11. Merry? Asparagus doesn't fight with swords; asparagus fights with spears!

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  12. I love the whfoods and nutritional data websites, and I think you have my house bugged!! I just told my husband yesterday I trusted the nutritional values for broccoli and other whole foods because it really didn't benefit anyone to inflate them other than broccoli growers. But the RDIs may be skewed to benefit General Mills...

    It's my web cam, hijacked it?

    Here’s something I am baffled by--according to Wiki, the food labels for the U.S. and Canada are based on data from 1968 instead of the newer values:
    (seeking ethical stamp of approval)
    Does that bother anyone? Should I go back to my own blog? :-)

    But back to the asparagus, as impressive as all those claims sound, most of them are probably true to some degree. And it is especially delicious with bacon.

    (p.s. I don't trust that My Pyramid site -- it seems to have to strong of an emphasis on processed carbs IMO)

  13. I mostly try to stay away from nutrition sites, as a big part of my ED included compulsively looking up the Calorie counts of everything.

    And just one site wasn't enough. I had 3 sites bookmarked, and would take the average Calorie count from the sites.

    And I hate asparagus.

  14. Very funny post, Merry. I got an early morning laugh out if it. Loved your flowchart showing how beneficial cupcakes are. It actually expressed what I have known for a long time. Cupcakes cure cancer.

    I'm going to visit some of those sites.
    I would say the weirdest claims I have heard are about the acai berry juice that is sold by MLM. Reminds me of the pyramid schemes from back in the 80s-90s. And being a cancer patient, people are always trying to get me to spend my last dollar on a cure.
    Loved the post. Funny woman.

  15. For those who don't like boiled asparagus (eeuuww), try tossing with EVOO, a little salt and fresh minced garlic. Stick it under the broiler for like 6 minutes (roll it around once during broiling). Sooo crispy and yummy. :)

  16. Love asparagus -and even accept the stinky pee. But I doubt all the claims made. Don't have a favorite food information site -except that I don't trust the govt. site. Way too much of an emphasis on processed carbs. And even with the "my pyramid" I can't say no cow's milk and get that in my pyramid. (sigh).

  17. I like asparagus but as with every other vegetable, would much prefer the cheese/chocolate fondue option. However, I am told this is not conducive to losing weight.

  18. I like nutrition data, mainly because I can input recipes and figure out just how much that cookie I just baked is going to cost me :)

    I don't trust USDA either. I think mainly because it insists that if you can't consume the "all essential" dairy, you can substitute it with soy milk or rice milk. How does that work? They're completely different substances (one is an animal product made to nurse young and the other is squashed soybeans) other than the fact that they're both white-ish. CONSPIRACY!

  19. oh wait...i just checked and they changed it since I last looked at it (a few years ago). maybe because I was complaining about it to all my friends and They heard me. It really is a conspiracy!!!! :)

  20. The best nutritional claims are sometimes just matters of small tweaks. Like in the asparagus site, you could say, "Contains folic acid, which prevents some birth defects," but instead you say, "Eat asparagus when you're trying to conceive!" Or you could say, "Good source of vitamin C," but instead you say, "Prevents scurvy!"

  21. I love your posts about veggies. Keep 'em coming.

  22. I luv asparagus...wrap with capicolla and grill on the bbq. In stirfry. Mmmm...

    I think you should increase your bacon levels...the graph shows insufficient input of bacon :)

  23. I don't like asparagus but I know it's really healthy, so we're growing it. I dry it and crush into a powder to secretly hide in dough and other stuff.

    I don't remember it being able to help with SQL problems :) but it does help with blood pressure and has great vitamins and minerals.

    Vee at

    p.s. that flying fajita sounds really good. beef or chicken?

  24. Would have never thought asparagus was an aphrodisiac...hmmm interesting!!! :-) Thanks for the great info!

  25. Always entertaining along with fun! Love that bacon chart!!!! Very funny!

    I had posted a lot about cancer last week as it was mom's day & my mom's bday & one article was about asparagus:

    Like you, hard to know what to believe with all the info & "sites" out there. I have always loved the WHFoods site & one of my favs on my blog. I will definitely check out that Nutrition Data site. If I really want to research, I do search around & look for reputable sites. For all around medical stuff, I go to Web MD.

    Again, info & fun at the same time.. can't beat that!

  26. MMMMM, asparagus.

    That is all. (I'm too busy drooling over the thought of asparagus to have a coherent comment.)

  27. Hey I'm on the asparagus train!

    One thing I really like about this site is all the material is original (like who else could come up with this stuff, right), not copied and pasted in, then claimed by the "writer."

  28. I just stumbled across this blog. The article and comments are hysterical! Just saved 'Cranky' as a favourite. Seems like a fun and crazy place to visit!

  29. Thanks Kellie -- and welcome Hanlie! It's true, the comments here are great.
    Thanks Dr. J for pointing out that the writing on that website was indeed authentic. (I hate when people copy and paste and then claim it's now "their" writing.)
    And Mary Anne in K, thanks for the forehead slapping moment. Of course asparagus would use a spear, not a sword. What was I thinking?
    Great comments today!

  30. Actually, I meant on the one and only Cranky Fitness :-)

  31. Asparagus is not my favorite, but I buy it when in season, and roast it with some oil, salt, pepper, garlic and herbs. I'm going to try the broiler, though. I don't get (or can't smell) the stinky pee, but can taste the bitterness from oral sex (OK, TMI, I know).

    There's a guy who walks around with a sign downtown that claims his pills cure AIDS, cancer, and everything else under the sun.

    I never believe any claims, only raw numbers. That's what physics and chemistry does to a person.


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