Aside from a few possible side effects such as gas, asparagus is not bad for you and can be eaten cooked or raw depending on preference. While eating asparagus raw has no real health issues attached to it, cooking is a healthier (and arguably tastier) option.
Asparagus has long been a popular vegetable and considered something of a delicacy in ancient times. Its distinct flavor is very similar to an artichoke. You can eat asparagus in a number of different ways and cooking methods are equally varied - steam, roast, boil, blanch and even pan fry this versatile vegetable.
However, can you simply eat asparagus raw? Put simply, yes you can. There are very few health issues linked specifically to eating raw asparagus. In fact, the only real issues relate to both cooked and raw asparagus. First up is gas. Asparagus is known to have a high concentration of the carbohydrate raffinose. The digestive system struggles to break this down, causing a build up of gas. While not life threatening, this can be uncomfortable and maybe even a little embarrassing.
The second concern with asparagus is one of the more unique and well-known problems – that it gives your urine a strong odor. Despite there being countless studies as to why this might occur (it does not happen to everyone), nobody has been able to offer any real conclusive proof as to why this happens. Again, it seems that there are very few health implications to this phenomena, so it is not something that should fill you full of concern and worry.
Regardless of the lack of consequences, our research suggests that it is, in fact, better for you to cook asparagus rather than eat it raw. Asparagus contains a significant amount of antioxidants like lycopene that, when cooked, are far easier to absorb. These antioxidants prevent malignant free radical cells from attaching themselves to otherwise healthy cells and reduce the risk of a wide range of illnesses.
Even so, asparagus still has many health benefits when eaten raw. It contains an assortment of anti-inflammatory nutrients like sarsasapogenin, protodioscin, and diosgenin. Many diseases of the body are often linked to inflammation like heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's, and arthritis - the nutrients in asparagus will help to prevent this.
Folate is another key ingredient in asparagus. Along with ensuring pregnant women get enough folic acid in their diet, folate also helps with depression by preventing large amounts of homocysteine entering the body.
Finally, (despite gas) asparagus is high in fiber and helps ensure you maintain a healthy digestive tract and reduces the risk of serious illnesses like colon cancer.
To wrap things up:
Asparagus is fine to eat raw. While many prefer it cooked, you will be doing minimal, if any, damage to your body consuming in raw form. Bear in mind that you might reap greater benefits if you do cook it first.
Possible short-term side effects
- urine develops a strong odor
- reduced risk of certain cancers
- healthy digestive track
- can help prevent depression
- natural anti-inflammatory