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Myth: Eating asparagus after a night of drinking will cure your hangover

Left: Sprouting asparagus spears, Right: uncut spears growing into bushes

TRUTH: I think every news media outlet has publicized the supposed benefits of eating asparagus as a hangover remedy in the past couple weeks.  Well, readers, it’s only a couple weeks old but I’m busting this one.  If you haven’t heard or read the news lately, a team of researchers at a Korean University found that extract from the shoots and leaves of the asparagus plant contain amino acids that may help accelerate the metabolism of alcohol.  Except, there are some very important distinctions to note about this study:

  1. They used asparagus extract; concentrated amounts of the asparagus, in larger quantity than you’d eat.
  2. The leaves have significantly more amino acids than the shoots (about 5x as much).  And, since we eat the shoots (not the leaves), to cure a hang over would require a lot of shoots.

Where can you get asparagus leaves, you ask?  You can’t.  They’re discarded at the time of harvest.  If you shop at a year round farmers market, you might be able to ask your farmer to save some of the leaves (it’s an early spring veggie), but it’s unlikely they have any leaves.  Check out the image above, the asparagus spear is the stem of the plant, so the leaves don’t grow before the stem (spear) is cut and sold.

BOTTOM LINE:  Eating a serving of asparagus to cure an anticipated or actual hangover is not physiologically feasible.  Though, if you tried this on New Years Day and it worked, you benefited from the power of the placebo effect.  As you might remember, this skewed information is dangerously similar to the touted benefits of red wine.

To prevent a hangover, you shouldn’t drink.  However, if you want to risk it, remember to drink lots of water and get lots of sleep.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

  1. Daily News: Asparagus may be an effective hangover helper; veggie shown to help metabolize alcohol
  2. NBC News: Eat Asparagus, and more questionable ways to ease your hangover

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