Metabolic syndrome is the term approved by the word health organisation to describe a set of conditions including high blood pressure, increased blood sugar level, excess body fat around the waist or low HDL (the good cholesterol) and increased blood triglycerides. The International Diabetes Foundation estimates that approximately 20–25% of the world’s adult population has metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome comprises a cluster of metabolic abnormalities including central obesity and high cholesterol, high SBP or DBP, and increased fasting glucose. Metabolic syndrome is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.
The intake of nutritionally well-balanced health foods is the first clinical intervention to counteract metabolic syndrome. The routine intake of certain vegetables has been observed to reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome. A number of vegetables with potential bioactive components, such as polyphenols, sterols, oligosaccharides, and vitamins, have been investigated with regard to antihypertensive, antihyperlipidemic, and antihyperglycemic effects.
Now a new study has confirmed that asparagus significantly improves metabolic syndrome. The edible shoot of asparagus is about one-half to two-thirds of the full length of the stems. When asparagus stems are cropped, leaf-like ferns called cladophylls and the remaining woody part (the bottom-stem) are removed and discarded as by-products because they are tough and difficult to eat.
Twenty-eight health volunteers participated in a clinical trial and ingested asparagus through their cladophylls or ground up bottom-stem powder (6 g/day) daily for a ten week period. The cladophyll intake resulted in significant reduction in the subjects’ diastolic blood pressure and fasting plasma glucose (FPG), and decreased both the left cardio-ankle vascular index score and the total cholesterol level (T-CHO). The bottom-stem intake as well significantly reduced the research participants systolic and diastolic blood pressure and FPG as well as T-CHO.
These results suggest the possibility that asparagus cladophylls and bottom-stems significantly improve hypertension, hyperglycemia, and dyslipidemia; lowering the risk of metabolic syndrome and corresponding cardiovascular disease.
Mie Nishimura, Tatsuya Ohkawara, Hiroyo Kagami-Katsuyama, Hiroji Sato, and Jun Nishihira. Improvement of Blood Pressure, Glucose Metabolism, and Lipid Profile by the Intake of Powdered Asparagus (蘆筍 Lú Sŭn) Bottom-stems and Cladophylls. J Tradit Complement Med. 2013 Oct-Dec; 3(4): 250–255.