The Asparagus Effect

Yesterday I did grocery shopping for the next few days meals, but this morning DB asked if I wanted any other vegies over the weekend.  My mind immediately thought and tasted artichokes.  Yum.  Artichokes.

We live two blocks away from a groetenboer.  In practice, this means “green grocer” or “fruit and veg grocery”.  Boer actually means “farmer” but the Dutch add boer to lots of words to represent someone who sells a particular type of good.  For example a kaasboer is a cheese shop or someone who sells cheese.  But a bollenboer is actually a farmer who farms bulbs.  You just have to know the context to know if a real farmer or a shop keeper is referred to.  I find these kinds of language things really fun.

Anyway, back to the groetenboer…. I walked over looking for artichokes.  They didn’t have any but the closest in color and taste I could come up with was asparagus.  I bought a small bunch of green asparagus, just larger than would fit in my closed fist, for 3.95 euros.  3.95 EUROS!  I couldn’t believe I paid it.  I saw the sign.  I knew the cost and I bought it anyway.  I was seduced by the deep green fresh color.

Tonight I cooked the lovely green spears.  I took one bite and realized why the cost.  They were tender and sweet in that kind of acidic way and really delicious.  Worth every single penny.  Probably the best asparagus I’ve ever eaten.  Actually I hated asparagus when I was a kid and even now I have to be in the right mood to enjoy it.  Maybe these expensive versions will convert me permanently.

Now for the effect.  

What is it about asparagus that, after only 5 minutes from swallowing, you can smell it in your pee?  Haven’t you noticed?  How does that work?  Why don’t any other foods do that?  And you can smell it in your pee for another 12 hours.  I find that so interesting.  Any medical professionals or food experts out there who can tell me?

4 Comments

  1. Actually, a Groetenboer is someone who sells or farms (depending on the context) greetings 🙂

    Wiki says:
    This phenomenon has been observed since the 18th century, and is caused by (the metabolism of) asparagusic acid and its derivatives, which are present in asparagus but not other vegetables.

  2. Okay so someone with a brain looked it up, haha. The only other food I know to have a similar effect is ‘Sugar Puffs’ cereal. I have also learnt too much beetroot makes you pee pink. The things you learn , huh?

  3. I love asparagus also. I buy it in large quantities at Costco and live on it for days. Here is what I found on why urine smells funny after eating asparagus.

    Why does my urine smell funny after consuming asparagus?
    Most authorities feel that the compound that causes the odor in urine after consumption of asparagus is methylmercaptan, which is a sulfur-containing derivative of the amino acid, methionine. This is disputed by a few individuals who claim that the odiferous compound is asparagine-amino-succinic-acid monoamide, which is derived from the amino acid, asparagine. In either case, the product is formed as a derivative during the digestion and subsequent breakdown of beneficial amino acids that occur naturally in asparagus.
    Ref: Merck Index, 862; Food Chemistry, Belitz and Grosch, pg. 271.

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