Drinking milk, eating bread, water before bed; the list of hangover prevention methods is extensive. However, new research suggests that tucking into a few asparagus shoots before a big night out may be all that is required. According to research by the Institute of Medical Science, and Jeju National University in South Korea, amino acids and minerals found in the vegetable may alleviate hangover symptoms and protect liver cells against toxins. As part of the study, which was published in the Journal of Food Science, researchers analysed the components of young asparagus shoots and leaves and compared their biochemical effects on human, and rat, liver cells. Lead researcher B.Y. Kim said: ‘Cellular toxicities were significantly alleviated in response to treatment with extracts of asparagus leaves and shoots. ‘These results provide evidence of how the biological functions of asparagus can help alleviate alcohol hangover and protect liver cells.’ The researchers also looked at the different components of the asparagus plant to find which portions of it would be most beneficial in preventing the dreaded effects of excessive alcohol consumption. They found that the leaves of the asparagus had higher amino acid and mineral content than the shoots, meaning that the leaves would be better able to protect the liver from damage and prevent hangovers. A previous study by researchers at Cheju National University School of Medicine, in Korea, showed that asparagus is high in amino acids and that those amino acids stimulate enzyme functions which accelerate the breakdown of alcohol in the body. In an informal study Deokbae Park, professor of medicine at the university, found that volunteers who drank a liquid containing asparagus extracts reported fewer hangover symptoms. This is not the first time that asparagus has been found to have health giving properties. The vegetable is widely used as herbal medicine due to the fact that it is believed to fight cancer. It also combats fungus, inflammation, and works as a diuretic.
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