Do You Know Nutrition: What are the spots on pickled asparagus?

By Phylis Canion
Dec. 4, 2012 at 6:04 a.m.

Phylis Canion

Phylis Canion

I recently purchased a bottle of pickled asparagus and noticed some white specks on the stalks. What is this growth? Is it some type of bacteria? To be on the safe side, I have not eaten any stalks with the white specks on it. Please advise and inform.

Not to worry; those white/gray flecks are perfectly safe to eat. The flecks are actually a protein buildup called rutin, a natural flavonoid in asparagus that sometimes reacts harmlessly with the vinegar. Rutin is created within pickled asparagus when asparagus is heated within an acid such as vinegar in the pickling process. Through this process, rutin is drawn out of the asparagus.

It then becomes insoluble in the vinegar and crystallizes on the asparagus. While most individuals think the worst, it is quite the opposite, as the flecks of rutin can have many great benefits. Rutin is a strong antioxidant, which can be effective against inflammation, cell damage and blood circulation problems. Rutin works well with vitamin C to fend off easy bruising, thin skin and unsightly veins. Enjoy your asparagus, whether pickled, grilled, sauteed, seared or fried (yes, even fried) because it naturally is fat free, contains no cholesterol and is low in sodium and calories. Asparagus is a great source of folic acid, vitamin E and vitamin C.

Is it true that polydimethylsiloxane is used in fast foods, as well as breast implants? Please tell me this is not true.

While polydimethylsiloxane is primarily used as a defoaming agent for commercial boilers, it is also listed under "additives" on food labels. When polydimethylsiloxane is heated to 150 degrees, it breaks down into formaldehyde. Repeated exposure to formaldehyde has been linked to asthma and may increase your chances of contracting pneumonia or bronchitis. And yes, polydimethylsiloxane has been used as a filler in breast implants, although its use has dwindled somewhat because of safety concerns. Unfortunately, it is still used in our foods without safety concerns.

Thought for the week: Never mess up an apology with an excuse.

The next free nutrition class will be at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 10, at the Organic Emporium.

Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant. Email her at This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.



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