Does asparagus cause gas and bloating? It can in certain people- and we’re about to tell you why – and how to stop it while still (possibly) getting to enjoy these yummy green spears.
In the post that follows we’re going to tell you the three reasons why asparagus can make you gassy – FODMAPS, Fibre and Raffinose.
We’re going to give some suggestions as to how you can mitigate these to keep enjoying asparagus without gas – and, in case they don’t work, we have a few gas-busting solutions you can try to beat the bloat.
So, let’s get into it…
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Why Does Asparagus Cause Gas?
There are three main reasons why asparagus causes bloating and gas – you could be affected by just one of them, or, a combination. They are…
It Has FODMAPs
One common reason why asparagus causes gas is that it’s a FODMAP-containing food. We talk a lot about FODMAPs in these posts because when it comes to gas and bloating they’re turning out to be big contributors.
FODMAPs are types of sugar found in all sorts of foods – yes, even healthy ones like vegetables. Specifically, asparagus contains FODMAPs from the Fructose and Fructan families – and, even just a serving of five spears contains enough of these to be classed as a high serving of FODMAPs.
There are two reasons why FODMAPs cause gas and bloating – some of them (including fructans) specifically lead to the production of gas (as the microbes in the gut ferment them) and also make the gut more sensitive to gas. Smaller molecules, like fructose, tend to increase water levels in the gut which leads to more bloating.
The combination of both of these in asparagus can therefore make both gas and bloating a common side effect of eating it in those who are sensitive to FODMAPs.
If you also find you suffer diarrhoea after eating asparagus the FODMAPs, specifically, fructose, are likely to be to blame – fructose also speeds up the gut transit time.
But FODMAP sensitivity isn’t the only reason why asparagus might make you fart.
It Also Has Fibre
Asparagus is also a high-fibre food – and, even the most cast-iron gut can create some extra gas if you suddenly increase your fibre intake. The reason is that fibre feeds the bacteria in the gut – and, a side effect of their little dinner party is gas production. The more fibre, the more happy bacteria and the more gas.
And It Has Raffinose
Raffinose is another sugar that the body finds hard to digest. It’s the main reason why beans and lentils cause gas (check out more advice on lentils and bloating here). The amount in asparagus isn’t as high as in these, but it could still play a role in the formation of gas if you eat enough of it, or combine it with other higher raffinose foods at the same meal.
Explaining The Smelly Pee Thing
We can’t write a piece about embarrassing issues and asparagus without mentioning the pee thing. If you know, you know – if you don’t, well, thank your parents!
You see, when we digest asparagus in the body we break it down into compounds containing sulfur, and, if you’ve ever been to somewhere like Rotorua in New Zealand or, some parts of Iceland, you’ll know that this has a pretty distinctive whiff – and we can excrete this in urine.
Research on this has found that some types of asparagus cause more odour than others – and, that genetics mean only some people excrete these sulphur compounds in enough quantities to produce an odour. On top of this, only about 60 percent of the population has the genes needed to smell it.
So, some people might make the odour but not smell it. Others might smell it but not produce it themselves. Others both and some do neither and this is all news to them! Women are also more likely to notice the odour than men.
Does Asparagus Allergy Cause Gas?
You can be allergic to asparagus, but gas is not one of the most common symptoms of this – instead, the most common symptoms of asparagus allergy are usually respiratory symptoms like wheezing or a runny nose or, skin problems like itching or dermatitis from contact with the asparagus.
Digestive symptoms related to consuming asparagus are more likely to be related to FODMAP sensitivity, or a sudden increase in fibre intake.
How To Reduce Gas from Asparagus
Okay, so you could replace asparagus in your diet with other green vegetables, but if you really like it, is there a way you can eat asparagus without experiencing gas?
It’s tricky – but maybe not impossible. And here’s how…
Watch Your Portions
You see most people who are sensitive to FODMAPs can eat them in small quantities. They only start to trigger problems when you reach your own personal threshold.
And, according to the team at Monash University (who are THE authority on FODMAPs), while five spears of asparagus are likely to trigger symptoms in most people sensitive to the FODMAPs within it, you might be able to get away with smaller portions.
One spear of asparagus scores moderately for fructose – but low for fructans. Depending on which FODMAP is your trigger you might, therefore, find that you can tolerate one or two spears without it triggering your symptoms.
Avoid FODMAP Stacking
Shrinking your serving of asparagus is not going to eliminate your symptoms if you combine it with other fructose or fructan-containing foods at the same meal as the combination could still be enough to tip you past your threshold.
Make sure you stick with low-fructan vegetables like carrots, kale, tomatoes and bok choy to bulk out the rest of your meal.
When to Speak to a Dietician
Learning which FODMAPs specifically you are sensitive to, finding your threshold and working out how to combine foods correctly when eating a low FODMAP plan is hard so, if you do start to think you’re experiencing reactions to FODMAP-containing foods it’s definitely a good idea to start working with a dietician or nutritionist that has an interest in gut health who can help you safely isolate which specific FODMAPS might be a problem for you as soon as you can – and definitely before you start taking drastic steps to cut things out of your diet.
Water helps reduce the amount of fructans in a food, so if you normally eat your asparagus, raw, steamed or roasted, try boiling it for a few minutes and see if that helps you eat it without issues.
Eat Different Parts
Different parts of the asparagus spear contain different levels of sugar. According to research from the Iwate Biotechnology Research Center in Japan, the tips of asparagus are higher in raffinose than the base – but the base is higher in fructans. The base also has higher levels of cellulose fibre that the body finds hard to break down – that’s why these bits are rougher and harder to chew.
It might not totally solve your problem, but, changing up the parts of the asparagus you eat could help reduce symptoms, or increase the portion size you can tolerate.
Choose Canned Asparagus
Okay, I’m kind of loathe to suggest this because I know that canned asparagus really doesn’t taste like the fresh stuff, but, because canned foods sit in water, a lot of the fructans dissolve into the liquid within the can – which may make canned (drained) asparagus kinder on your stomach.
So, there are five ways you can still eat asparagus and potentially beat bloating, but, if they don’t work, then you’re going to want to use some gas-releasing tactics – but before we get to those, in case you’re wondering…
Will White Asparagus Also Cause Gas?
The difference between white asparagus and green asparagus is how it is grown. White asparagus is grown underground, so it doesn’t create chlorophyll which turns plants green. This also slightly changes its taste.
Nutritionally the two are very similar – white asparagus contains slightly less fibre, but probably not enough to make a difference to gas and bloating.
How to Release Asparagus Gas
We have a longer post containing 11 gas-busting tips – but, some of the quick and easy solutions to reduce gas or bloating from asparagus include…
Peppermint oil relaxes the muscles in the gut which helps the gas pass through. You can either try drinking a good quality peppermint tea or, pull out the big guns and try peppermint capsules.
Lift Your Hips
Yoga poses like rest pose/Child’s Pose where your hips are lifted cause the gut to relax allowing gas to pass. If you aren’t a big yoga fan, even just kneeling on the floor and raising your hips so your bum is higher than your head can help.
Go For a Walk
Or a cycle, or a jog – gentle exercise jiggles the gut and can help start gas moving. Keep the pace slow and steady though – when you work out fast you can swallow gas which can make your bloating worse.
The Serious Bit
While bloating after eating happens to everyone at some point, if you’re getting bloating regularly, especially if it’s also linked to other symptoms like stomach pains, changes in bowel movements or very loose bowels, loss of appetite or feeling full very quickly and/or weight loss, then you should get it checked out by your doctor just to make sure it’s not caused by another problem that needs further investigation.
What to Read Next
If you found this helpful, you might want to take a look at some of our other posts in this series, like why avocado causes gas – you’ll find all the posts in this series in our Nutrition section, or, click the little share symbol that’s floating off to the side in a white circle and you’ll find a handy search bar that you can use.
Who is The Wellness Nerd?
My name is Helen Foster, and I’m a health journalist and wellness author. Publications I’ve written for include Women’s Health, Reader’s Digest, Body and Soul, Good Health at the Daily Mail, and more. I have also written 16 books on health and nutrition.