Onions come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors, and are included as an essential recipe ingredient in nearly every cuisine in the world. While more dishes are flavored by onions than any other spice, it may come as a surprise to many people that this ubiquitous vegetable packs an assortment of nutrients.
Some key points:
• A member of the same botanical family as garlic, onions contain a powerful organosulfur compound called allicin that helps to lower cholesterol and maintain flexibility of our arteries.
• Polyphenols are antioxidant compounds found in plant-based foods, and onions have more polyphenol content in them than garlic, leeks, tomatoes, carrots, or red bell peppers.
• Onions are richly endowed with an antioxidant known as quercetin that shows promise as an anti-cancer fighter.
• Purple and red onions contain anthocyanins, an antioxidant also found in berries.
Shallots vs. Green Onions
While shallots may look similar to green onions, they are members of a different onion family (Allium cepa var. aggregatum vs. Allium cepa var. cepa) and there are subtle differences. Green onions are characterized by their white or off-white bulbs, while shallot bulbs can vary in color from golden brown to rose red. Green onions are typically used in salads, salsas, and Asian recipes, while the richer and sweeter taste of shallots make them ideal flavor enhancers for soups, sauces, pickles, and stews.
Page 178 of Bharat B. Aggarwal’s book entitled, “Healing Spices,” describes the superior antioxidant properties of shallots compared with the common onion.
Don’t underestimate the healing power of the little shallot. When researchers at Cornell University measured the nutritional content of 13 varieties of onions sold in the United States, they found that, ounce for ounce, shallots have more antioxidant activity than the strongest yellow onions and contain six times more antioxidant phenols than the mildest Vidalia onions.
Quercetin Shows Promise in Inhibiting Cancer
In 2017, the Truth About Cancer website published a report by Dr. David Jockers who suggested that the quercetin flavanoid that is found in onions and other foods may be useful in inhibiting certain types of cancers, such as:
• Leukemia: Quercetin has been shown to inhibit leukemic T-cells from progressing in humans by stopping the phase of the cell cycle in which the cancer would be able to duplicate itself.
• Lung Cancer: In one study, the combination of both apple and onion intake was associated with the reduction of lung cancer by up to 50 percent in men and women.
• Breast Cancer: The anti-cancer properties of quercetin are believed to be a result of several cancer fighting capabilities. Quercetin may suppress the activity of the mutant P53 gene common in breast cancer, which is also responsible for the progression of tumor growth.
• Colon Carcinoma: High dosage amounts of quercetin have also been shown to limit the cancer cell’s ability to proliferate in the large intestine and cause colon carcinoma.
• Ovarian Cancer: A specific nutrient mixture containing quercetin and other nutrients was found to significantly suppress ovarian tumor incidence and growth and lung metastasis.
Other Health Benefits from Eating Onions
On page 176 of his Healing Spices book, Dr. Aggarwal cited an Italian research study that observed that individuals who ate at least one serving of onions per week were 22 percent less likely to have a heart attack than people who rarely ever ate onions. European Journal of Nutrition researchers concluded from the study that a diet rich in onions may reduce the risk of an acute myocardial infarction (heart attack). In a related study, researchers analyzed the diets of 115 Japanese women who appeared to be less at risk for heart disease because they generally consumed more flavonoids (primarily from onions) that lowered their overall cholesterol levels.
In addition, anthocyanins are the pigments that make up the rich colors found in certain fruits and vegetables like red and purple onions. In herbal medicine, substances rich in anthocyanin have been used for years to treat numerous conditions such as colds, high blood pressure, and urinary tract infections. Recent research suggests that anthocyanins may be beneficial in warding off cancer and heart disease.
Finally, under the sub-headline entitled, “Onions Are Rich in Conventional Nutrients As Well As Unique Phytonutrients,” the World’s Healthiest Foods published a chart that lists phytonutrients in onions that are attracting the attention of health researchers:
Article – Onions: Too Strong for Cancer, pp. 176-78
By: Bharat B. Aggarwal Ph.D with Deborah Yost
Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.
Green Onions vs Shallots
Aug 18, 2016
What’s New and Beneficial About Onions
The Worlds’s Healthiest Foods
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Quercetin: Discover How this Unknown Flavonoid Fights 7 Major Types of Cancer
By: Dr. David Jockers DC, MS, CSCS
The Truth About Cancer
July 24, 2017
The Benefits of Anthocyanins
By Cathy Wong | Very Well Health
Medically reviewed by Richard N. Fogoros, MD
Updated Nov 27, 2018