OnionDecrease the risk of cancer, relieve congestion, reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure
Onions and other members of the allium family – such as leeks, shallots, and scallions – contain dozens of compounds that provide protection from many conditions, including cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol and asthma.
The first family of heart-healthy compounds in onions is the flavenoids. Flavenoids are substances in plants that have potent antioxidant powers – they help prevent disease by sweeping up harmful, cell-damaging oxygen molecules called free radicals, which naturally accumulate in the body. One particular onion flavenoid called quercetin has been shown to help reduce heart disease in two ways. One, it helps prevent the dangerous low-density lipoprotein from cholesterol from oxidizing, when it sticks to artery walls. Two, it helps prevent platelets in blood from sticking together and forming harmful clots.
A second group of protective compounds in onions are the same ones that make you cry – the sulfur compounds. These compounds raise levels of beneficial high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and help keep plaque from sticking to artery walls. At the same time, they lower levels of dangerous blood fats called triglycerides, which helps make blood thinner, keeping blood pressure in the safety zone.
The primary flavenoid found in onions – quercetin – actually halts the progression of tumors. This means that onions do double duty in suppressing tumors, because the sulfur compounds also fight cancer. Onions prevent cancer not only by putting the breaks on tumor development but also by fighting out harmful bacteria that get stomach cancer started.
The sulfur compounds in onions also inhibit the allergic, inflammatory response like that seen in asthma.
Scallions, shallots , and other allium vegetables not only have same sulfur compounds and flavanoids as onions, they also have a few of their own nutrients that can help fight disease and boost immunity.
Scallions, also called spring or green onions are actually just young, underdeveloped onions. They are very high in nutrients, particularly folate and vitamin C.
Shallots, miniature member of the allium family, have many of their own benefits. Just 1 tablespoon of chopped shallots contains 600 international units of vitamin A – 12 % of Daily Value. This essential nutrient helps keep immunity strong and also guards against vision problems associated with aging, like cataracts and night blindness.
You don’t need a lot of onions to get all of these protective compounds. Studies show that you can reap the benefits by eating just one medium onion, raw or cooked, a day.