I don’t know about you but, I have an absolute love affair with onions and garlic and no vegetable dish is complete for me without them. These odiferous goodies are part of the Allium family of vegetables which include leeks, chives, shallots, and scallions. Now everybody knows that onions and garlic bring tremendous flavor to most any savory dish. But, did you know that several studies have shown that increased consumption of these vegetables is associated with decreased risk of several cancers? That’s right. The more onions and garlic you eat, the better. Not to mention their superlative ability to help prevent colds and flu. CLICK HERE to read more about that.
Onions and garlic are rich in cancer-fighting compounds. These are produced when the cell walls of these vegetables are broken down by chopping, crushing, or chewing. Studies have shown that these compounds can prevent the development of cancers because they detoxify carcinogens in the body and halt cancer cell growth. Wow! And it gets even better because the phytochemicals in onions and garlic can also prevent tumors from obtaining a blood supply to fuel their growth. And this is true for all of the Allium family members. Fantastic!
Onions, garlic, and the rest of the Allium family also contain health-protective antioxidant compounds. Yellow and red onions are the richest in these antioxidants and red onions, in particular, are rich in quercetin. Quercetin is a flavonoid and flavonoids help to prevent damaged cells from becoming cancerous and may contribute to cancer prevention because of their anti-inflammatory effects. Why not go ahead and add them to all of your vegetable dishes? It’s a win-win because you get great flavor and anti-cancer benefits. What’s not to love?
To maximize the health benefits from onions and garlic, it’s best to eat them raw and chew them well or if you prefer to eat them cooked, be sure to chop them finely before cooking. Doing this initiates the reaction that forms those protective compounds. Did you know that when you cut onions and your eyes tear up that this is a result of the health-promoting compounds being created?
When cutting onions, here’s how to maximize those powerful compounds and make things easy on your eyes as well:
- Put the onion in the freezer for 5 minutes before cutting.
- When cutting off the end root off the onion, try to keep as much of the onion next to the root as possible because this is the part of the onion that has the highest concentration of these health-protective compounds.
- Remember to cut, chop, or slice the onion finely. Alternately, you can put it in a food processor before adding to soups, salads, or vegetable dishes.
My favorite thing to do is to put very thinly sliced onions on my salads. Yum! Be sure to try some of the other members of the Allium clan like shallots. These are fabulous and have a milder flavor than the onion. To your good health!