The POWER of Onions & Garlic / Spartan HEALTH 028

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Allium vegetables – like onions, garlic, leeks and shallots – have a host of health benefits, including possible reductions in the rates of some cancers. Two of the most commonly used of these veggies – onions and garlic – are also the most pungent; sometimes too pungent.

But despite some drawbacks, they are minor compared to the variety of health benefits that these veggies can bring.

WHAT WE TALK ABOUT

Let’s start with garlic.

This vegetable has been a part of great, tasty dishes for hundreds of years. It’s also been used as a home remedy for colds with some recent studies suggesting that people taking garlic supplements have a reduced rate of catching colds compared to people who didn’t.

And there are some even more serious conditions that garlic can help with. It’s been shown to reduce both blood pressure and total cholesterol. And for people with diabetes, garlic supplements over a few months have reduced their fasting blood glucose levels. All pretty impressive.

Next, let’s move to onions that have their own particular benefits.

Like apples, onions contain a flavonoid that’s a great antioxidant: quercetin. This flavonoid can contribute to reductions in atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease! And although quercetin is available in other foods, it’s absorbed much faster into the bloodstream if it’s consumed through onions! Another way that onions help against cardiovascular-related problems is that they can inhibit or reduce platelet aggregation, which can lead to blood clots.

One thing that people don’t like about onions is what happens when you cut them for cooking – your eyes start to tear up. While you’re cutting through an onion, organosulfur compounds are created. These may be part of the process contributing to tearing up, but they also have anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties that are very beneficial. (And don’t peel too much of the onion – most of the best stuff is in the outer layers.)

Two things to remember about onions that may encourage you to eat them more: cooked onions can be sweet, without the lachrymose edge (this is the sulfur based compound that makes us tear up). Also, if you put your onions in the fridge an hour before you cut them, the onions release less of the gas that irritates the eyes.

Onions and garlic might be unusually dramatic in the way they can take over a room with their odors and gases released through cooking. But with the right approaches, they not only add zest to your meals, but they also add truly healthy ingredients to your body’s daily food intake. Despite the smell, give these valuable veggies a try!

LINKS & RESOURCES:

Julia Calderone, “The Health Benefits of Garlic,” Consumer Reports, April 19, 2019, https://www.consumerreports.org/diet-nutrition/the-health-benefits-of-garlic/, accessed March 2019.

John Murphy, “Stinky foods that offer health benefits,” MDLinx, March 5 2019, https://www.mdlinx.com/internal-medicine/article/3512?utm_source=in-house&utm_medium=message&utm_campaign=stinkyfoods-mar6, accessed March 2019.

Ravi Varshney and Matthew J. Budoff. "Garlic and heart disease," The Journal of nutrition 146.2 (2016): 416S-421S, https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/146/2/416S/4584712, accessed March 2019.

Xin Wu, et al. , "Allium vegetables are associated with reduced risk of colorectal cancer: A hospital‐based matched case‐control study in China," Asia‐Pacific Journal of Clinical Oncology (2019), https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/ajco.13133?referrer_access_token=T1wZjp4SnJ27mEvQVVCUgota6bR2k8jH0KrdpFOxC65yG96s1j467S1GYqbcerbdLy5upo7MH8H6uhbXA8weCU1KS-oKV4V1XboqoqWd7JEuB5LOcU5QbW1ULdCeyrF7Ws3--oLbuMx0TXLQvuHD2Q%3D%3D, accessed March 2019.

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CREDITS: Producer: Marion Abrams, Madmotion, llc. Writer and Host: Nada Milosavljevic MD, JD

© 2019 Spartan

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