by Dr. Leo Galland
Scientists from the U.S., England, France, Italy and other countries are confirming the outstanding health benefits of allium vegetables such as onions, garlic and scallions.
Research has looked at how these vegetables help to facilitate detoxification and act as powerful antioxidants, stimulate immune responses and reduce inflammation.
Learn more Garlic – Know What Herbs Do What
What Makes Onions and Garlic Special?
Scientists believe the components in onions and garlic called allyl sulfides and bioflavonoids are key to the research observations of generally lower incidence of cancer and heart disease in people who consume large amounts of garlic and onions, compared with those who eat less.
Nutritional Support for Cancer Prevention
A study from the National Cancer Institute found that eating 10 grams (approximately two teaspoons) or more of garlic, onions or scallions a day was associated with a statistically significantly lower risk of prostate cancer for the participants in the study.
A study conducted at Case Western Reserve University indicated that garlic may help reduce the occurrence rate of pre-cancerous tumors (polyps) in the large intestine.
Garlic and Onions for Detoxification
Most cancer is caused by damage to DNA induced by environmental toxins. A study conducted at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle found that eating a teaspoon of fresh garlic and a half cup of onions per day increases the levels of a key enzyme for removing toxins in the blood cells of healthy women. The authors of this study believed that men would require a higher dose on average for the same effect, because of their larger body size.
Another study, conducted in Scotland, found that eating sautéed onions increases the resistance of the blood cells to DNA damage.
Garlic and Cholesterol
While a highly publicized clinical trial at Stanford University found that garlic did not lower cholesterol levels in healthy people with moderately elevated cholesterol, previous studies have indicated that garlic is more likely to produce beneficial effects on cholesterol in women than in men, and in patients with diabetes or heart disease than in healthy individuals.
News reports of this negative trial failed to recognize that the cholesterol-lowering effects of garlic are not the same for all people and that any trial containing a large percentage of healthy men will miss an effect that might be found if the people studied were patients with diabetes or heart disease.
In addition, while there is so much focus on the connection between cholesterol and heart disease, the benefits of garlic in preventing heart disease are probably due to factors other than changes in cholesterol.
In particular, clinical experiments have shown that regular consumption of garlic decreased calcium deposits and the size of arterial plaque in coronary arteries, prevented unhealthy blood clotting and improved the circulation of the subjects who were studied.
References and Further Reading:
J Natl Cancer Inst. 2002 Nov 6;94(21):1648-51. "Allium vegetables and risk of prostate cancer: a population-based study." Hsing AW, Chokkalingam AP, Gao YT, Madigan MP, Deng J, Gridley G, Fraumeni JF Jr. Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD 20892-7234, USA.
Eur J Nutr . 2000 Oct;39(5):213-23. "Absorption and DNA protective effects of flavonoid glycosides from an onion meal." Boyle SP, Dobson VL, Duthie SJ, Kyle JA, Collins AR. School of Pharmacy, The Robert Gordon University, Schoolhill, Aberdeen, Scotland.
J Nutr. 2001 Mar;131(3s):1027S-31S. "A historical perspective on garlic and cancer." Milner JA. Nutrition Department, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA.
Environ Mol Mutagen. 2009 Apr;50(3):247-65. "Biological properties of garlic and garlic-derived organosulfur compounds."Iciek M, Kwiecień I, Włodek L. Chair of Medical Biochemistry, Jagiellonian University, Medical College, Kraków, Poland.
Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2009 Jun;49(6):538-51. "Garlic: nature’s protection against physiological threats." Butt MS, Sultan MT, Butt MS, Iqbal J. National Institute of Food Science and Technology, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan.
Environ Health Perspect. 2001 Sep;109(9):893-902. "Allium vegetables and organosulfur compounds: do they help prevent cancer?" Bianchini F, Vainio H. Unit of Chemoprevention, International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France.
Amino Acids. 2011 Jun;41(1):103-12. Epub 2010 Mar 6. "Allyl sulfur compounds and cellular detoxification system: effects and perspectives in cancer therapy." Melino S, Sabelli R, Paci M. Department of Sciences and Chemical Technologies, University of Rome "Tor Vergata", Italy.
J Agric Food Chem. 2007 Dec 12;55(25):10067-80. Epub 2007 Nov 13." Onions: a source of unique dietary flavonoids." Slimestad R, Fossen T, Vågen IM. PlantChem, Saerheim Research Centre, N-4353 Klepp station, Norway.
Phytother Res. 2002 Nov;16(7):603-15. "Onions–a global benefit to health."
Griffiths G, Trueman L, Crowther T, Thomas B, Smith B. Department of Plant Genetics and Biotechnology, Horticulture Research International, Wellesbourne CV35 9EF, UK.
Full Text: “Diet and Inflammation” Leo Galland, MD, Nutr Clin Pract December 7, 2010 vol. 25 no. 6 634-640
Power Healing: Use the New Integrated Medicine to Cure Yourself Leo Galland, 384 pages, Random House, (June 1, 1998)