Eating garlic and onion regularly is good for the heart, can help lower cholesterol levels and stop inflammation.
Garlic and onions are both members of the allium family and are rich in powerful sulphur-containing compounds. This gives them their pungent odour and many of their health benefits. Onions are rich in the phytochemical quercetin, which helps keep the heart healthy. The stronger the onion is, the higher the level of quercetin, with small yellow onions containing more than the slighter sweeter Spanish varieties. Onions are also rich in chromium, a trace mineral that helps cells respond to insulin.
Garlic and onions are also good source of the antioxidants beta-carotene and vitamin C, vitamins B, potassium and selenium and they contain small amounts of prostaglandins A1 and E which help lower high blood pressure. They can also help lower cholesterol levels.
Benefits of Garlic
The health benefits of garlic have been known for thousands of years to treat everything from leprosy to colds and flu. Garlic has been worshipped by the ancient Egyptians, chewed by the Greeks and considered essential for keeping vampires away. Antiviral, antibiotic and antifungal, garlic contains hundreds of active compounds of which allicin appears to be the most potent.
Often called the poor man’s antibiotic, garlic has been used to treat worms and parasites, purify the blood and has been shown to help lower fat levels and platelet aggression which in turn can lower blood clotting potential.
Garlic can also reduce the risk of heart attack and strokes, can reduce high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. Those who eat a clove of garlic every day have a lower risk of stomach and bowel cancer. Although the precise reasons are unknown, it is thought that garlic may block the formation of nitrosamines, powerful carcinogens linked to stomach cancer.
Benefits of Onions
Onions are also a powerful cancer-fighting food. Studies published by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute showed eating onions along with other member of the allium family such as garlic, chives and leeks, significantly lowered the risk of prostrate cancer. There have also been similar effects with esophageal cancer. One reason could be that onions contain diallyl sulphide which increases the body’s production of glutathione-S-transferase, an important cancer-fighting enzyme. They also contain other cancer-fighting phytochemicals including cepaene, disulfides and trisulfides.
Antioxidants and Lower Cholesterol
Onions contain powerful antioxidants and are anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and antiviral. Because they contain high levels of quercetin they also have antiallergic properties and are useful for treating allergy related diseases such as asthma and hay fever by blocking some of the inflammatory responses in the airways. Although the body absorbs quercetin from onions quite well, it may be necessary to take quercetin supplements if using as an anti-inflammatory.
Onions also contain a number of sulphides similar to those in garlic which may lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
Health Benefits of Garlic and Onions
Other studies show onions help build strong bones. Male rats given small amounts of dried onion daily showed a 17 percent increase in calcium while female rats with their ovaries removed had stronger bones when fed onions. Removing the ovaries rapidly induces bone loss and osteoporosis. In another study a compound of onions inhibited the activity of the cells that break down bones. The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that onions and garlic are one of the few foods that in combination reduced deaths from coronary heart disease by 20 percent. Other foods were broccoli, teas and apples.