On June 7th, 2017 the University of Guelph announced the findings of Prof. Suresh Neethirajan’s work with onions and the plant's ability to create a hostile environment for cancer cells in the body. Onions are an organic sulfur food, containing some powerful flavonoids. Flavonoids in the most simple explanation are the workhorse part of an antioxidant (Dimitrios, B. 2006). Antioxidants and flavonoids are highly researched because of anti-carcinogenic and anti-cancer properties (Borek, C. 1997; Le Marchand, L., Murphy, S. P., Hankin, J. H., Wilkens, L. R., & Kolonel, L. N. 2000; Lautraite, S., Musonda, A. C., Doehmer, J., Edwards, G. O., & Chipman, J. K. 2002). Onions contain two strong flavonoids, Anthocyanin and Quercetin. Years of research from around the globe has shown that Quercetin is a viable anti-cancer agent (Brisdelli, F., Coccia, C., Cinque, B., Cifone, M. G., & Bozzi, A. (2007) which is strengthened by Anthocyanin, which gives fruit color. While all onions contain this combination of flavonoids, red onions have the highest concentration of Anthocyanin.
In this recent study, Prof. Suresh Neethirajan’s research team put colon cancer cells in direct contact with Quercetin and found that cell death occurred in the cancer cells. Quercetin activates a metabolic pathway that results in cell death for cancerous cells. The other important advancement in this study is the development of an extraction method to isolate and extract Anthocyanin and Quercetin cleanly without the presence of unwanted foreign residue (Abdulmonem I. Murayyan, Cynthya M. Manohar, Gordon Hayward, Suresh Neethirajan. 2017).
Organic Sulfur foods
This recent study is one of many that have shown significant health benefits of organic sulfur foods, and biological benefits of Onions and Garlic (Amagase, H. 2006); Corzo-Martínez, Marta, Nieves Corzo, and Mar Villamiel. 2007). Garlic is often coupled with onions while cooking, so it is fitting that this combination provides many health benefits (Griffiths, G., Trueman, L., Crowther, T., Thomas, B., & Smith, B. 2002; Tattelman, E. M. D. 2005). Garlic, like the onion, is an organic sulfur food which contains many beneficial naturally occurring chemical compounds (Block, E. 1985; Lanzotti, V. 2006).
Both garlic and onions contain antimicrobial compounds that can be extracted to preserve food and hinder microbial growths (Delaha, E. C., & Garagusi, V. F. (1985); Pszczola, D. E. 2002). They are natural antiparasitic and antiprotozoal which have shown to be effective in treating some parasite and bacterial infections (Bakri, I. M., & Douglas, C. W. I. 2005). Studies have demonstrated that garlic is effective as a broad spectrum antifungal treatment (Phay, N., Higashiyama, T., Tsuji, M., Matsuura, H., Fukushi, Y., Yokota, A., et al. 1999; Davis, S. R. 2005). Garlic is also an effective antibacterial agent against Pseudomonas, Proteus, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella, Salmonella, Micrococcus, Bacillus subtilis, Mycobacterium, Clostridium, Streptococcus mutans, Streptococcus sobrinus, Porphyromonas gingivalis, and Prevotella intermedia including strands that have become resistant to pharmaceutical antibiotics (Ramos, F. A., Takaishi, Y., Shirotori, M., Kawaguchi, Y.,Tsuchiya, K., Shibata, H., et al. 2006). Depending on the preparation Garlic and onions have some anti-viral properties.
Research on garlic and onions' anti-cancer properties as an anticarcinogenic and antimutagenic agent began in the 1950’s beginning with Weisberger and Pensky (1958) study which showed that tumor growth could be inhibited by thiosulphate extracted from garlic. (Several studies are included in the reference section on the cancer-fighting properties of these foods) . Studies beginning in the 1980’s have demonstrated the ability of both raw garlic and raw onions to break down lipids and lower bad cholesterol (Chang, M. L. W., & Johnson, M. A. 1980; Ali, M., Bordia, T., & Mustafa, T. 1999; Liu, L., & Yeh, Y. Y. (2000). Ongoing studies are looking at cardiac and immune system benefits of garlic and onions (Aqel, M. B., Gharaibah, M. N., & Salva, A. S. 1991; Goldman, I. L., Kopelberg, M., Debaene, J. E. P., & Schwartz, B. S. 1996; Rahman, K., & Lowe, G. M. 2006).
Common side-effects of onions and garlic are bad breath, constipation, and gastral upset if eaten on an empty stomach, and flatulence. Both onions and garlic allergies can produce rashes, blister and breathing problems.
With all the health benefits of garlic and onions, it might be prudent to develop a taste for these two foods.
NOTE: if you are allergic to one or both of these foods DO NOT EAT FOOD YOU ARE ALLERGIC TO.
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