We know that foods with intense flavor and those with intense color are loaded with anti-oxidants and other disease-preventing micronutrients. The allium family includes onions, garlic, leeks, scallions, shallots and chives. Alliums all have intense flavor, and most have intense color as well (think red and green onions). The cell walls of Allium vegetables contain allicin, an organosulfur compound that is released with chewing, chopping or crushing, causing a sulfuric smell that bring tears to your eyes — properties that evolved to prevented animals from eating them.
The most potent cancer-preventing foods are spinach, radicchio, beans, berries, nuts, cruciferous vegetables (such as cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower), and allium vegetables.
Alliums have been used in cooking throughout the world for centuries. They have also been used in folk medicine in Europe and Asia, which doesn’t necessarily mean they work. However, according to Michael Greger, M.D., Joel Fuhrman, M.D., and others, studies have shown allium vegetables have many health benefits:
• They prevent cancer of many kinds by detoxifying carcinogens and inhibiting angiogenesis — preventing growth of new blood vessels necessary for propagation and spread of cancer cells.
• Alliums kill cancer cells in the laboratory.
• A large, multi-country study showed that people who consistently ate lots of alliums over several years lowered colon cancer risk by 56 percent, ovarian cancer by 73 percent, esophageal cancer by 88 percent, prostate cancer by 71 percent and stomach cancer by 50 percent.
• They have anti-inflammatory effects, that help prevent and treat arthritis.
• Their anti-inflammatory effects also lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
• They help prevent diabetes.
• They protect against DNA damage caused by radiation.
• They contain soluble fiber, that feeds health-promoting bacteria in our gut microbiome.
• They contain a natural anti-histamine, which helps prevent and treat allergies.
• They improve immune function.
Dr. Fuhrman uses the acronym G-BOMBS to help us remember what we should eat every day for optimal health. It stands for greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries, and seeds (including nuts). Onions includes other members of the allium family as well.
In conclusions, spice up your food with members of the Allium vegetable family — this will also improve your health.
Retired physician Greg Feinsinger, M.D., is author of new book “Enjoy Optimal Health, 98 Health Tips From a Family Doctor,” available on Amazon and in local bookstores. Profits go towards an endowment to the University of Colorado School of Medicine to add prevention and nutrition to the curriculum. He is available for free consultations about heart attack prevention, diabetes reversal, nutrition, and other health issues. Call 379-5718 for an appointment. For questions about his column, email email@example.com.