It isn’t a fancy concoction, nor does it sell in the form of a capsule, promoted by a billion dollar pharmaceutical industry. It isn’t a rare herb or even some kind of strange fruit that you’ve never heard of, let alone seen. It is a common food you likely use when you cook, and that can grow easily in your back yard, or in a pot placed on a sunny patio.
Not only does this food lower cholesterol and reduce depression, it has shown remarkable effects in reducing cancerous tumors. The University of Maryland Medical Center calls a certain flavanol in this food “an important antioxidant to scavenge free radicals, and reduce inflammation in the body.” As you may already know, inflammation is directly linked with a ‘cancer-supporting’ environment in the body.
In a book titled Phenolics in Food and Nutraceuticals, Naczk and Shahidi describe onions – the food I’ve been referring to thus far – as the vegetable highest in flavonoids, specifically a flavanol called quercetin. Onions also contain isorhamnetin, myricetin, and kaempferol conjugates, which are needed in our diets.
Quercetin also happens to possess a singular cancer-fighting feature: it can prevent cancer caused by chemicals. Its unique molecular structure enables it to block receptors on the cell surface that interact with carcinogenic chemical compounds. This makes it an amazing anticancer agent for the colon, where carcinogenic chemicals tend to accumulate (Murakami 2008).
Of course, even further research supports the consumption of this inexpensive vegetable – the unglorified onion. (Check out 10 health benefits of onions here.)
Other Benefits Offered by Onions
Dutch scientists realized additional cancer-preventing powers of quercetin. They found it reduced “cancer gene” activity and increased “tumor-suppressor gene” activity in colon cells after 11 weeks, and in South Carolina quercetin was able to stop the development of aberrant crypts.
Cancer-prone rats fed a diet high in quercetin underwent a four-fold reduction in the number of aberrant crypts compared to a control group. Similar research has yielded additional evidence of quercetin’s capacity to reduce emerging aberrant crypts — an important first step in preventing colon cancer from developing in the first place.
Furthermore, studies from a Cleveland Clinic found that the combination of curcumin (found in turmeric root) and quercetin could diminish cancer cell growth significantly. The researchers supplemented the diets of patients with 480 mg of curcumin and 20 mg of quercetin orally, three times a day, for six months. Every single patient experienced a remarkable decrease in polyp numbers and size, with average reductions of 60% and 51%, respectively.
It turns out that the humble little onion could very well be better than many superfruits. They even contain sulfur compounds which most fruits don’t have. Sulfur is a known cancer fighte. Add to this, the onions high levels of vitamin C, copper, calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin E, all known free radical scavengers, and you have yourself a whole lot of bang for the buck.