Roots of Good Health
Raise beneficial HDL cholesterol
Lower blood pressure
Decrease the risk of cancer
Scene: The Civil War, 1864.
The Union soldiers are ailing with dysentery.
General Ulysses S. Grant wires a directive to the War Department to save his troops, stating that he will not move his army an further without these super vegetables!
Three trainloads are shipped the next day.
The rest, as they say; is history.
It’s a stretch to say that these super vegetables won the war between the states.
And scientists haven’t proven that they can stave off dysentery...yet.
But these and other members of the allium family, such as leeks, shallots, and scallions, contain dozens of compounds that provide protection from other conditions, including cancer, high blood, pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol and asthma.
So grab one or two, a sharp knife, a hanky, and start chopping your way to better health.
Rings & Heart Strings
Don’t be offended the next time your honey suggests you “go Dutch” when the both of you go out to dinner.
He or she may be suggesting you take a cue from a group of heart-healthy men who ate their fill of onion-laden delights as part of a ground-breaking study in the Netherlands.
In this much acclaimed study, researchers found that men who ate a quarter-cup a day, along with an apple and a cup of tea, had one-third the risk of dying from heart attacks compared to those who ate the least amount of these foods.
So, what's so important about these particular super vegetables?
Wrapped beneath their papery skins are dozens of compounds that help lower cholesterol, thin the blood and prevent hardening of the arteries, all of which can go a long way toward preventing heart disease.
The first family of heart-healthy compounds is the flavanoids.
Flavanoids are substances in plants that have potent antioxidant powers, meaning that they help prevent disease by sweeping up harmful, cell damaging oxygen molecules called free radicals, which naturally accumulate in the body.
One particular onion dwelling flavanoid, quercetin, has been shown to help knock out heart disease in two ways.
One, it helps prevent the dangerous low density lipoproyein form of cholesterol from oxidizing, which is the process that makes it stick to artery walls.
Two, it helps prevent platelets in blood from sticking together and forming harmful clots.
A second group of protective compounds are the same ones that make you cry...the sulfur compounds.
Experts say that these compounds raise your levels of beneficial, high density lipo-protein cholesterol, which helps keep plaque from from sticking to artery walls.
At the same time, they lower levels of dangerous blood fats called triglycerides, which helps make blood thinner, keeping your blood pressure in the safety zone.
You don't need a lot to keep your heart primed with protective compounds.
In fact, studies show that you can reap the benefits by eating just one medium, raw or cooked, per day.
When you're looking for cancer protection, don't skimp these root vegetables.
They may be a key player in cancer prevention, especially cancers of the gastrointestinal tract.
The primary flavanoid found in these, quercitin, actually halts the progression of tumors in the colons of animals.
This means that these super veggies do double duty in suppressing tumors because the sulfur compounds also fight cancer.
In a large study in the Netherlands, researchers looked at the diets of nearly 121,000 men and women.
The more odoriferous bulbs these Hollanders included in their diets, the lower the risks of stomach cancer.
Scientists suspect that this super food prevents cancer not only by putting the brakes on tumor development but also by stomping out harmful bacteria that may get the stomach cancer started.
A Good Kind of Breath
Putting a few layers raw, on your turkey burger can give you industrial strength breath, but those very same vegetables also may give people with asthma or other respiratory ailments clearer airways:
There are sulfur compounds in these that inhibit the allergic, inflammatory response like that seen in asthma.
Although mere research needs to he done, asthma attacking abilities, you can see the anti—inflammatory effect for yourself:
The next time you have an insect bite or other type of minor inflammation on your skin, rub a cut one on it.
This should help reduce the inflammation.
You only need to eat a few servings a day to keep your breathing passages free and clear.
Unlike some foods, where it’s just not conceivable that you could eat enough to produce a significant effect, you can with these super root veggies.
If you like them, you can consume them in pretty large quantities.
And there’s good evidence that you should!
A Problem with Pickling
Even though eating them raw or cooked, they may help fight the airway inflammation that accompanies asthma attacks, eating certain pickled varieties may have the opposite effect warn researchers.
In a study in Spain, scientists found that some people with asthma experienced attacks after eating the Spanish pickled variety (but not the Dutch variety), presumably because high levels of sulfites are added as preservatives.
If your doctor has told you that you're sensitive to sulfites the best advice is to get your onions out of the ground.
Or if you do buy the pickled variety, check the label to make sure they’re made without sulfites.
Whether you’re eating for health or good taste, there’s no reason to limit yourself.
Scallions, shallots, and other allium vegetables not only pack the same sulfur compounds and flavonoids as their bigger brothers, they also have a few of their own nutrients that can help fight disease and boost immunity.
Scallions, also called spring or green, are actually just young and under developed.
But they're bigger in nutrients, particularly folate and Vitamin-C than their adult counterparts.
A half cup of chopped raw scallions provides 32 micrograms, or 8 percent of the Daily Value (DV) of folate, a nutrient that's essential for normal tissue growth and that may protect against cancer, heart disease and birth defects.
In that half cup, you'll also get more than 9 milligrams (almost 16% of the DV) of vitamin-C, an immunity boosting antioxidant nutrient that helps vacuum up tissue damaging oxygen molecules in the body.
Shallots, another miniature member of the allium family, have their own benefits.
Just one Tbs. of chopped shallots contains 600 international units (I.U.) of Vitamin-A, 12% of the DV.
This essential nutrient helps keep immunity strong and also guards against vision problems associated with aging, like cataracts and night blindness.
Getting the Most
Add some color.
To get the most nutrients from your daily dose, eat several different kinds.
Red and yellow varieties and shallots have the highest flavanoid content, while the white variety have the least.
Save your breath.
If the fear of having horrific halitosis is keeping you from enjoying the health benefits, here's a refreshing tip.
Eat a sprig of fresh parsley.
This will help neutralize the sulphur compounds before they can turn into offending breath.
A breath freshener made with parsley seed oil will also help.
Keep your eyes peeled.
Even if you like them, you may not love them enough to eat a half cup a day or so.
That's why scientists are trying to develop new strains with high concentrations of flavanoids like quercetin.
Experts aren't sure when these new ones will be on the market, but keep your eyes open for special displays in your supermarket.
And, if you don't know what to have for dinner tonight, may we suggest...
5 Spice Onion Soup
This Asian flavored soup is a great tasting alternative to the traditional soup, which combines these root veggies with shiitake mushrooms for a delicious and unique flavor experience.
Using a healthy saute method of cooking, also makes this version healthier as it uses no heated oils.
Cook Time: 30 minutes
1 med. onion chopped, and 2 cut in half, sliced thin
1 Tbs. + 6 c. chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 inch fresh peeled ginger, sliced
6 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick, about 4 inches long
3 star anise
1/2 tsp. dried fennel seeds
6 whole dried med. shiitake mushrooms
1 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. molasses
6 cloves garlic, sliced
Sea salt and fresh ground white pepper to taste
Slice/chop onions and garlic and let sit for 5 minutes to bring out their health-promoting properties.
To prepare broth, heat 1 Tbs. broth in medium soup pot.
Saute chopped onion over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until translucent.
Add the 6 c. of broth and remaining broth ingredients and stir.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer broth ingredients briskly together for 20 minutes, uncovered.
This will bring out a lot of flavor from the ingredients.
While broth is simmering, cut 2 onions in half and slice thin.
In separate medium sized stainless steel skillet, heat 1 Tbs. of soup broth over medium heat.
Saute the slices over medium low heat in broth, stirring often for about 15 minutes, until translucent.
Add garlic and sauté for another minute.
After cooking for 20 minutes, strain broth while it is still hot and return liquid to pan.
Slice mushrooms (and discard rest of strained ingredients) and return to broth.
Add the sautéed garlic mixture and season with salt and white pepper to taste.
Makes 4 ServingsTweet
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