Onions, leeks, garlic and garlic stems, shallots, chives and spring onions (alliums) appear to prevent the development of bowel cancer. A new study involving 830 participants and reported in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Oncology found that the odds of having colorectal (bowel) cancer was 79 percent lower in adults who consumed high amounts of alliums when compared with those who consumed low amounts.
Dr Zhi Li, of the First Hospital of China Medical University, and author of the report said ‘There seems to be a trend: the greater the amount of allium vegetables eaten, the better the protection.’
ALLIUMS MAY ALSO HELP FEND OFF PROSTATE CANCER
Alliums have also proven to be protective against prostate cancer (along with broccoli). We recently attended a lecture from a team of researchers pioneering the consumption of a broccoli and onion soup as means of preventing and protecting against prostate cancer. The results were similarly impressive and about to be published in a prestigious medical journal (you heard it here first).
Alliums are rich in polyphenols, including the flavonoid and antioxidant, quercetin. Red onions have the edge, containing both more fibre and more quercetin than their brown or white counterparts. Alliums also contain sulfur compounds, thought to be anti-inflammatory.
ALLIUMS ARE ALSO LOVED BY OUR MICROBIOTA
Finally, as if that wasn’t enough, alliums are also excellent sources of inulin, a prebiotic much loved by our microbiota. Regular readers will recall an earlier post where we revealed that Jeff Leach, founder of American Gut, eats a lightly sauted leek every day to keep his microbiome healthy and happy.
As bowel and prostate are two of the most prevalent cancers, and as onions are one of the cheapest and most ubiquitous of vegetables there’s no reason not to ‘eat an onion a day to keep the doctor away.’
ROAST RED ONIONS WITH ROSEMARY AND ROQUEFORT
This recipe is simple and delicious. The blue cheese adds calcium, spermidine, protein and probiotics. Use any blue cheese you like – stilton and gorgonzola would work just as well, as would plain old goat’s cheese or a vegan cheese. Replace the sunflower seeds with toasted walnuts if you prefer – both work beautifully. Or leave your cheese-oozing onions unadorned.
This dish takes five minutes to prepare. Then sit back and let the oven do the work. Serve with a green salad for a genuinely ‘fast’ meal.
- 1 large red onion per person, skin on
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary per onion/person
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup per onion
- ½ tbsp. olive oil per onion
- 20 g blue cheese per onion
- A handful of lightly toasted sunflower seeds
Preheat the oven to 190C.
Slice the onions (skin on) into quarters, but without cutting into the base. You want the onion to stay in one piece. Insert a rosemary sprig into each onion. Drizzle over the maple syrup and olive oil.
Roast for just over an hour, or until the onion is soft and cooked through. Top with the cheese, sprinkle over the sunflower seeds, season and serve while still warm.
We don’t like to keep banging on about our book, but it includes plenty more easy-peasy recipes like this and is available for pre-order at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Age-Well-Project-Ways-Better-Longer/dp/0349419701
Red onions , spring onions and leaks are are all really easy to grow too. I do not have much luck with garlic though. I no longer bother to grow white onions as you cannot taste the difference between freshly grown and bought in. Fresh leaks, red onions and spring onions are in a class apart.
Another good source of insulin is the Jerusalem artichoke, nice as soup or roasted with a whole head of garlic which you cut in half. Squeeze the cooked garlic over the roasted artichokes add a knob of butter and a squeeze of lemon. Serve only to people you know well…. they
annabel streets says
You are absolutely right about jerusalem artichokes – and in season now. i love them raw, thinly sliced. But i’ll definitely try your suggestion – sounds delicious…
Susan Saunders says
Love the sound of Jerusalem artichokes and roast garlic – delicious. My parents used to grow garlic and it was fantastic, very different to shop bought.