By: Aiman Abdullah and Atika Khan
Onions are one of the oldest cultivated vegetable in our history. In ancient times, these were preserved for harsh situations when there were no other mean of food as these proved to be a good source of energy and had very useful medicinal characteristics.
Onion has been used as a home remedy for several health problems since ancient times and has been a part of many civilizations due to its benefits. Even today, nutritionists suggest having onion in daily diet. It belongs to lily family and has certain nutrients that can help in treatment of heart diseases, urinary tract infections, blood pressure, anemia, diabetes, hair loss, skin infections, ear disorder and what not. The benefits of onion don’t stop here; the latest studies have revealed that this vegetable is also helpful in the treatment of several kinds of cancer. People who have onion in their diet have very low risk of developing cancer. Onion has anticancer elements inside it.
Researchers from Kumamoto University Japan have found that onion has an element Onionin A (ONA) that has anti-ovarian cancer characteristics. Moreover, the experts from the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) have conducted meta-analysis showing that onion can reduce the risk of gastric cancer.
The study conducted by Abdulmonem Murayyan from the University of Guelph, Canada has revealed that onions have two compounds named Quercetin, a flavonoid (one category of antioxidant compound) and anthocyanin that have ability to fight against cancer cells. “We found onions are excellent at killing cancer cells,” said lead study author Abdulmonem Murayyan in a recent statement.
In the first study, Mr Murayyan and Professor Suresh Neethirajan found that red onions have strongest anti-cancer power. Murayyan said: “Anthocyanin is instrumental in providing color to fruits and vegetables.” As red onions are darkest in color they would have the most cancer fighting power. Onion activates pathways that provoke cancer cell to undergo cell death. It disrupts communication between cancer cells, which in turn inhibits growth.
According to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, compound named Quercetin, present in onion damage DNA present in cancer cell ultimately help fighting against cancer. In addition, they reported that quercetin has anti-inflammatory properties; it can suppress the inflammatory response released by substances, such as histamine. In order to test the effect of quercetin on cancerous cells, the team placed colon cancer cells in direct contact with quercetin extracted from five different Ontario onion varieties, and they came to know that the compound has strong effect on cancerous cells. “Developing a chemical-free extraction method is important because it means we can use onion’s cancer-fighting properties in pill form,” explained study co-author Suresh Neethirajan in a statement.
The team is determined to test these incredible compounds obtained from onion on humans. They are working to practice extraction techniques that would allow them to get quercetin and other such cancer fighting compounds from vegetables without using chemicals.
This is amazing that the vegetable that we use in the garnishing of our favorite food recipes is a cheap source to control and treat fatal diseases without any harm and side effect. Data from Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations shows that production of onion has been increasing gradually globally since 1980. Nutritionists also suggest having average daily doses of 50g of fresh onionor 20g of dried onion as it is a weapon against cancer and other infections.
So, people who love to eat baked onion rings, onion salad, grilled onions and all other food stuff having onion, from now when they know its benefits will enjoy its taste even more. Fajita, anyone?