University of Guelph (Ontario)
If you’re looking for a flavorful way to help fight and prevent cancer, add red onion to your shopping list. It will be worth the effort … as you will soon see why.
In the first study of its kind, University of Guelph researchers looked at how the Ontario-grown red onion and several others affected the growth and proliferation of cancer cells. Their findings indicate that all onions are not created equal.
The Canadian researchers looked at five different kinds of onion in total from the province of Ontario. They assessed the onions in terms of their effects against cancer cells and their ability to prevent cancer. Of the five species tested, the Ruby Ring red onion was the most effective.
Few people are aware that onions are somewhat of a superfood. Hopefully, studies like these will help to change that. Onions in general have very high concentrations of the flavonoid quercetin. However, the Ruby Ring Ontario red onion has particularly high levels of these compounds as compared with other species.
In the study, colon cancer cells were placed in direct contact with quercetin that was extracted from the five onion varieties studied. It was found that all of the onion types created an unfavorable environment for cancer cells and initiated cancer cell death, or apoptosis. Communication between the cancer cells seems to be disrupted by the compounds in the onions, and this can help to fight and prevent cancer.
The study also showed that the Ruby Ring red onion was high in anthocyanin, a compound that helps to enrich the scavenging properties of quercetin. This in turn supports quercetin in fighting cancer cells and helping to prevent cancer.
Anthocyanin is the molecule that gives vegetables like red onions their rich, deep color. This is in keeping with the general increased healthbenefits that can be gained from other dark or brightly colored vegetables and fruits. The recent onion study results were published in the journal Food Research International.
While all of the onions studied showed the ability to inhibit cancer cells, red onions were particularly effective. Their beneficial compounds blocked the production of both colon cancer cells and breast cancer cells within the controlled conditions of the study.
The next step is to complete human trials to further explore the cancer fighting effects of onions. Researchers are also working on an extraction technique to isolate the quercetin in onions so that it can be administered as a cancer therapy.
In the meantime, finding ways to include more of this cancer-fighting superfood into your diet can allow you to experience many health benefits. Enjoy red onions in salads, on sandwiches and cooked into soups, stews and stir-fry dishes.