Leeks, Garlic and Onions!

The Power of Natural Whole Foods

Prevention

The Power of Natural Whole Foods: Leeks, Garlic and Onions!

Posted on July 31, 2018  - By Jacki

The saying, “eat your fruits and vegetables,” might seem like a cliché–but it goes far beyond that! Many individuals do not realize the power in which, eating a whole-foods diet, has on the body.

Of course, when the individual goes to see the doctor, there is always the basic recommendation to encourage the individual to consume more vegetables and fruit. This seemingly simple and underrated recommendation should not be taken with a grain of salt. These foods are truly impactful in their disease-combatting capacities! In fact, the strong cancer fighting properties that whole foods have, are incredibly scientific. To move you out of that ideology that fruits and vegetables are just a cliché, this article will provide you with some scientific research of just how powerful whole foods are—and then some ways in which to incorporate these foods into your diet! Today, most individuals do not consume the correct amount of vegetables and whole foods. These should be the majority of the plate. This week, the spotlight will be on leeks, garlic and onion—otherwise known as the allium bulb family!

1. Studies Which Show Cancer Combatting Effects

There are many studies that point to the beneficial effects of eating alliums. These studies have shown lower risk for several types of cancers, to name a few: cancer of the colon, esophagus, stomach and even of the breast (2;6;7;8;10;13;15).
To demystify these effects, we will admire a study— which revealed that eating leeks, garlic and onions decreases the cancer risk for gastric cancer. This study was carried out in China, where gastric cancer rates are higher, which makes the results all the more significant. The results showed increasing reduction of risk with higher consumption of these allium group vegetables (15). Further shedding light on this matter, is a study completed in Netherlands which focused on the onion and leek consumption, as well as the supplemental use of garlic relative to the incidence of patients with stomach and breast carcinoma. A significantly strong inverse association was found between consumption of onion and the incidence of stomach cancer—meaning the more onion one consumes, the lower chance they have of having stomach cancer(2). Similarly, in an epidemiological study completed in France—a higher intake of onion showed a correlation with the lower risk of breast cancer(6). So far, these studies have illustrated a decreased cancer risk and potential benefits with their consumption, for: gastric cancers, and stomach and breast cancers. However, the outreach of their consumption impacts more than just these cancer types.
The power of their consumption can decrease cancer risk from 10% to 50%(6). This group of vegetables is one of the most powerful groups in terms of making a dent on the detrimental effects of cancer. However, just how do these effects happen?
One study, done at Penn State, shed light upon just how these vegetables throw a kick at cancer(1). According to this study, these vegetables block the formation of potent carcinogens. In addition, these vegetables contain sulfur compounds, most significantly noticed in the onion, that are anti-inflammatory and inhibit factors that promote cancer growth(3). One beneficial ‘ingredient,’ so to speak of this vegetable group is called, “Quercetin,” an antioxidant phytochemical, which is seemingly at the forefront of the groups cancer combatting power(5).
Besides their anti-inflammatory capacity, the alliums also contain anti-tumor properties and antioxidants. The main antioxidants are allylsulfides and quercetin. These antioxidants prevent the wrath of oxidizing carcinogens, minimizing the detrimental effects of cancer(9; 10; 11; 12; 14). Antioxidants are powerful in these capabilities, which are possible via their free-radical stabilization effect. Free radicals, or unstable molecules that when oxidized, drive cancer, are inhibited by antioxidant interaction. Thereby, preventing, hindering and minimizing cancer development.
To conclude, as evidence supports, the allium group is powerful in combating the spread of cancer. Although, many studies have only proven their effects in relation to certain varieties of cancer and there is still much room for research, the science behind the reasons as to why and how they combat cancer cells, seems incredibly promising. Thanks to quercetin, allylsulfides and the vegetable group as a whole, we now have a natural way to prevent disease degradation! From their anti-inflammatory effects, to their anti-tumor and free-radical oxidation fighting powers, the alliums provide a complete array of benefits to promote health.

2. Ways to Incorporate Onion, Leeks, and Garlic Into Your Diet

Luckily for you, onions and garlic can be added into almost anything! Let’s think: Sautéed vegetables, just chop up some onion and some garlic and toss it right in for more flavor. Another option would be to make a potato leek soup, and for that flavor boost—why not throw in some onion and garlic? Garlic can always be added to a vinaigrette to enjoy with some fresh lettuce, a soup, or vegetables! Onion is easily added to a soup, salad, sandwich, or even a sautée. Leeks are great sautéed, in a soup, or even roasted in the oven! For a decadent and nutritious touch, scallions can be added on top of every bowl, and salad. Pro tip: When sautéeing the allium bulbs, avoid browning them, as this could result in higher oxidation and inflammation. Both of these unwanted results, diminish the immense anti-cancer capacities of this group—so, instead cook on low heat, and add some lemon juice as a prevention method. These allium bulbs are extremely versatile, which makes their disease combatting effects all the more accessible and available!
Indulge in this appetizing potato-onion-leek soup!

Sources:
1. Dion, M.. The Influence of Garlic and Associated Constituents on Nitrosamine Formation and Bioactivation. Master of Science Thesis. 1997. The Pennsylvania State University.
2. Dorant, Elisabeth, et al. “A Prospective Cohort Study on the Relationship between Onion and Leek Consumption, Garlic Supplement Use and the Risk of Colorectal Carcinoma in The Netherlands.”, Carcinogenesis, vol. 17, no. 3, 1996, pp. 477–484., doi:10.1093/carcin/17.3.477.
3. Dorsch, W. “Allium Cepa L (Onion): Part 2 Chemistry, Analysis and Pharmacology.” Phytomedicine, vol. 3, no. 4, 1997, pp. 391–397., doi:10.1016/s0944-7113(97)80014-1.
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6. European Journal of Epidemiology, 1998, Volume 14, Number 8, Page 737 Bruno Challier, Jean-Marc Perarnau, Jean-François Viel
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