Benefits of Onions

Onions lowers risk of cancer - Dietician

A dietician at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, Dr. Tunde Ajobo, on
Thursday said that consuming onions could lower the risk of several
diseases, particularly colorectal and stomach cancer.

Ajobo, who is also Head of Department of Dietetics, told the News Agency of
Nigeria in Ibadan that onions were a good source of strong antioxidant and
vitamin C that help to combat the formation of free radicals known to cause

He described onions as part of the alliums family of vegetables and herbs
like chives, garlic, scallions and leeks.

"Allium vegetables have been cultivated for centuries for not only their
characteristic, pungent flavours but also for their medicinal properties.

"Onions can vary in size, shape, colour and flavour and the most common
types are red, yellow and white onions,'' he said.

According to Ajobo, onion flavours can vary from sweet and juicy with a mild
flavour to a sharp, spicy and pungent often depending on the season in which
they are grown and consumed.

He said an estimated 105 billion pounds of onions are harvested each year
world-wide with a quarter of the figure grown in Africa.

He also said that the possible health benefits of consuming onions (aside
from lowering risk of several cancers) include improving mood and
maintaining the health of skin and hair.

Ajobo said, "Onions are a nutrient-dense food; meaning that while they are
low in calories they are high in beneficial nutrients like vitamins,
minerals and antioxidants.

"One cup of chopped onion contains approximately 64 calories, 15 grams of
carbohydrates with no fat and no cholesterol.

"It also contains 3 grams of fibre, 7 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein and
10 per cent or more of daily value for vitamin C, vitamin B-6 and manganese.

"Onions also contain a small amount of calcium, iron, folate, magnesium,
phosphorus and potassium and the antioxidants quercetin and sulphur.''

The dietician also recommended consumption of onions because of its many
other health benefits.

"Allium vegetables have been studied extensively in relation to cancer,
especially stomach and colorectal cancers.

"Their beneficial and preventive effects are likely due in part to their
rich organosulfur compounds.

"Although the exact mechanism by which these compounds inhibit cancer is
unknown, possible hypothesis include the inhibition of tumour growth and
mutagenesis and prevention of free radicals,'' he added.

According to Ajobo, several studies have proved that onion consumption help
to lower risk of stomach cancer, colorectal cancer, colon and prostate

He, however, warned that consuming a diet of mostly onions has its health

"It is best to eat a diet with a variety of foods than to concentrate on a
single one; this is key to good health,'' the dietician advised.