According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, onions and garlic contain substances that can possibly benefit our health in many ways. They can both help combat infections, detoxify the body, help prevent heart diseases, and even fight cancers. Previous studies claimed that consumption of garlic and onions may protect us against certain cancers, particularly those of the gastrointestinal tract.
More researches have been conducted by experts to discover additional benefits we can reap from these members of the allium family of vegetables.
Garlic and Raw Onions In Action
In a study published in the journal Nutrition and cancer, researchers from the University at Buffalo and the University of Puerto Rico have found that consumption of garlic and raw onion can help lower a woman’s risk of breast cancer.
Gauri Desai, the study’s lead author, who is an epidemiology Ph.D. student in UB’s School of Public Health and Health Professions, says that:
“We found that among Puerto Rican women, the combined intake of onion and garlic, as well as sofrito (a condiment that’s a staple of Puerto Rican cuisine), was associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer.”
Sofrito is a sauce or green puree of vegetables and herbs (tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, onions, and garlic) blended together to form a flavorful base on dishes.
The study, which took place between 2008 and 2014, involved more than 600 women in Puerto Rico – 314 women with breast cancer and 346 control subjects between the ages of 30 and 79. Researchers chose Puerto Rico for their population-based study because it has a lower breast cancer rate than the United States mainland. Aside from this, women who live there also eat more onions and garlic as compared to those living in the United States or Europe.
The researchers studied the participants’ dietary habits and concluded that the combined intake of onion and garlic, as well as sofrito, have positive effects on women’s health. Eating a serving of onion and garlic-based sofrito a day has been found to lower the risk of breast cancer by 67%.
Yes, sofrito recipes may vary from region to region, but still, they are loaded with raw onion, garlic, and peppers. Eating them raw helps retain lots of their nutritional value. Garlic contains compounds such as S-allyl cysteine, diallyl sulfide, and diallyl disulfide, while onions contain alk(en)yl cysteine sulphoxides. Aside from this, they are also both rich in flavonols and organosulfur compounds.
Lina Mu, the study’s senior author, who is an associate professor of epidemiology and environmental health at UB, commented that:
“These compounds show anticarcinogenic properties in humans, as well as in experimental animal studies.”
Meanwhile, researchers suggest that women should also focus on healthy diets, not just onions, and garlic, as well as regular exercise as ways to reduce the risk of breast cancer.