Eat this vegetable daily to slash cancer and heart disease risk, doctor says

What we eat plays a massive role in our overall health and wellbeing. Sticking to a certain diet can either raise or lower your risk for some conditions.

There are even specific foods that could pack a whole range of health-protecting benefits. One doctor took to social media platform TikTok to sing the praises of a common root vegetable found in most kitchens.

Osteopathic physician Doctor Poonam Desai revealed she eats onions “regularly” because of their anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.

The layered vegetable is packed with a type of flavonoid found in plants called quercetin, which studies have linked to lower risk of cancer and heart disease.

Speaking to her followers, Dr Desai said: “I am a doctor and I eat onions regularly. But how you eat them and what onion you eat actually matters.

“Onions contain something called quercetin, which gives onions its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.”

Studies have shown that the antioxidants in quercetin can remove harmful chemicals called free radicals from our bodies.

These can damage cell membranes, mess with DNA, and can kill cells. It might also help reduce swelling, kill cancer cells, control blood sugar, and help stop heart disease.

One study, published in Frontiers in Immunology in 2023, found that quercetin could protect against lung, blood and prostate cancer.

“It exerts anti-inflammatory and chemopreventive effects,” the study said.

“In addition, quercetin can improve cancer progression through various mechanisms including down regulation of mutant p53 proteins; G1 phase arrest; tyrosine kinase inhibition; and down regulation of cell survival, proliferative and anti-apoptotic proteins.

“The concept of quercetin as an anti-cancer compound is supported by preclinical studies.”

Another, from Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine, detailed the benefits of quercetin on the heart.

It said: “Quercetin has prominent medicinal value in cardiovascular disease, such as antioxidation, antiplatelet aggregation, reducing myocardial fibrosis, improving ventricular remodeling and cardiac function, protecting vascular endothelium, anti-arrhythmia, anti-heart failure, preventing ischemia reperfusion injury, and regulating blood pressure.”

According to Dr Desai, the health benefits of onions depend on the type you eat and how you eat it.

“But the colour of the onions matters,” she said. “Red onions contain more quercetin than white or yellow, so I opt to eat red onions.

“Second is if you cook the onions, it decreases the levels of quercetin in the onions.

“So I opt to eat my onions raw, so I can maximise the health benefits.

“Now the third is after I peel off the dry flaky layer of the onion, the outer layers contain more quercetin than the inner layers.

“So next time you’re going to choose an onion, choose a red onion, try to eat it raw and try to eat the outer layers.”

Other foods that contain quercetin include citrus fruits, apples, parsley, sage, tea, and red wine.

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