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Posts Tagged ‘Allium’

3 of Our Favorite “Superfoods” That Really Are Super!

Onions are SuperfoodAlthough I spent 25 years in the restaurant business, the time spent certainly did not make me an expert on nutrition. Regardless, I still get asked a considerable amount of questions on the subject with it’s relation to food, as I am considered to be an “expert” on the subject by many of my peers simply because I was a chef for so long. I was having a conversation recently with a dinner guest and was asked about “Superfoods”.

‘Andrew, What the heck are “Superfoods”?’ Here is some interesting and valuable info I found on the subject. Superfood is a term sometimes used to describe food with high phytonutrient content that some may believe confers health benefits as a result. For example, blueberries are often considered a superfood (or superfruit) because they contain significant amounts of antioxidants, anthocyanins, vitamin C, manganese, and dietary fiber. With that said, let’s take a closer look at the Allium Family of “Superfoods”.

The Allium Family – Considered by many experts to be a “Top 10” family of Superfoods.

Allium is the onion genus, with about 1250 species, making it one of the largest plant genera in the world. They are perennial bulbous plants that produce chemical compounds (mostly cysteine sulfoxide) that give them a characteristic onion or garlic taste and odor, and many are used as food plants. Allium is classified in family Alliaceae although some classifications have included it in the lily family (Liliaceae).

Today we will focus primarily on: Garlic, Onions and Leeks, which also includes Chives, Shallots and Scallions.

Garlic, onions, leeks and chives contain flavonoids that stimulate the production of Glutathione. Glutathione is a tripeptide (A tripeptide is a peptide consisting of three amino acids joined by peptide bonds) and is considered to be the liver’s most potent antioxidant, protecting cells from toxins such as free radicals. Glutathione enhances the elimination of toxins and carcinogens, putting the Allium family of vegetables at the top of the list for foods that can help prevent cancer.

Here are just a few benefits from members of the Allium family:

Garlic

  • Lowers total cholesterol (but raises HDL-“good”-cholesterol)
  • Lessens the risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Reduces the risk of blood clots (cause of the majority of strokes and heart attacks)
  • Destroys infection-causing viruses and bacteria
  • Reduces the risk of certain cancers, in particular, stomach cancers
  • Produces more “natural killer” cells in the blood to fight tumors and infections
  • Helps fight against neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s
  • Enhances detoxification by reducing toxins

For optimum effect, eat garlic raw. Cooking can destroy some of the allicin compound, which is the active constituent.

Onions

  • Inhibit the growth of cancerous cells
  • Increase in HDL cholesterol (especially when eaten raw)
  • Reduce total cholesterol levels
  • Increase blood-clot dissolving activity
  • Help prevent colds
  • Stimulate the immune system
  • Reduce the risks of diabetes
  • Have antibacterial and antifungal properties
  • Reduce the risk of certain cancers
  • Help relieve stomach upset and other gastrointestinal disorders

Onions contain two powerful antioxidants, sulphur and quercetin. Both help neutralize the free radicals in the body, and protect the membranes of the body’s cells from damage.

Leeks

Leeks have all of the healthy properties of the Allium family as described above. However leeks also contain these nutrients:

  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin C
  • Folate
  • Manganese
  • Iron
  • Fiber

Fresh Leeks are cheap SuperfoodThis particular combination of nutrients makes leeks particularly helpful in stabilizing blood sugar, since they not only slow the absorption of sugars from the intestinal tract, but help ensure that they are properly metabolized in the body. So, get out there and eat your garlic, onions and chives. Just remember to keep a breath mint handy! Besides, who doesn’t like garlic and onions? I cannot even imagine a world without them!

-By: Andrew Beam

Andrew Beam spent 25 years in the restaurant business and was an Executive Chef for 20 of those years. He is also the founder of Fat Buster Club, a website dedicated to Health, Nutrition and Weight Loss Ideas as well as the sharing of ideas through the use of the Fat Buster Club Blog. Find valuable information on Health, Nutrition and Weight Loss at: http://www.fatbusterclub.com

Excerpts taken from and therefor credit given to: Wikipedia and “Dr. Perricone’s 10 Superfoods”