The Cancer Fighting Effects of Garlic, Leeks, and Onions

Onions can stimulate bowel movement and promote digestion.(Image: Pixabay  /  CC0 1.0)
Onions can stimulate bowel movement and promote digestion.(Image: Pixabay / CC0 1.0)

The allium class of bulb-shaped plants includes garlic, leeks, and onions, as well as garnishes such as scallions (green onions), shallots, and chives. Allium vegetables have powerful nourishing properties. Experts say you can enhance the many health-promoting and cancer-fighting effects of allium by adopting certain culinary habits. Are you ready to embrace the almighty bulbs?

A powerful combination of elements

The power of alliums. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Allium vegetables, including garlic, have powerful nourishing properties. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Alliums have long been prized for their ability to combat coronary heart disease, gastric ulcers, and osteoporosis. Recent research shows alliums, including garlic, are a natural preventative cancer treatment. More than one element in the vegetable is responsible for the ability to work as a natural preventative cancer treatment.

One such cancer-protective component is inulin, a dietary fiber in the fructan. Inulin stores energy in plants, usually taking the place of other carbohydrates, such as starch.

In one study, first published in Genetics and Molecular Research, inulin was tested for its antimutagenic properties — meaning its ability to protect DNA from damage that causes mutations. Mutations from damaged DNA are often considered to be the reason many cancers form.

Alliums have long been prized for their ability to lower cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Alliums, such as leeks, have long been prized for their ability to combat coronary heart disease, gastric ulcers, and osteoporosis. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

In the allium family, leeks, along with garlic and onions, have been observed to have different effects throughout each stage of cancer formation, affecting biological processes that determine cancer risk. Of particular interest is the major impact of leeks on cancers of the gastrointestinal tract. Consuming leeks is also correlated with a significant decrease in risk for prostate cancer.

Another factor in the leek’s cancer-fighting ability is diallyl trisulfide, a bioactive compound found in allium vegetables. Also referred to as DATS, this valuable substance has been shown to stop the growth of new tumor cells and prevent the formation of blood vessels within existing tumors (which is one way in which cancerous tumors ensure their continued growth).

Perhaps the most fascinating element in allium vegetables, however, is kaempferol. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Perhaps the most fascinating element in allium vegetables, such as the garnish scallions or green onions, is kaempferol. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Allium vegetables also contain allicin, an organosulfur compound that produces sulfenic acid as it digests. That may not sound thrilling until you realize that sulfenic acid neutralizes the spread of free radicals in your body faster than any other nutrient. Low amounts of free radicals in the body are associated with a lower possibility of cancer.

Perhaps the most fascinating element in allium vegetables, however, is kaempferol. This natural flavonol is an antioxidant, relieving oxidative stress in the blood.

The allium class of bulb-shaped plants includes chives. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

The allium class of bulb-shaped plants includes the garnish chives. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Specifically, kaempferol consumption is linked to lower risks of gastric cancer and possibly colorectal cancer. One potential reason for this is that kaempferol protects blood vessel linings from damage by reducing stiffness, allowing the vessels to relax and dilate as they release nitric oxide.

That’s a pretty amazing list and it’s very easy (and delicious) to include alliums in your current diet. They can be used in a multitude of main dishes or complements in most savory dishes, particularly soups and sauces, and their strong taste as a garnish adds a punch to otherwise bland recipes!

The writer of this story is not a medical professional, and the information that is in this story has been collected from reliable sources — every precaution has been taken to ensure its accuracy. The information provided is for general information purposes only, and should not be substituted for professional health care.

Translated by Chua, B.C. and edited by Aizhu Lu.

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