Of all the types of onions, the red variety are the most effective at killing breast and colon cancer cells, according to a recent study published in Food Research International. And that’s not the only reason they’re one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat.
Researchers from the University of Guelph removed the antioxidant quercetin from five different onion varieties and placed them in direct contact with colon cancer cells. The red onions killed more of the cancer cells than any other variety, they reported.
Turns out, the dark color of red onions—which indicates higher levels of anthocyanin, a pigment that increases the effectiveness of quercetin—could make them powerful cancer fighters. “Anthocyanin is instrumental in providing color to fruits and vegetables, so it makes sense that the red onions, which are darkest in color, would have the most cancer-fighting power,” study author Abdulmonem Murayyan said in a statement.
According to Murayyan, the “onions activate pathways that encourage cancer cells to undergo cell death. They promote an unfavorable environment for cancer cells and they disrupt communication between cancer cells, which inhibits growth.”
Of course, we shouldn’t discriminate; every onion variety provides these benefits. “All onions are potent cancer fighters thanks to their high concentrations of the antioxidants anthocyanin and quercetin,” Karen Ansel R.D.N., author of Healing Superfoods for Anti-aging: Stay Younger, Live Longer told Women’s Health. But red onions come out on top, thanks to their high amounts of the pigment anthocyanin.
Scientists hope to test the effects of red onions on humans in the future. Until then, you can easily try swapping white onions for red to reap the most benefits from their powerful antioxidants. If you do, here’s how not to cry while you’re chopping them.
[Source: Women’s Health]