Superfoods: The Allium Family

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Posted by Meeta K. Wolff

Onions, Garlic, Chives, Leeks, Shallots and Scallions

If açaí is the most exotic food on this list, the Allium family of foods is perhaps the most humble. The Chinese refer to the Alliums-garlic, onions, leeks, shallots, scallions, and chives-as “jewels among vegetables”, and prize them for their health-giving properties and for their sharp taste and smell.

Garlic, onions, leeks and chives contain flavonoids that stimulate the production of glutathione (the tripeptide that is the liver's most potent antioxidant). Glutathione enhances 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 this family.


  • 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. Dehydrated garlic flakes, garlic powder, garlic extract, garlic juice are all convenient products, they're a poor flavor substitute for the less expensive, readily available and easy-to-store fresh garlic. So always go for fresh garlic.


  • 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 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

This 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. Remember, the stabilization of blood sugar is one of the most important goals of the Perricone Promise. Spikes in blood sugar accelerate aging, wrinkles and a host of degenerative diseases.

We all know that onions and garlic are important for imparting delicious flavor to a meal. However, when we include leeks, we raise the flavor of the meal from delicious to "sublime."

(Source: Dr. Perricone’s 10 superfoods)

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This Post was contributed by Pintoo from Zaayka


very informative post and nice pics.

bee said...
July 19, 2007 at 5:49:00 PM GMT+2  

I think it's just fantastic what everyday food for many of us (especially Indians) like the garlic and onion is so powerful. Indians love eating plain onions in larger pieces with their meals and I am no different. LOL! Eating plain garlic is another story though. But I often see at our pharmacy that they offer garlic pills and wonder if these are any good!

Meeta K. Wolff said...
July 20, 2007 at 7:37:00 AM GMT+2  

I grow alliums in the garden too--they're just beautiful each spring.

Scribbit said...
July 20, 2007 at 9:18:00 AM GMT+2  

Meeta, garlic pills are great. Just make sure you get a good one. If your pharmacy sells it, its probably no good. Go to a health food store and ask someone for a good one. Kyolic is my personal favorite. But fresh is always best.h

Unknown said...
July 21, 2007 at 3:04:00 AM GMT+2  

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