Shallots are an extremely well recognised part of folk medicine native to Asia as well as being a versatile ingredient. They are closely related to onions as you’ve probably guessed, and share some similarities with garlic. If you love onions and would never dare to pick up a shallot, let me see if I can convince you otherwise with our Top 5 Health Benefits of Shallots!
1. Studies show they can help prevent cancer
Shallots (like many species in the Allium genus) contain cysteine sulfoxide compounds which are supposedly responsible for a lot of the positive effects associated with shallots medically. However, according to a study conducted for the journal of Plant Physiology and Biochemistry, another very important compound in them are steroidal saponins. The saponins present in shallots show very promising anti-cancer agents and have supposedly exhibited remarkable effects on cancer cell lines like B16 melanoma, 4T1 breast carcinoma and pheochromocytoma PC12.
2. Possess antimicrobial effects
Alongside their anti-cancer properties, shallots have been proven to have anti-microbial effects which means they contain compounds that positively affect a multitude of different harmful things like bacteria, parasites and viruses. This is because of their biologically active compounds such as allicin, diallyl disulphide, S-allylcysteine, and diallyl trisulfide. Allicin, in one study conducted for the Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences, was highlighted as a key compound for combatting Human Cytomegalovirus (HCMV) and the influenza B virus.
3. Useful for diabetics
Diabetes is a serious problem in the UK and US with almost 3.7 million people being diagnosed with diabetes in the UK and 30.3 million diagnosed in the US. Flavonoids, such as can be found in shallots are reportedly extremely helpful to those suffering with the disease as they can increase glucose tolerance. According to a study published in the International Journal of the Bioflux Society, the effects of shallots on diabetic mice were extremely promising with quercetin (a potent antioxidant) proving to improve glucose tolerance and decrease impotence.
4. Anti-fungal properties
A study conducted in 2011 analysed the effects shallots have on a fungal infection known as candidiasis which supposedly effects 75% of all women at some stage in their lifetimes. The study had promising results supposedly due to shallots’ naturally occurring alcohol and ethanol properties. Alongside this, another study referenced suggested that allicin (the aforementioned biologically active compound) also has a positive influence on fungal infections.
5. Help maintain your capillary health
According to a published article in Toxicology in Vitro, certain properties in shallots cause angiogenesis which is the creation of new capillaries from old ones. The study showed that quercetin inhibited several of the necessary steps to make angiogenesis happen which means a healthy diet that includes shallots could help maintain your capillaries.
Convinced yet? Shallots are amazing in spicy meals as their origins lie in the heart of Asia but they are an extremely versatile food stuff and can be used in place of onions for almost any dish. There are lots of different varieties to try from like brown, banana and pink but, for now, that’s shal-lot! Have something to say about these potent onion alternatives? Comment below, join in the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. (Gather some more healthy-eating ideas from our other Top 5’s designed to help you Keep YOUR Fit ON!)