Who hasn’t heard the folklore that vampires and evil spirits are repelled by garlic? Both garlic and onions are part of the same plant family known as Allium genus. They are packed with a long history of healing and health benefits. For this Grow with Nutrition blog, I’m sharing with you how to add more garlic and onions on your menu.
Both are considered prebiotic foods. First of all, let’s get one thing straight, prebiotics and probiotics are not the same. Often my clients mix up the two terms or think they are equal. Prebiotics are non-digestible, soluble dietary fibre found in certain foods like garlic and onions and when consumed, provide a beneficial environment in the gut for good bacteria (including probiotics) to flourish (1). Probiotics are live microorganisms which, when consumed in adequate amounts, give a health benefit to you.
Garlic and Health
In addition to its prebiotic effects for digestive health, garlic is touted as one of the top foods for heart and immune health (2, 3). Garlic’s antioxidant properties have been shown to reduce the risk factors for heart disease (2) and to build up the immune system, reducing the risk of some cancers (3).
Onions and Health
The onion is a rich source of antioxidants known as flavonoids. Research indicates that a diet containing an abundance of flavonoids may help promote immune health and prevent diseases and degenerative changes associated with aging (4, 5). In addition, the bulb of an onion contains compounds such as the micronutrient selenium with properties that are both anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial which promotes both heart health and immune health (5).
Yes Please – Garlic and Onions on My Menu
Garlic starts off being quite pungent and gradually sweetens as it is cooked. It is often used with onion, tomato, and ginger. It can be minced, chopped, stir-fried, smoked, and baked whole. I use freshly minced garlic in a variety of sauces and dressings. I like to add it chopped with pears, blue cheese and walnuts as gourmet pizza toppings.
Onions typically come in the colours yellow, red and white. While yellow and white onions are for everyday cooking, red onions are quite palatable when consumed raw in salads or as a sandwich garnish. Like me, most people enjoy onions for the taste and crunch when eaten raw. Onions can be baked, grilled, fried, and roasted. It is one of the three important ingredients (usually with celery and carrots) in the mirepoix, which is the starting flavour for many soups, stews, sauces, and braises.
On the weekend or if you have the time on a weeknight, for a different flavour and texture, try caramelizing onions as a garnish for burgers or pizza. Here is a step by step recipe to caramelize onions from allrecipes.com
Let me know your favourite way to enjoy both garlic and onions over the spring and summer seasons!
- Slavin, J. Fiber and Prebiotics: Mechanisms and Health Benefits. Nutrients. 2013; 5:1417-1435.
- Amagase H, Petesch BL, Matsuura H, Kasuga S, Itakura Y. Intake of garlic and its bioactive components. J Nutr. 2001;131(3):955S-62S.
- Khanum F, Anilakumar KR, Viswanathan KR. Anticarcinogenic Properties of Garlic: A Review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2004;44(6):479-88.
- Nemeth K, Piskula MK. Food Content, Processing, Absorption and Metabolism of Onion Flavonoids. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2007;47(4):397-409.
- Kavalcová P, Bystrická J, Trebichalský P, Volnová B, Kopernická M. The Influence of Selenium on Content of Total Polyphenols and Antioxidant Activity of Onion (Allium Cepa L.). J Microbiol Biotechnol Food 2014;3:238-240.