CONFIRMED: Eating lots of onion, garlic, and ginger improves your health
10/03/2018 // Ellaine Castillo // Views

Onion (Allium cepa), garlic (Allium sativum), and ginger (Zingiber officinale) are common spices that are added to our food, but they are more than just that. A study conducted by researchers from Noakhali Science and Technology UniversityAtish Dipankar University of Science and Technology, and Bangladesh National Herbarium have proven that these spices have potential use in preventing diseases caused by free radicals.

Different chemical reactions in our body, such as metabolism, produce atoms with unpaired electrons, called free radicals. These atoms are highly unstable; so much so that they become highly reactive and try to capture electrons from other atoms. This causes a chain of events that lead to altered cell membranes and lipid structure, as well as DNA mutations.

The body has developed a mechanism for getting rid of these free radicals. It produces substances known as antioxidants, which are able to give away electrons to free radicals without becoming unstable. However, there are instances wherein massive amounts of free radicals are produced in the body due to different lifestyle factors, such as smoking, alcohol, fried foods, and exposure to toxic substances. These lifestyle habits result in the body's inability to produce enough antioxidants to be able to get rid of all these free radicals, causing oxidative stress.

Oxidative stress has been associated with diseases like macular degeneration, cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, arthritis, and lupus. Fortunately, oxidative stress can be avoided by eating antioxidant-rich foods and herbs that can balance out the existing free radicals.


In this study, which was published in Free Radicals and Antioxidants, the researchers evaluated the antioxidant activity of ethanolic extracts of onion, garlic, and ginger. They did this by determining total phenolic and flavonoid content. Results of the experiment showed that ginger had the highest total phenolic content, followed by onion and then garlic. In addition to this, onion exhibited the highest total flavonoid content while ginger had the lowest.

Aside from these tests, the researchers also conducted a 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) radical scavenging assay. From this it was observed that ginger had the highest free radical scavenging activity, followed by onion and then garlic. These results could be attributed to the amount of phenolic substances in the different extracts.

The results of this study show that ethanolic extracts of onion, garlic, and ginger have potent antioxidant activities. With further understanding of the actual mechanisms of their antioxidant activities, they could replace synthetic antioxidants that are used to treat oxidative stress-related diseases. (Related: Oxidative stress and inflammation - two things that age humans the fastest.)

These three spices have also been shown to have the following health benefits:

  • Reducing inflammation – Both onion and ginger have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. In onions, this can be attributed to the presence of sulfuric compounds and a substance known as quercetin. Meanwhile, ginger's anti-inflammatory property is due to the bioactive compound, gingerol.
  • Improving cholesterol levels – Studies have shown that eating garlic can reduce total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels by 10 to 15 percent. In addition, garlic seems to have no effect on the good cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.
  • Regulating blood sugar – Chromium and sulfuric compounds in onion are able to lower blood sugar levels in patients suffering from both types of diabetes. Ginger has also been shown to have the same results, however, the component responsible for regulating blood sugar has not been determined.
  • Boosting the immune system – Adding garlic to a person's diet has been shown to lower the incidence of colds by 63 percent. In addition to this, the average length of a cold is also reduced from five days to one and a half days.

Learn more about how onions, garlic, ginger, and other superfoods can keep you healthy by visiting today.

Sources include: [PDF] 1 2 1 2

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