Healing foods - garlic, onion, chives, leeks, shallots

Photo by janscheffner
Garlic, onions, chives, leeks and shallots all belong to the alliaceous family of plants - alliums.  Garlic is recognized as one of the oldest medicinal herbs (prescribed on Sumerian tablets from 3000 BC). Louis Pasteur observed its antibacterial properties in 1858 and during World War I, garlic was widely used in bandages to prevent infections.  Russian soldiers in WWII used it when there was a shortage of antibiotics and it garnered the name "Russian penicillin".

The alliums are great foods for cancer prevention and halting cancer growth.

The organosulphur compounds in this family of plants are seen to prevent the development of cancer by detoxifying nitrosamines and N-nitroso compounds, which are created from over-grilling meat and during tobacco consumption.


They promote apoptosis (cell death) in colon, breast, lung and prostate cancer, as well as in leukemia and also block angiogenesis (- the formation of blood vessels needed to provide nutrients to the cancer tumor).

Epidemiological studies suggest a reduction in kidney and prostate cancer in people who consume the most garlic.

Photo by Sensinct
Moreover, all the plants in this family help to regulate blood sugar levels which in turn, reduces insulin secretion and Insulin-like growth factor, and thus reduces the growth of cancer cells.

Onions also contain high concentrations of health-promoting flavonoid antioxidants, predominantly quercitin, and red onions also contain at least 25 different anthocyanins. Quercetin slows tumor development, suppresses growth and proliferation and induces cell death in colon cancer cells.  Flavonoids also have anti-inflammatory effects that may contribute to cancer prevention.


Photo by tallpines

Active molecules of garlic are released when a garlic clove is crushed and are more easily assimilated if they are dissolved in a little oil.

Try and include an alliaceous food every day, for example chopped garlic and onions mixed with steamed vegetables, or raw onion or chives on a salad or in a sandwich.

What's your favorite way to eat a food from the allium family?  Is it:

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