Lower Risk for Heart Disease

Red and yellow onions are rich in quercetin, and they are great for your health.

| March/April 1997

With the increasing emphasis on disease prevention, you may know the term “bioflavonoid”. Recent human studies have shown that, within limits, the more bioflavonoids you consume, the lower your risk for heart and blood vessel disease.

Bioflavonoids are chemicals that are widely distributed in herbs and edible plants. The most common bioflavonoid in the human diet is quercetin. Red wine, cranberries, apples, cayenne pepper, cabbage, garlic, and black and green tea are all sources of quercetin but, more than any herb, red and yellow onions are exceedingly rich sources. In fact, their papery, outer skin—the peel that we usually discard—is the richest quer­cetin source of all.

For years, traditional herbal medicine has used onion to treat asthma, high cholesterol, weak capillaries, inflammation, viruses, and allergies. How­ever, modern science has only recently begun to explore the role of quercetin in preventing and treating such diseases.

So far, laboratory and human studies of bio­fla­vo­noids as a group show that they:

• Reduce the risk of heart attack by lowering blood cholesterol.

• Stabilize and strengthen capillaries, the smallest blood vessels, thus reducing risk of stroke, hypertension, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and bruising.

• Reduce inflammation.

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