The allium vegetables are members of the lily family. They include garlic, onions, leeks and shallots. All of these vegetables concentrate trace minerals from the soil that are necessary for optimum health. They also produce a wide range of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds. At least two of the sulfur compounds found in allium vegetables have been proven to reduce high blood pressure.
Other boosts to health claimed by the alliums:
*Pain relief from lessened local inflammation
*Weight loss due to lessened systemic inflammation
*Lowered cholesterol levels
*Lowered risks from cardiovascular diseases because of lessened inflammatory and oxidative stress on the blood vessels and heart
*Lowered stroke risk because on of the sulfur compounds prevents blood platelets from becoming too sticky and forming clots inside the blood vessels
*Greater resistance to fungal, yeast, viral and bacterial infections – especially when eaten raw or applied raw to wounds and burns
*Increased resistance to cancers – especially when higher amounts are eaten
*Natural mosquito repellent when consumed raw
The positive health effects of eating allium vegetables seems to be greater when the fresh vegetable is consumed, with lesser positive health effects for extracts and powders. Eating these vegetable raw also seems to increase at least some of the benefits. On the other hand, some of the beneficial compounds seem more available to the body when the vegetables are cooked.
I try to eat some allium vegetables at least twice each day. Very thinly sliced raw garlic on a salad or sliced tomatoes adds a pungent “bite”. Raw garlic/onion/shallot can be pureed into any salad or vegetable dressing. Any of these vegetables is delicious oven-roasted, steamed or boiled with baby Peruvian purple potatoes or mixed yellow and zucchini squash. Oven-roasted garlic makes a great addition to mashed potatoes, cauliflower or parsnips. Poultry, meat or fish to be roasted can be studded with slivers of garlic or smeared with pureed onion or shallot. Not just your taste buds, but your whole body, will thank you for eating more of these vegetables.