Health Benefits of Shallots
Some of the impressive health benefits of shallots include their ability to lower cholesterol levels, prevent certain types of cancer, provide anti-fungal, antibacterial, and antiviral protection, lower blood pressure, help manage diabetes, soothe nerves, boost circulation, speed up digestion, and aid in weight loss efforts.
Shallots are normally considered a variety of onions, and they share the same species, Allium cepa, although they are in a subspecies variety called the Aggragatium group. They are also closely related to garlic and have a similar structure of a head composed of multiple cloves. They vary in color from golden brown to rose-red, and the inner flesh is pulpy white, with some green coloring. They are probably native to Southeast Asia and moved from there into India and traveled to the Mediterranean region through trade and general crop movement. Shallots have been cultivated for thousands of years, appearing in Greek literature and history. They are also not cultivated in Africa.
They offer an interesting culinary flavor to foods and can be used either fresh or as a pickled vegetable product. They taste somewhat like onions, but have a slightly milder taste. However, similar to garlic and onions, shallots cause irritation in the eye when sliced. Shallots are prepared in numerous ways, including deep-fried as a condiment in certain Asian cultures. They are valued not only for their unique flavor and availability, but also for their significant nutrient value, which is actually superior to common onions in a number of ways. Let’s take a closer look at some of the nutrients that compose this versatile and popular vegetable.
Nutritional Facts of Shallots
Shallots are rich in flavonols and polyphenolic compounds, which are actually in higher quantities in shallots than in onions and garlic. Furthermore, shallots also contain dietary fiber, protein, vitamin C, potassium, folate, vitamin A, vitamin B6, and manganese.
Health Benefits of Shallots
Antioxidant Activity: Perhaps the best nutritional bonus of shallots is the high and diverse content of antioxidant compounds, including quercetin, kemferol, and various sulfuric antioxidants. These antioxidants are released when the cell surface is disrupted, which happend during slicing or crushing, similar to garlic. When these antioxidants are released, they form another valuable compound called allicin. This powerful compound helps to reduce cell mutation and various cancers. Studies have connected shallots to a reduction in lung and oral cancers, as well as stomach, colorectal, and breast cancer.
Circulation and Metabolism: The mineral content of shallots is typically higher than that of onions, including iron, copper, and potassium. Iron and copper can help to boost circulation in the body by stimulating the production of red blood cells. With more RBC in the blood stream, blood circulation increases, bringing more oxygen to important areas of the body and increasing energy, vitality, cell regrowth, healing, and metabolism.
Cholesterol and Heart Health: Allicin, the compound formed when shallots are sliced and diced, has been directly linked to regulating cholesterol levels in the body. Allicin actually inhibits an reductase enzyme that is produced in the liver, which is the enzyme that controls cholesterol production. By lowering total cholesterol levels in the body, shallots can help prevent atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes.
Blood Pressure: The combination of potassium, a well known vasodilator, and the action of allicin, which releases nitric oxide in the body, blood pressure is significantly decreased. A vasodilator relaxes the walls of the blood vessels and allows blood to flow more freely. This prevents clotting and stress on the cardiovascular system, further boosting heart health.
Diabetes Control: Two of the phytochemical compounds found in shallots, allium and allyl disulfide, have anti-diabetic properties, meaning that they help to regulate the levels of blood sugar in the body. This can be very helpful for diabetics who need to keep their blood sugar levels under control.
Soothes Nerves: The various minerals and vitamins found in shallots, including pyridoxine, can help to stimulate the release of GABA in the brain, which is very important for maintaining low stress levels and keeping the hormones in the body at the proper levels. If you want to reduce stress or relax your mind, shallots can give you a quick GABA boost. Folic acid is also found in significant quantities in shallots, which is an essential B-vitamin that can help with mental and emotional help by regulating hormonal and enzymatic reactions in the brain.
A Final Word of Caution: There are no common allergies to shallots, like most members of that species (onions and garlic). However, rare allergies do exist, so monitor your body and consume shallots in moderation.