Discovering Red Onion's Benefits

October 8/Hong Kong/domain-b --  According to scientists, the humble red onion could help prevent heart disease.

They have discovered that the vegetable -- commonly used in Mediterranean and Indian cuisine -- is instrumental in removing bad cholesterol, which can cause heart attacks and strokes, from the body.

However, the vegetable's health benefits do not stop at that, it also plays a vital role retaining good cholesterol, which help protect against heart disease, in the body.

Scientists in Hong Kong fed hamster who had been placed on a high-cholesterol diet with crushed onions.

They found that after eight weeks, bad cholesterol levels, or low density lipoprotein (LDL) levels in their, had fallen an average of 20%.

However, the high density cholesterol levels of hamsters showed no change.

A Daily Mail report quoted Zhen Yu Chen, who headed the research as saying that the results support the claim that regular consumption of onion reduced risk of coronary heart disease. The research was performed at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

According to Chen, despite extensive research on onions, little is known of how their consumption interacts with human genes and proteins involved in cholesterol metabolism within the body.

He said that they had undertaken the study to characterise the interaction of onions with enzymes in an attempt to explore the underlying cholesterol-lowering mechanism.

Although white onions are more widely used in Britain, red onions are more commonly used in India, the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

Red onions are much sweeter than the white variety and are often consumed raw in salads. 

From the October 18, 2010, Prepared Foods E-dition