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Could this be the queen of antioxidants?

Heart disease, diabetes, cancer...for complete protection it pays to know your onions

You’ve probably heard the expression, "eat the rainbow". Far from being an invitation to stuff your face full of Skittles, this phrase was designed to encourage people to incorporate more fruits and veggies in their diets. But behind the simple message is a wealth of science about why a variation of fruits and vegetables can be both pleasing to the eye and good for your health.

Just by looking at your food, you can learn a lot about its nutritional value and the health benefits it has to offer. The colour of your fruit and vegetables is a signpost for the specific nutrients it contains, and eating a variety of colours is a sure-fire way to load up on as many of those vitamins and minerals as possible (and take the humdrum out of meal times).

For example, yellow and orange skin on fruits and vegetables indicate they are rich in vitamins C and A. Green tells you that the fruit or veggie is abundant in vitamins K, B, and E, and purple produce is high in vitamins C and K.

These natural plant pigments known as phytochemicals play a powerful role in fighting inflammation, stress, and diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

One phytochemical that has caught the attention of researchers over the last decade is a flavonoid called quercetin, with several studies suggesting that this nutrient has the ability to boost cardiovascular health and protect us against a variety of conditions.

So it’s no surprise, then, that some people are popping it in supplement form. But do you really need a pill to reap the benefits of the so-called plant-based powerhouse?

Unfortunately humans cannot make quercetin in their body, but many plant foods can provide you with this health-promoting compound. These are some of the common foods highest in quercetin:

  • Onions

  • Watercress

  • Cilantro

  • Asparagus

  • Okra

  • Red Leaf Lettuce

  • Kale

  • Cranberries

  • Blueberries

  • Gala Apples

Your body finds it difficult to absorb quercetin properly, so naturally a supplement—which usually contains concentrated amounts of it—would make sense if you’re trying to up your intake. However, research from Current Research in Nutrition and Food Science found that the quercetin in whole foods is more bioavailable to the body than capsule varieties.

Certain studies also suggest that some plant-based foods are superior to others in term of their quercetin bioavailability. For example, a study published in the Federation of European Biochemical Societies found that the quercetin from onions is more bioavailable than that from apples, and that eating the antioxidant alongside heart-healthy fats can improve absorption too.

Being one of the most common and well-researched flavonoids, numerous health benefits have been identified for quercetin. For starters, according to a study published in the International Journal of Medical Sciences, quercetin is a more potent antioxidant at fighting free radicals than even vitamin C, vitamin E, and β-carotene.

Free radicals are basically unstable molecules in the body that can harm your cells, possibly leading to serious disease like cancer.

Free radicals can also activate the genes that cause inflammation in the body - and as you've likely heard, chronic inflammation is also behind many diseases.

Primarily because of quercetin's unique and powerful abilities to fight free radicals and inflammation, it's been shown to benefit health in many ways, and below are the top 7 research-based ways.

Fight Cancer: 

Studies show quercetin may suppress and even kill cancer cells in the prostate, liver, lung, breast, bladder, colon, blood and more.

Reduce Blood Pressure: 

High blood pressure is linked to increased risk of heart disease. Science shows quercetin may be a very powerful aid in reducing it.

Fight Alzheimer's and Dementia: 

Research suggests quercetin may protect against and even help combat Alzheimer's and dementia.

Relieve Allergy Symptoms: 

Because it can block enzymes involved in inflammation-promoting chemicals, such as histamine, quercetin may provide strong allergy relief.

Prevention Infections: 

Because of its antibacterial properties and its ability to fight certain viruses, quercetin may protect against infections, such as in the lungs, in the stomach and intestines, and on skin.

Combat Aging: 

Studies on quercetin show great promise that it can rejuvenate aging cells and reduce signs of aging.

Regulate Blood Sugar: 

Research also shows quercetin may lower fasting blood sugar levels and help protect against diabetes complications.


This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor or healthcare provider before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.


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