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The unexpected health benefit of eating red onions

Prima logo Prima 10/06/2017 Francesca Rice

Red onions have cancer-fighting benefits, says study © Tim MacPherson / Getty Red onions have cancer-fighting benefits, says study They're often overlooked for their white counterparts, but you might want to start adding red onions into your recipes because scientists have discovered that they offer an unexpected health benefit...

Apparently, they might have cancer-fighting properties...

Yep, that's right – scientists from the University of Guelph reckon that red onions are rich in chemicals that can help kill tumour cells.

'We found onions are excellent at killing cancer cells,' wrote study co-author Abdulmonem Murayya in the journal Food Research International. 'Onions activate pathways that encourage cancer cells to undergo cell death. They promote an unfavourable environment for cancer cells and they disrupt communication between cancer cells, which inhibits growth.'

The team tested their theory on colon cancer cells in the lab, and now hope to begin a human trial with the aim of ultimately creating a red onion extract pill to help fight cancer.

But it's worth noting that the study used a specific type of 'Ruby Ring' red onion grown in Ontario, Canada (no, we've never had them either), so who knows if the ones in your local supermarket would be quite so beneficial...

Speaking about the findings, Cancer Research UK's senior science information officer Dr Justine Alford told Prima.co.uk: 'While onions can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables, this study – done on cells in a lab – doesn't suggest that eating them can cure cancer.

'The researchers found that extracts from certain types of onions could kill bowel cancer cells in a lab, but that doesn't mean the same would happen in a person's body which is much more complex.

'It's interesting, though, that some onions appear to be rich in molecules that previous studies have suggested could have anti-cancer properties. If scientists can tease out which molecules in onions have these apparently beneficial effects, then perhaps they could be investigated as a potential drug in the future.'

In the meantime, we might just add this superfood into as many dishes as possible. Greek salad, anyone?

Related: Young Adults Are More Likely To Have Colon Cancer (Provided by Wochit News)

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