Meet the Allium family: garlic, onions, leeks, scallions, shallots and chives.
When it comes to cancer, they’re incendiary–packed with sulphur containing molecules that ward off disease. And no wonder they’re so powerful. They originated in central Asia north of Afghanistan—as pests go, a tough neck of the woods.
The ancient Egyptians, Chinese and Greeks all cherished Alliums for their medicinal value, and in the mid 1800s Louis Pasteur proved them right. He showed that garlic fights bacteria.
Today, the anticancer benefits of Alliums have been touted in many studies. The sulphur-containing compounds, it seems, prevent the activation of carcinogenic substances, thus protecting your DNA from damage in the first place, and interfere with cancer cell growth, leading to cell suicide or apoptosis.
Onions contain an additonal class of compounds—polyphenols– that keep cancer from growing. You’ve probably heard of quercetin, for example, available in supplement form and in the onion’s outer rings.
There’s a key, though, to ingesting your Alliums: When you crush, chop and chew the veggies, they unleash their cancer warriors. So attack with a knife, let them sit a few minutes to release the cancer-fighting molecules, then cook them—or even eat them raw. In fact with garlic, you’re best off with the raw version. As with all foods, chew very well.
Two raw, freshly crushed cloves of garlic a day to keep disease away? Don’t fret about the aftermath. You can always chomp on a handful of parsley or mint.