Red onions are a popular ingredient to salads, marinades, salsas and roasts and the sweet flavour of Italian red onions means they are often used to make marmalades, thanks to their extra juiciness.
Although it has been shown that the onion possesses various biological activities, such as being an antibiotic and antidiabetic, the chemistry of onions has been the subject of many investigations.
Lead researcher Zhen Yu Chen, from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said: “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. Our study was therefore undertaken to characterise the interaction of onions with enzymes in an attempt to explore the underlying cholesterol-lowering mechanism.
“This study was the first of its kind to investigate the interaction of red onions with biological functions. Results demonstrated that the onions decreased cholesterol levels in a dose-dependant manner. The results support the claim that the regular consumption of onions reduces the risk of coronary heart disease.”
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