Skip to content

Is eating vegetables in the Allium family (garlic, onion, leeks, spring onions, garlic stalks) protective in regards to colon cancer? A recent study from China suggests that eating higher amounts of these vegetables is associated with a lower incidence of colorectal cancer in both men and women. Interestingly, the researchers only looked at these 5 vegetables, which are commonly eaten in China, but not other Allium vegetables that are commonly eaten elsewhere in the world - such as chives, scallions, and shallots. All Allium vegetables are rich in flavonols and organosulfur compounds, which have properties that inhibit tumors (anti-tumor) in laboratory studies. High intake of Allium vegetables is thought to be protective for a variety of cancers, e.g. prostate cancer.

The researchers mention that other studies examining this issue had mixed results - with some finding a protective effect of Allium vegetables, but not others. The researchers suggested that the high intake of these vegetables in the groups they studied and also cooking methods (which vary among different regions of China, as well as different countries) could explain the differences. For example, slicing and crushing fresh garlic releases beneficial compounds, but boiling onions leads to an approximately 30% loss of beneficial substances. After reviewing a number of studies that looked at Allium vegetable intake and cancer, it appears that while eating them cooked in any way is good, the most beneficial effects seem to be from raw Allium vegetables.

How much of the Allium vegetables did they eat? The healthy (non-colorectal cancer) group ate about 2 ounces or 1/4 cup of Allium vegetables per day (or 47 pounds annually), versus the colorectal cancer group ate about 1.5 ounces per day (or 15.92 kg or 35 lbs annually). Other differences between the groups were that the colorectal cancer group had higher intakes of alcohol and red meat, but less milk, other vegetables, and fruit (as compared to the healthy group). But both groups had the same intake of fiber. Bottom line: eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, including Allium vegetables (onions, garlic, leeks, spring onions, chives, scallions, shallots).

From Science Daily: Consuming garlic and onions may lower colorectal cancer risk   ...continue reading "Eating Garlic, Onions, and Leeks Linked to Lower Risk of Cancer"

This study found that men who eat a lot of garlic (4 cloves in raw or capsule form) had a "more attractive" body odor to women. This is body odor, which is different than breath odor. Since this study was done in Prague (capital of the Czech Republic), one wonders about cultural biases - is this a group that normally enjoys garlicky foods? What would women who never ate foods containing garlic think about the body odor? The researchers gave an evolutionary explanation, but...first this study needs to be replicated in a group that doesn't normally eat garlic. At any rate, the study results should give reassurance to those men who enjoy eating garlic - it's attractive to women! From Medical Xpress:

Research finds men who eat garlic smell more attractive

The beneficial health properties of garlic are well known, but researchers at the University of Stirling and Charles University in Prague have uncovered another less well known and surprising property – that the body odour of men who eat garlic is attractive to women. In a study of 42 men – who each were asked to eat raw garlic, garlic capsules, or no garlic – their body odour was perceived to be 'significantly more attractive' when they had eaten garlic in bulb and capsule form than when they hadn't eaten it.

For the study, 82 women were asked to sniff the odour samples and judge them on their pleasantness, attractiveness, masculinity and intensity. Researchers found the unexpected positive effect was only achieved once the men were eating a substantial amount of garlic. When the men ate 6g of garlic, equivalent to two cloves, with bread and cheese, there was no difference in the ratings between then and when they simply ate the bread and cheese on its own. 

But when the dosage was doubled to 12g, or four cloves, the men were reported to smell more attractive than when they hadn't eaten it. In the final experiment, when the men consumed the same amount of garlic, but in capsule form, their body odour was also perceived as more attractive.

Craig Roberts, Professor of Psychology at the University of Stirling, said: "Our results indicate that garlic consumption may have positive effects on the pleasure derived from perceived body odour perhaps due to its health effects....Previous research indicates that many animal species use diet-associated cues to select mates in good physical condition. "As the health benefits of garlic consumption include antioxidant, immunostimulant, cardiovascular, bactericidal and anti-cancer effects, it is plausible that human odour preferences have been shaped by sexual selection.

The study concludes that body odour, in contrast to breath odour, is positively affected by garlic and that these two sources of odour should be strictly differentiated. As breath odour plays an important factor in intimate relationships further studies may be carried out.