Shallots are a rich source of vitamin A, B and E, they are low in fat and contain just 40-50 calories per 80g (which counts as one portion towards the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day). Shallots have high levels of vitamin C – twice that of onions! Their vitamin C content is doubled if they are eaten raw, for example in salads.
Shallots are a good source of potassium which is important for maintenance of stable blood pressure and they are low in sodium. Shallots contain Allicin which is thought to help lower blood cholesterol levels, promote good heart health and stimulate the body’s immune system.
Two of the UK’s most popular slimming clubs acknowledge that shallots are a good choice for those on a weight loss diet. Slimming World calls shallots ‘free food’ and on Weight Watchers shallots have ‘no points'. Shallots can be eaten freely on these and other slimming diets.
The health properties of all fruit and vegetables have been the subject of wide research. The results suggest that fruit and vegetables contain nutrients and compounds that help the body destroy carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) before they damage cells, thereby reducing cancer risk. It seems to be the antioxidant properties (the ability to neutralise harmful free-radicals in the body) of vitamins such as A and C that offer this defence.
The US Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry carried out a study in 2004 which indicates that some onion varieties may contain more health-promoting substances than others. Shallots had the highest antioxidant content of the varieties tested.
Oxidants are the most common toxic agent we encounter in our food and their effects include ageing, heart disease and cancer. Produced by complex pathways, anti-oxidants neutralise oxidants. Research suggests that quercetin could help reduce the risk of some cancers and heart disease. Shallots contain the flavanoid compound quercetin. Research indicates that flavanoids act as anti-oxidants.
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