Friday, June 17, 2005

Tears of Joy

Sure, onions can add flavor to your favorite dishes. But did you know that they can help in preventing osteoporosis, too? Scientists at the University of Bern, Switzerland, have discovered that a chemical compound found in onions appears to retard bone loss. Researchers analyzed the active chemical components of white onions and ascertained that a peptide called GPCS was most likely responsible for this benefit. This information adds to other studies, which have also found benefits in eating onions. Last month I told you about a study conducted at Cornell University that found that onions with the strongest flavor, such as New York bold onions, western onions, and yellow shallots, seem to inhibit the growth of liver and colon cancer cells. In the Swiss study, the researchers obtained a group of isolated bone cells from newborn rats and exposed the cells to parathyroid hormone to stimulate bone loss. They then exposed the treated cells to the peptide compound GPCS. They found that exposure to the compound helped to significantly inhibit the loss of bone minerals, including calcium. This is great (if not surprising) news; onions contain the antioxidant polyphenol, specifically the flavonoid quercetin. It is widely believed that polyphenols play a role in preventing the onset of all sorts of serious health conditions -- from certain cancers to cardiovascular disease. Now it looks like we can add osteoporosis to that list as well.

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