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Humble red onion may be good for heart

Posted by Elizebath Bijoy Wednesday, March 23, 2011

London: Red onion, commonly used in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine, could help prevent heart disease. Scientists have discovered that it helps remove bad cholesterol - which can cause heart attacks and strokes - from the body.

At the same time, red onions retain the body's good cholesterol, which helps protect against heart disease.

Scientists in Hong Kong fed crushed red onions to hamsters which had all been put on a high cholesterol diet, reports the Daily Mail. They found that after eight weeks, levels of bad cholesterol, or low density lipoprotein (LDL), had dropped by an average of 20 percent.

But over the same period, there was no reduction in the hamsters' high cholesterol levels, also known as high density lipoprotein (HDL).

Zhen Yu Chen, who led the research at 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,' Zhen said.

'This study is the first of its kind to investigate the interaction of red onions with biological functions. This results support the claim that the regular consumption of onion reduces the risk of coronary heart disease.'

Although white onions are by far the most popular type in Britain, red onions are widely used in India, the Mediterranean and the Middle East. They are far sweeter than the white variety and are often used raw in salads.

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