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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Smell therapy
- A chemical reduces the loss of valuable minerals

Onions don’t just add flavour to spicy food; they can also help fight bone loss, according to a recent study reported in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Researchers at the University of Bern in Switzerland have identified a compound in the popular vegetable that may prevent osteoporosis, or brittle-bone disease, which predominantly affects older women.

The researchers found that a constituent of onion called gamma glutamyl peptide (GGP) has the potential to cut down the loss of bone in women after menopause. In order to artificially stimulate bone loss, the researchers led by Dr Rudolf Brenneisen exposed isolated bone cells from newborn rats to parathyroid hormone (which regulates metabolism of bone minerals). They also exposed some of those damaged bone to GGP ' extracted from fresh onions. They found that the treatment with GGP significantly reduced the loss of bone minerals, including calcium, when compared with bones which were not treated with the chemical.

Brenneisen and his colleagues say that their study with laboratory rats suggests that an intake of about 400 grams of onion is necessary for men or women to enjoy this bone-protective effect of onions.

Further studies are needed to determine the exact minimum dose of onion for those who want to reap benefits from it. The mechanism of action of GGP also needs to be investigated in greater detail, say the researchers.

3 more benefits the bulb can offer

1: As with garlic, onions help prevent thrombosis and reduce hypertension, according to the American Heart Association. The juice of one yellow or white onion a day can raise HDL cholesterol (the good stuff) by 30 per cent over time, according to Dr Victor Gurewich of the Tufts University. Red onions don’t provide the same effect.

2: Onions are famous for preventing cancer. Latest research shows that onions with the strongest flavours do that job the best. So you can forget about bad breath and begin chomping down the strongest onions. Also, add a dash of raw garlic to make it more effective.

3: A special variety of onion sans the pungent smell are milder and easier to digest. You can consume the ‘sweet’ onion in abundance, thus obtaining all the health benefits that these delicious vegetable offers. Best of all, you won’t shed any tears in the process.

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