White Food
Eat a Rainbow – White Food

Don’t discount white food when it comes to a healthy diet. They might not be a colour of the rainbow, but the benefits of white foods like garlic include a lower risk of cancer and a reduction in blood pressure. Dietitian Juliette Kellow BSc RD reports.

Eat a Rainbow of White Food

By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD

Choose From...

Onions, garlic, shallots, turnip, parsnips, Jerusalem artichoke, bananas.

Good For...

A healthy heart, lowering the risk of some cancers and easing inflammation.

Why Should I Eat Them?

White isn’t exactly a colour of the rainbow, but white foods still contain important phytochemicals called anthoxanthins (or flavonols). One of the most common anthoxanthins is quercetin, which is found in good amounts in onions and shallots. Research shows that quercetin may lower the risk of heart disease and block the release of histamine, helping to ease the symptoms of allergies like hay fever. Plus, it’s thought to inhibit the enzymes that generate substances such as prostaglandins, which cause inflammation and the resulting pain and so may help to reduce the pain and swelling associated with inflammatory conditions like osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis. Garlic contains an antioxidant called allicin that has been found to act as a natural antibiotic and may help to reduce blood pressure.

According to the National Cancer Institute, many studies have provided evidence that the benefits of onions and garlic come from their sulphur compounds which give them their characteristic pungent smell. These compounds in onions and garlic may help to lower the risk of cancer.

In fact, of 37 studies in humans, 28 showed that garlic had some cancer preventive effect. However, all the available information comes from observational studies rather than clinical trials and most experts agree more research needs to be done before any definite conclusions can be drawn about the benefits of garlic and onions.

How To Eat More White Food...

Add onions and garlic to stir fries, pasta dishes, stews, casseroles and curries

Make your own onion and garlic dip using reduced-fat crème fraiche.

Try roasting onions in a little olive oil and serve them as a vegetable accompaniment.

Add finely chopped onion to tuna, egg or grated reduced-fat cheese for tasty potato toppings or sandwich fillings.

Serve salads with pickled onions.

To find out more:

Red Food
Orange and Yellow Food
Green Food
Blue and Purple Food


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