Onion's perceived health benefits

The Onion’s perceived health benefits   

Article published in Better Farming Magazine (link)

 It’s time for farmers to think about planting more onions, says a University of Guelph researcher who is spearheading a new method to extract the humble vegetable’s most healthful ingredient.

   Suresh Neethirajan, principal investigator in the university’s Bionanotechnology Laboratory, says his engineering team’s research shows quercetin extractions from certain onions can kill colon cancer cells.    

   Quercetin is a flavonoid, an antioxidant thought to produce an anti-inflammatory effect and to benefit immune systems. Neethirajan says the university’s extraction process uses superheated high-pressure, steam-based water technology. Other techniques leave behind chemical residues that make extractions unfit to use as food additives or in biopharmaceutical compounds.

   The university’s process doesn’t leave any harmful residues behind. The approach is ready to be taken into commercial production, he says. “We have established a proof of concept. We have a framework,” says Neethirajan.

   Jason Verkaik, who grows onions at his Carron Farms Ltd. in the Holland Marsh and is chair of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association, estimates Ontario producers grow 7,000-plus acres of onions. These vegetables supply the domestic market for most of the year and are also exported along the Eastern Seaboard. He says demand for onions has remained constant but will grow as Ontario populations with South and Southeast Asian and Middle and Far East roots grow.

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Bionanotechnology Laboratory
Suresh Neethirajan

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University of Guelph
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