As fall and wintry weather descends upon us, researchers from Clemson University and the University of South Carolina have a simple solution to deal with the oncoming flu season: Onions!
Onions are rich in quercetin, a compound that boosts the immune system and may protect against influenza. Quercetin belongs to a class of water-soluble plant pigments called flavonoids, and in tests on animals it appears that the substance negates susceptibility to flu, countering the effects of physical stress that greatly increase the odds of becoming ill.
This recent research is an extension of programs that found last year that the flavonoid in quercetin could reduce the occurrence of illnesses for those who exercise extensively. It now appears that this may be applicable to all forms of physical stress. It is also thought that the compound could reduce blood tension in individuals with hypertension.
"Quercetin was used because of its documented widespread health benefits, which include antiviral activity, abundance in the diet and reported lack of side effects when used as a dietary supplement or food additive," said lead researcher Mark Davis.
So, if you're running about a lot, in an organized fashion or not, quercetin may be your best friend this fall. Further research is going ahead to see how quercetin may be optimized for health care. For the time being, adding onions to your diet is a grand idea. (And if onions aren't your thing, quercetin can be found in smaller amounts in apples, green tea, black tea, leafy green vegetables and beans.)
For more on this study have a look at the links below:
American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology:
Quercetin reduces susceptibility to influenza infection following stressful exercise
NutraUSA: Apples and Onions