A shallot is a type of onion from the species Allium cepa and belongs to the Amaryllidaceae plant family. Similar to its relatives, garlic and onion, shallots contain active compounds that make it valuable for treating several ailments. Shallots health benefits are many.
Shallots have a sweet and pungent flavor, and they are loaded with antioxidants like vitamins A and C, and other key minerals. In Ayurveda medicine, shallots are an important medicinal plant. In fact, according to the ancient holistic tradition, shallots and other onions have a natural “cooling” effect on the body, which helps reduce muscle aches, inflammation, water-retention, and swelling.
Today, the plant’s antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties are of great interest to the medical community. Various clinical studies have shown shallots’ potential in natural cancer treatment, detoxifying the body, reducing food allergies, improving heart health and circulation, controlling blood sugar levels, and maintaining strong bones.
Shallots Nutrition Facts
What shallot nutrition facts do you need to know? For starters, a half-cup (about 100 grams) of shallots contains about 16.8 grams of carbohydrates, 2.5 grams of protein, and 5 grams of fiber. From a micronutrient perspective, shallots are loaded with vitamin A, manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium, folate, and iron. Shallots also contain small amounts of vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B5, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and selenium.
The following is a comprehensive shallot nutrition chart on the vegetable.
|Shallots, Raw 100 g|
* Source: SELF Nutrition Data
Shallots Health Benefits
What are the health benefits of shallots? Researchers believe shallots contain more phenol and flavonoid antioxidants than most onion family members. The healing properties of shallots contain two set of compounds: flavonoids like quercetin, and sulfur compounds like allyl propyl disulphide (APDS). Shallots and onions hold protective sulfur-containing compounds in the form of cysteine derivatives called cysteine sulfoxides, which decompose when eaten due to an interaction with digestive enzymes.
The majority of sulfoxides are found in the oils of shallots. Studies have found that onions like the shallot display antifungal activity against fungi such as candida. The natural antibacterial activities of shallots may also help fight potentially deadly forms of bacteria. Furthermore, shallots are thought to help remove toxins and carcinogens from the digestive tract due to their circulation-boosting abilities.
The following are five shallots health benefits explained in detail.
1. May Fight Cancer
A study published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention in 2012 found that ethyl acetate extracts found in shallots and other onions have positive inhibitory effect on animal fatty acid synthase (FAS) to help slow the growth of cancerous cells. Allium vegetables like shallots may be beneficial for fighting many of the most common cancers like colon, stomach, and breast cancers.
2. May Improve Heart Health and Circulation
The antioxidants and minerals in shallots like allicin and potassium have been noted for their anti-hypertensive abilities. Allicin, which is released when the vegetable is cut, may help protect the cardiovascular system through its anti-oxidant properties, which include stimulating glutathione production and reducing the level of reactive oxygen species. Allicin compounds may also block a reductase enzyme produced in the liver that controls cholesterol production. The potassium in shallots can also improve circulation and dilate blood vessels, so these onions may also help lower high blood pressure.
3. May Control Blood Sugar and Weight
Research has also revealed that the ethyl acetate extracts in shallots can suppress fat accumulation to potentially prevent weight gain and obesity-related complications like diabetes and heart disease. A shallot may also benefit insulin and blood sugar levels as a natural diabetic remedy. Clinical studies show that onions may lower blood sugar levels in diabetics possibly from blocking the breakdown of insulin in the liver.
4. May Help Treat and Prevent Allergies
Numerous studies have found that shallots have anti-allergic effects due to their anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-histaminic properties. A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2009 found that onions and shallots are effective for impacting events that lead to allergic reactions. For the study, when shallot extract was given to mice, they experienced reduced histamine release and other benefits related to common allergy symptoms.
5. May Help Maintain Bone Health
In a large analysis published in the journal Menopause in 2004, researchers observed the effects of onion consumption on bone density in pre- and post-menopausal adult women. For the study, women were divided into groups of those who consumed onions less than once monthly, twice monthly to twice weekly, three to six times weekly, and once daily or more. The study found that women who consumed onions daily had an overall bone density greater than 5 percent over individuals who consumed onions once monthly or less.
How to Use Shallots
Shallots sold around the world will vary in skin color from a pale red to gray and light brown. The shallot will also have an off-white flesh with dark pink or green lines. The summer months are the peak season for shallots; however, you will still find them in grocery stores throughout the year.
Any dish that calls for red, white, or yellow onions can use shallots as a substitute. Shallots also pair with garlic, and they make a great addition to stir-fries, sautés, soups, salads, salsas, guacamole, and casseroles. Olive oil, thyme, balsamic vinegar, and rosemary also go well with a shallot dish. Here’s a flavorful shallot recipe to get you started using the vegetable in the kitchen.
1. Roasted Hash Potatoes with Shallots
- 3 1/2 cups sweet potatoes
- 3 cups fingerling potatoes
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoons dried Italian spices like oregano, basil, thyme
- 1/4 cup chopped shallots
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon coarse grey sea salt
- 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
- 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 425 F, and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the potatoes in a large bowl. Toss with the oil, and sprinkle on the Italian spices, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and shallots. Stir, and combine well.
- Spoon the potatoes onto the baking sheet, and spread them into an even layer. Make sure there is no overlap. Roast the potatoes for 15 minutes, flip, and roast for 10 to 20 minutes. They should be tender to a fork and lightly charred on the bottoms. Serve immediately, and toss with chopped cherry tomatoes and green onions.
The above nutrition facts and shallots health benefits make it easy to understand why they are a valuable addition to many healing diets. Just make sure they are the right vegetable for you.
Shallots and other onions don’t produce side effects in most, but they may cause digestive issues or interactions with certain drugs such as diabetes and blood-clotting medications. High intakes of shallots may also worsen existing acid reflux or heartburn problems.
A small amount of people also experience allergies to onions, including those with skin rashes; asthma; and red, itchy eyes.
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Wang, Y., et al., “Inhibitory effects of onion (Allium cepa L.) extract on proliferation of cancer cells and adipocytes via inhibiting fatty acid synthase,” Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, 2012; 13(11): 5573-5579. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23317220.
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