Shallot Health Benefits and Cancer Prevention Properties

Shallot is a type of onion but with a garlic shape, and a flavor more subtle than common onion. Though there are several varieties, all of them are good for your health. However, when it comes to use it to fight cancer, it is best to be eaten raw to fully benefit from its virtues.

In addition to its wealth of important nutrients, Shallot fights germs, protects bones, helps digestion, regulates healthy bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract digestive tract) in general, fights against cholesterol, and prevents digestive cancers. It is therefore beneficial for cancer patients to consume raw shallot regularly, as long as it is not contraindicated by their health care provider.

Shallot and Cancer

Studies have shown that sulfur compounds of allium, including shallots, could prevent cancers of the digestive system “by opposing tumor progression”. The researchers believe not only the vegetable can help prevent the development of cancers but also stop the reproduction of cancerous cells in individuals already diagnosed with cancer. However, the fact the effects of the specific compounds in shallots were not the particular evaluation of the study, further work is required before the scientists can confirm their findings…

Antimicrobial Effect

Shallot extracts, like extracts of garlic and onion, demonstrated an antimicrobial effect in vitro against fungi and bacteria. Researchers have isolated in the shallot, a specific peptide which would be partly responsible for its antifungal action. Other proteins or peptides could also contribute to this effect, but this remains to be verified. In addition, human studies should be carried out before concluding antimicrobial effect associated with the consumption of shallots.

Shallot Health Benefits and Nutrients

Beta Carotene. Shallots also contain significant amounts of beta carotene, a compound of the carotenoid family. In comparison, 125 ml (1/2 cup) of shallot contains 600 ug of beta carotene, while the red pepper and cantaloupe, known for their high content of beta-carotene, contain two and three respectively times. The carotenoid family possesses antioxidant properties.

Antioxidants. Antioxidants are compounds that protect the cells of the body from damage caused by free radicals, highly reactive molecules that are involved in the development of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and other diseases related to aging. According to the results of an in vitro study, shallot extracts showed antioxidant activity similar to that of garlic extracts. In other studies, antioxidant activity of shallot was superior to that of different varieties of onions and cabbage. This high antioxidant activity is attributed to flavonoids in shallots. The shallot is ranked fourth for its content in flavonoids, including ten varieties of onions.

Sulfur Compounds. Shallots contain some sulfur compounds but less well known than those in other alliums such as garlic. The protective effect of alliums against certain cancers – mainly those of the digestive system – appears to be related to their content of sulfur compounds. Besides, these are the substances that give them their characteristic taste. Until now, the effects of sulfur compounds found in shallots have not been specifically evaluated; therefore more studies are needed.

Other Important Nutrients 

Vitamin B6. Shallot is a good source of vitamin B6. Also called pyridoxine, B6 is part of coenzyme involved in the metabolism of proteins and fatty acids and the production of neurotransmitters: messengers in the nerve impulse. It also contributes to the production of red blood cells and allows them to carry more oxygen. Pyridoxine is also necessary for the transformation of glycogen into glucose and contributes to the proper functioning of the immune system. In addition, vitamin B6 plays a role in the formation of certain components of nerve cells.

Phosphorus. Raw shallot is a good source of phosphorus, the second most abundant mineral in the body after calcium. It plays a vital role in the formation and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. In addition, it participates among others in the growth and regeneration of tissue and helps maintain normal blood pH. Finally, phosphorus is one of the constituents of cellular membranes.

Magnesium. Shallots are a source of magnesium, mostly only for women; men need are higher dosage. Magnesium is involved in bone development, construction of proteins, enzyme action, muscle contraction, dental health and functioning of the immune system. It also plays a role in energy metabolism and in the transmission of nerve impulses.

Potassium. Shallots also contain potassium, which is used in the body to balance the PH of the blood and stimulate the production of hydrochloric acid by the stomach, thus promoting digestion. In addition, it facilitates the contraction of muscles, including the heart, and is involved in the transmission of nerve impulses.

Iron. Each cell in the body contains iron. This mineral is essential for transporting oxygen and the formation of red blood cells. It also plays a role in the production of new cells, hormones and neurotransmitters. However, the iron in plant foods (like shallots) is less well absorbed by the body than iron from animal foods, some nutritionist believe. Iron absorption plant is however favored when used with certain nutrients, such as vitamin C.

Manganese. Manganese acts as a cofactor of several enzymes that facilitate a dozen different metabolic processes. It also helps prevent damage caused to the body by free radicals. Shallot is a source of manganese

Copper. As a component of several enzymes, copper is necessary for the formation of hemoglobin and collagen, a protein that plays a major role in the structure and repair of tissue. Several copper-containing enzymes also contribute to the body’s defense against free radicals. Raw or light cooked shallots can be a good source of copper.

Folate. Also known as vitamin B9, Folate is involved in the manufacture of all body cells, including red blood cells. This vitamin plays an essential role in the production of genetic material (DNA, RNA), in the functioning of the nervous system and immune system, as well as in the healing of wounds and sores. As it is necessary for the production of new cells, an adequate intake is essential during periods of growth and development of the fetus. Shallow is rich in folate.

Vitamin C.  The role of vitamin C in the body goes beyond its antioxidant properties; it also contributes to healthy bones, cartilage, teeth and gums. In addition, it protects against infections, promotes the absorption of iron from plants and accelerates healing. Shallot is a source of vitamin C.

Vitamin A. Eating shallot regularly can provide to your body vitamin A as beta-carotene. Vitamin A is one of the most versatile vitamins, playing a role in many body functions. It collaborates, among others, to the growth of bones and teeth. It keeps the skin healthy and beautiful, in addition to protect against infection. Vitamin A has antioxidant properties and promotes good vision, especially in the dark.


Allium vegetables and reduced risk of stomach cancer, J Natl Cancer Inst, 1989 January 18;81(2):162-4.

Protective effect of allium vegetables against both esophageal and stomach cancer…, Jpn J Cancer Res 1999 June;90(6):614-21

Allium vegetables in cancer prevention : an overview, Asian Pac J Cancer Prev 2004 July;5(3):237-45

Leave a Reply