Scallions, also known as spring onions, belong to the Allium family of root vegetables that include additional flavorful members like onions, shallots, leeks and garlic to mention a few. Allium vegetables are termed as such due to a powerful healing substance found in them called allicin. They are essentially onions that are harvested prematurely in their growth stage before the distinguishing bulbs begin to form. This crop is long and straight with edible leaves and a spicy flavor. The root and bottom of the stalk is white with an obvious gradient that leads to a brilliant emerald green color. Many of the health benefits found in the scallion are the same ones found in their mature onion or garlic cousins because they are all part of the Allium family. While the scallion is a popular ingredient in Asian cuisine, this produce offers added flavor to any meal. Scallions can be eaten on their own; however, it is more universal to eat them as an ingredient of a larger recipe including soups and salads or sprinkled as garnish on top of the dish. Not only do scallions add flavor to these dishes, they offer a wide range of health benefits too!
Health Benefits Include Vitamins, Minerals and Antioxidants
Scallions are low in calories and fat free while providing a bit of fiber. This fine herb contains folate, calcium, iron and vitamins A, C, K and some B-6. Vitamin B-6 is needed by many enzymes in the body to activate the metabolism of proteins carbohydrates and fats. B-6 also assists the body to produce neurotransmitters that are involved in sleep and mood disposition. Vitamin K is the most plentiful vitamin found in scallions and coupled with allicin, it is crucial for proper blood clotting and maintenance of the density and strength of your bones. The vitamin A found in scallions exists in the form of cartenoids, which are accountable for the plant’s green color. Beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin are all cartenoids found in scallions. Your body converts beta carotene into retinol which is the vitamin A that contributes to vision and healthy skin. Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants that will neutralize free radicals in the retina. Quercetin, the most famous antioxidant found in all onions offers anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine benefits lowering the risk of heart disease and easing the symptoms of allergy. Scallions are also a rich source of vitamin C, manganese, potassium, copper, and contain a small amount of vitamin E. While these elements are not competent in curing disease on their own, they do aid the body in building up its own immunity and activate its ability to fend off disease causing effects of diet and lifestyle. Thus, including these nutrients in your diet is fundamentally integral to overall health and well being.
Lowers Blood Sugar, Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol and Inflammation
The zesty scallion has been shown to help lower blood sugar, high cholesterol, blood pressure, and inflammation. As mentioned above, the Quercetin is responsible for its anti-inflammatory action while the allicin keeps the platelets from clumping together to form a clot.
Contains Essential fatty acids
This green powerhouse surprisingly contains small amounts of essential fatty acids including both omega 3’s and omega-6. Both these essential fatty acids play a critical role in maintaining normal growth and development, including that of the brain. They are also important components of all cell membranes in the body. The two classes of EFA’s are metabolically and functionally separate and have important opposing physiological functions. The omega-6 and omega-3 are used to synthesize eicosanoids in the body. According to Wikipedia, these are signaling molecules that exert complex control over many bodily systems, mainly in inflammation and immunity and as messengers of the central nervous system. The amount and balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fats in a person’s diet will have an effect on the body’s eicosanoid controlled functions with effects on cardiovascular disease, triglycerides, blood pressure and arthritis. Therefore it’s safe to deduce that EFA’s are important in maintaining optimum health. With one serving of Scallions containing approximately 4 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids and 70 mg of omega-6 fatty acids, why not top your salads with some?
Contains Antiviral Properties
The powerful phytonutrient contained in scallions called allicin is what gives it its anti-viral properties and makes it useful in fighting off colds and flu viruses. When I was sick several weeks ago with the flu, I used loads of organic scallions in my homeopathic tonic, added fresh squeezed organic lemon juice, organic garlic, organic tomato, some organically grown cilantro and bottoms up! It’s important to use organic ingredients to maximize the nutrient potency and lessen the toxic burdens on the body. This natural stimulant taken several times a day helped me to a speedy recovery.
Menstrual pain or dysmenorrhea, are sharp pains that occur in a women’s lower abdomen when her menstrual period starts. These pains can range from mild to very severe and can last for up to three days. I must admit that I am a menstrual cramp sufferer. I am also not the type of consumer who will dash to the pharmacy or take aspirin to ease my discomfort. I depend highly on Mike Adams Natural News healing food reference library to discover foods that can facilitate feeling better under various circumstances. It was on that site that I learned about the effects that scallions have on menstrual cramps, but I was not able to appreciate why until I researched it a bit more. When referring to Chinese medicine, a widespread concept is that menstrual cramps occur when the woman’s body is too “cold”. In this case, one must attempt to avoid foods that are universally thought of as “cooling”. This includes most types of melon, such as watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe, and cucumbers. A short list to avoid according to Chinese medicine during menstrual cramps includes apples, pears, oranges, mangoes, celery, strawberries, eggplant, spinach, cauliflower, tofu, mint, kiwi, tomatoes, and crab meat. On the contrary, one ought to eat a quantity of foods that are thought of as “heating” to balance it out. Heating foods include scallions, onions, and garlic. Other foods in this category are cherries, peaches, cinnamon, ginger, brown sugar, nutmeg, and most sorts of meat.
How to Incorporate Scallions into Your Diet
Because I love organic food and pursue an eco friendly lifestyle, I suggest using certified organic ingredients in all of your food recipes when available to maximize flavors and nutrition while minimizing your risk of exposure to pesticides, chemicals and preservatives.
Recipes from Mimi’s Organic Corner
Add to soups salads and stir fries for a burst of flavor with little calories. Go ahead and chop them up for your favorite dishes.
Veggie Dip can be made by dicing scallions into tiny pieces and stir them into plain yogurt with other spices to make a delicious dip for your veggies.
Try Green Harissa, normally made with hot chilies and served with couscous, this aromatic herb based spin is great with roasted veggies or as a rub for fish. Combine cumin seeds, coriander seeds, jalapenos, (seeded and sliced), sliced scallions, garlic clove, olive oil, flat leaf parsley leaves, cilantro, and some lemon juice with fine sea salt. Now spread it over your fish. Delicious!
Oven Roasted flounder with bok choy, scallions, cilantro and lime is a light dinner for any day of the week. Sautee chopped scallion, cilantro and sliced bok choy with lime juice, soy sauce, rice vinegar, minced ginger, olive oil, pepper and dry white wine. Drizzle over flounder in a baking dish and cook on 375 for a short while. Yum!
Try scallion pesto by combining chopped scallions, chopped almonds, garlic cloves, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice salt pepper. Once mixed, drizzle over your favorite organic linguini. It’s easy to make, is inexpensive and offers a punch of flavor.