Frequently used as a garnish to throw in a bit of color to a dish, scallions are often overlooked and overshadowed by other ingredients.
Believe it or not, though, this vegetable has a whole lot more to offer than some added color. In fact, scallions are low in calories, rich in nutrients and boast some serious health benefits, from enhancing immunity to shrinking fat cells.
Convenient, easy to use and incredibly versatile, including a few servings of scallions in your diet can do so much more than simply brighten up your plate.
What Are Scallions?
Scallions go by many names, including spring onion, green onion, Welsh onion and Allium fistulosum. They are cultivated and used around the globe but are actually native to China.
As a member of the Allium family of plants, scallions are a close relative of garlic, onions, leeks, shallots and chives and share many of the same health-promoting compounds.
Scallions have long green stems with a thin white bulb. They are harvested early, before the bulb is able to swell and expand, which sets them apart from other members of the same plant family.
Both parts of the green onion are edible and can be used in cooking. The green tops have a mild, onion-like flavor while the white base is slightly more intense in its taste.
Although scallions are enjoyed around the world in many unique dishes, they are considered a staple in a handful of Asian cuisines and are frequently found as a star ingredient in Chinese, Japanese and Korean foods.
Benefits of Scallions
1. Aid in Weight Loss
Scallions are low in calories but nutrient-dense foods, making them an excellent addition to your diet if you’re looking to shed a few pounds. They also contain a good chunk of fiber, providing you with up to 10 percent of your daily fiber needs for just 32 calories. Fiber can help promote weight loss by keeping you feeling full and reducing hunger.
In addition to helping cut calories and increase fiber, some studies have found that scallions may also alter the expression of certain genes that are involved in obesity. A 2011 animal study conducted by the Center of Herbal Resources Research at the Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine fed mice scallion extract for 6.5 weeks and found that it reduced body weight and shrunk fat cells. It also increased levels of a specific protein that aids in the breakdown of fat.
In another Korean animal study, an herbal supplement containing a mix of scallion and violet extract was given to obese mice, which caused a decrease in both body weight and fat cell size
Including scallions in your diet along with plenty of other low-calorie foods like fruits and vegetables is one easy method to help keep your waistline under control.
2. Help Blood Clotting
Scallions are practically bursting with vitamin K. In fact, just a half cup can meet and exceed your vitamin K requirement for the entire day. Vitamin K is a necessary nutrient for many aspects of health, but its critical role in blood clotting stands out in particular.
Blood clotting is important to prevent excessive bleeding as a result of injury. It allows your platelets and plasma, two components of your blood, to form a clot when you’re injured, which can help you avoid further blood loss. A deficiency in vitamin K can cause symptoms like easy bruising and bleeding, typically from the gums or the nose.
3. Boost Immunity
Some research has found that scallions can help jump-start your immune system to prevent illness and infection. This happens primarily by altering the levels of specific cells in the immune system that work to ward off disease and fight foreign invaders in the body.
Scallions also pack a concentrated dose of vitamin C into each serving. Antioxidant-packed vitamin C foods like scallions have been shown to enhance immune function and prevent infection.
4. Enhance Heart Health
Heart disease is a major health problem worldwide and the leading cause of death in the United States.Certain foods, like scallions, have actually been shown to help promote heart heath. In the 2011 animal study conducted by the Center of Herbal Resources Research at the Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine mentioned above, scallion extract was able to significantly decrease several heart disease risk factors like total cholesterol, triglycerides and bad LDL cholesterol.
Additionally, scallions are loaded with vitamin K, which may help protect your heart. Vitamin K prevents the stiffening of the arteries by blocking the formation of calcium deposits on the walls of the arteries.
5. Improve Bone Health
In addition to preventing heart disease and improving blood clotting, the vitamin K found in scallions may also help strengthen your bones. Vitamin K improves bone heath by increasing the production of a certain protein needed to maintain bone calcium and increase bone density. (10)
A study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Researchsupplemented 241 patients with osteoporosis using vitamin K, which lowered the risk of fractures for participants and helped them maintain their bone density.
The vitamin K in scallions may work in combination with calcium and vitamin D, so be sure to get some sunlight each day and include plenty of calcium-rich foods in your diet to boost your bone health even more.
6. May Block Cancer Growth
One of the most impressive benefits of scallions is that they contain compounds that may help reduce the growth of certain types of cancer. In a 2012 animal study, mice with colon cancer were fed scallion extract. This was found to suppress the growth of tumors, lower inflammation and increase the survival rate of the mice.
Scallions also contain a compound called allicin, which is well-known for its cancer-fighting abilities. In one study out of China, treating stomach cancer cells with allicin simultaneously stopped the growth of cancer and helped killed off cancer cells.
Scallions are low in calories but contain a good amount of vitamin K, dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A and folate.
One cup (100 grams) of chopped scallions contains approximately: (16)
- 32 calories
- 7.3 grams carbohydrates
- 1.8 grams protein
- 0.2 gram fat
- 2.6 grams fiber
- 207 micrograms vitamin K (259 percent DV)
- 18.8 milligrams vitamin C (31 percent DV)
- 997 IU vitamin A (20 percent DV)
- 64 micrograms folate (16 percent DV)
- 1.5 milligrams iron (8 percent DV)
- 276 milligrams potassium (8 percent DV)
- 0.2 milligram manganese (8 percent DV)
- 72 milligrams calcium (7 percent DV)
- 0.1 milligram riboflavin (5 percent DV)
- 20 milligrams magnesium (5 percent DV)
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