Ever notice that garlic and onions are in just about everything? There’s a nutritional reason for that


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Photo: Getty Images/ psphotograph

When it comes to savory dishes, you’ll be hard up to find a recipe that doesn’t call for garlic and onions. Seasonings have salt and pepper; vegetables have garlic and onion. The duo works in virtually any dish to punch up the flavor. You don’t need to be a Cooking Channel devotee to know that if something tastes bland, it’s because it needs more garlic and onions.

But as it turns out, the reason why garlic and onions are in seemingly everything isn’t just about taste. One study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found that alliums—bulbous plants such as chives, leeks, and yes garlic and onions—enhanced the bioavailability of zinc and iron in foods.

Want to learn even more about garlic’s health benefits? Here’s the lowdown:



The researchers found that when alliums were added to foods made with grains or pulses, they helped make the two nutrients more readily available in the body. Zinc is an important nutrient for keeping the immune system functioning and iron is essential for the production of hemoglobin in blood, which transfers oxygen from the lungs to the tissues. So ensuring they are bioavailable is a pretty big deal.

Want to reap the benefits in a big way? Try one of the recipes below, all of which are bursting with garlic and onions

salmon corn chowder
Photo: Hummusapien

1. Healthy salmon corn chowder

This twist on a classic corn chowder is a Mediterranean diet win. Besides garlic and onions, it’s full of other antioxidant-rich veggies, and the salmon is loaded with protein and healthy fats. Oh, and it’s dairy-free, too.

minestrone soup
Photo: The Iron You

2. Light Italian minestrone soup

Another healthy soup that puts garlic and onions front and center is this minestrone soup. It also has leeks, another allium, so you know that your nutrients are really going to be really bioavailable with this veggie-filled meal.

creamy pesto
Photo: Marie Reginato

3. Creamy pesto and roasted veggies

This recipe combines an onion- and garlic-based pesto sauce with root veggies and quinoa. We know from the scientific study that the pairing will make the nutrients in the grain more readily available in the body—so be liberal with the amount you use to top off your dish.

The Well+Good Cookbook is full of more healthy recipes. Or, join Well+Good’s Cook With Us Facebook group for more ideas.

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