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What Are the Health Benefits of Shallots?

By Karen Curinga

Shallots are petite members of the Allium plant family, which includes onions, garlic and chives. These mild-flavored ornamental vegetables are not only a favorite of chefs globally, but they've been valued for centuries because of their health and healing properties. Shallots' nutritional health benefits make them a welcome addition to any meal plan.

Diet Friendly

Shallots provide health benefits for people who are watching their weight and saturated-fat intake. A 100-gram serving, which is 3.5-ounces, of raw shallots contains only 72 calories, 0.10 grams of total fat, which includes only 0.017 grams of saturated fat. Each serving also offers the benefit of 3.2 grams of fiber, which is approximately 13 percent of the daily value set by the FDA, 2.5 grams of protein and 16.80 grams of carbohydrate.

Reduced Cancer Risk

Diets high in allium vegetables like shallots are linked to a reduced rate in overall cancers, according to the University of California. These vegetables contain flavonoids, which are also known as bioflavonoids, which are plant pigments that protect your cells from damage due to their powerful antioxidant properties. In addition, a perspective published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in September of 2001 states that substances known as organosulfur compounds, which are found in allium vegetables, are reported to protect against stomach and colorectal cancers and may help protect against breast cancer.

Brain Function and Cell Development

Shallots contain 34 micrograms of folate, which is just shy of 10 percent of the DV. Folate, also known as folic acid, is one of eight B vitamins. It is essential for brain function and contributes to mental and emotional health. Folate also plays a role in cell development and in the production of your body's DNA and RNA. It protects against brain and spine birth defects when taken early in pregnancy.

Supports Body Functions

Shallots also contain the healthful mineral potassium, which supports many of your body's functions. Each 3.5-ounce serving of raw shallots contains 334 milligrams of potassium, which is 10 percent of the daily values set by the FDA. Potassium helps your body maintain a steady heartbeat and fluid balance. It plays an important role in activation enzymes in carbohydrate and protein metabolism. It's also essential to proper nerve cell firing, muscle contraction and kidney function.

Safety Considerations

Although certain sulfur compounds in shallots provide health benefits, sulfur compounds in raw shallots, as in raw onions, may cause eye and mucous membrane irritation during chopping or slicing. These sulfur compounds go through a series of chemical changes during the cutting process that can cause your eyes to water. You can reduce the sulfur compound effects by soaking trimmed bulbs in cold water for a few minutes before chopping.

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