Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Onion (Allium cepa L.) is potentially a good source of important antioxidants

Abstract

Six different cultivars of onions available in the Kuwaiti market were analyzed for various physic-chemical properties, such as, moisture content, sugar composition, TBARS as malondialdehyde, total phenolic content, as well as trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity, these cultivars comprised of US onions white, US onions yellow, Indian onions red, Egyptian onions red, New Zealand onions golden and Saudi onions white. Layers from each onion bulb were manually cut and separated into three nearly equal portions, i.e., outer layers, middle layers and the inner layers. The outermost layers of the bulb showed the highest concentration of antioxidant compounds and a distinct decreasing trend was observed towards the innermost layers in all types of onion samples. The onion samples studied showed variations in carbohydrate contents (glucose, fructose and sucrose), which would have important implications in affecting the flavor (sweetness and pungency) and the suitability of these onions for processing. An important observation is about the distribution of antioxidant compounds with the highest contents in the outmost layers of the onions than in their middle and inner layers. Unfortunately, these outer layers are generally discarded by the consumers thus depriving them of the important health-promoting phytochemicals.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Albishi T, John JA, Al-Khalifa AS, Shahidi F (2013) Antioxidative phenolic constituents of skins of onion varieties and their activities. J Funct Foods 5(3):1191–1203

  2. AOAC, Association of Official Analytical Chemists (2005) Official methods of analysis (18th edn.). Gaithersburg, MD, USA

  3. Arung ET, Furuta S, Ishikawa H, Kusuma IW, Shimizu K, Kondo R (2011) Anti- melanogenesis properties of quercetin- and its derivative-rich extract from Allium cepa. Food Chem 124(3):1024–1028

  4. Bang MA, Kim HA (2010) Dietary supplementation of onion inhibits diethylnitrosamine- induced hepatocellular carcinogenesis. Food Sci Biotechnol 19(1):77–82

  5. Beesk N, Perner H, Schwarz D, George E, Kroh LW, Rohn S (2010) Distribution of quercetin-3,4′-O-diglucoside, quercetin-4′-O-monoglucoside, quercetin in different parts of the onion bulb (Allium cepa L.) influenced by genotypes. Food Chem 122(3):566–571

  6. Benitez V, Molla E, Martin-Cabrejas MA, Aguilera Y, Lopez-Andreu FJ, Esteban RM (2011) Effect of sterilization on dietary fiber and physicochemical properties of onion by-products. Food Chem 127(2):501–507

  7. Chang HS, Ko M, Ishizuka M, Fujita S, Yabuki A, Alamgir HM, Yamato O (2010) Sodium-2- propenyl thiosulfate derived from garlic induces phase II detoxification enzymes in rat hepatoma H4IIE cells. Nutr Res 30(6):435–440

  8. Das NP (1990) Flavonoids in biology and medicine III—current issues in flavonoid research. Singapore University Press, Singapore, pp 213–216

  9. Dhumal K, Datir S, Pandey R (2007) Assessment of bulb pungency level in different Indian cultivars of onion (Allium cepa L.). Food Chem 100(4):1328–1330

  10. Drobiova H, Thomson M, Al-Qattan K, Shalaby RP, Al-Amin Z, Ali M (2009) Garlic increases antioxidant levels in diabetic and hypertensive rats determined by a modified peroxidase method. eCAM Evid Based Compliment Altern Med. https://doi.org/10.1093/ecam/nep011

  11. Du Z, Bramlage WJ (1992) Modified thiobarbituric acid assay for measuring lipid oxidation in sugar-rich plant tissue extracts. J Agric Food Chem 40(9):1566–1570

  12. Escribano BM, Aguera E, Aguilar-Luque M, Luque E, Feijoo M, LaTorre M, Giraldo AI, Galvin-Jurado A, Caballero-Villarraso J, Garcia-Maceira FI, Santamaria A (2018) Neuroprotective effect of S-allyl cysteine on an experimental model of multiple sclerosis: antioxidant effects. J Funct Foods 42:281–288

  13. Fossen T, Andersen OM (2003) Anthocyanins from red onions, Allium cepa, with novel aglycone. Phytochem 62:1217–1220

  14. Fossen T, Andersen OM, Ovstedal DO, Pedersen AT, Raknes A (1996) Characteristic anthocyanin pattern from onions and other Allium spp. J Food Sci 61(4):703–705

  15. Hamauzu Y, Nosaka T, Ito F, Suzuki T, Torisu S, Hashida M, Fukuzawa A, Ohguchi M, Yamanaka S (2011) Physicochemical characteristics of rapidly dried onion powder and its anti-atherogenic effect on rats fed high-fat diet. Food Chem 129(3):810–815

  16. He Q, Huang S, Wu Y, Zhang W, Wang F, Cao J, Sheng Q, Liang Z, Liu L, Ou WB (2018) Comparative study on the composition of free amino acids and derivatives in the two botanical origins of an edible Chinese herb “Xiebai”, i.e., Allium chinense G. Don and Allium macrostermon Bunge species. Food Res Int 106:446–457

  17. Hudson GJ, John PM, Bailey BS, Southgate DA (1976) The automated determination of carbohydrate. Development of a method for available carbohydrates and its application to foodstuffs. J Sci Food Agric 27:681–687

  18. Huma Z, Vian MA, Fabiano-Tixier A, Elmaataoui M, Dangles O, Chemat F (2011) A remarkable influence of microwave extraction: enhancement of antioxidant activity of extracted onion varieties. Food Chem 127(4):1472–1480

  19. Janoska B (2010) Heterocyclic amines and azaarenes in pan-fried meat and its gravy fried without additives and in the presence of onion and garlic. Food Chem 120(2):463–473

  20. Jia XY, Zhang QA, Zhang ZQ, Wang Y, Yuan JF, Wang HY, Zhao D (2011) Hepatoprotective effects of almond oil against carbon tetrachloride induced liver injury in rats. Food Chem 125(2):673–678

  21. Jimenez L, Alarcon E, Trevithick-Sutton C, Gandhi N, Scaiano JC (2011) Effect of γ- radiation on green onion DNA integrity: role of ascorbic acid and polyphenols against nucleic acid damage. Food Chem 128(3):735–741

  22. Jovanovic SV, Steenken S, Simic MG, Hara Y (1998) Antioxidant properties of flavonoids: Reduction potential and electron transfer reactions of flavanoids radicals. In: Rice-Evans C, Packer L (eds) Flavanoids in health and disease. Marcel & Dekker, New York, pp 137–161

  23. Kalra A, Sood DR, Pandey UC (1995) Studies on growth, pungency and flavor characteristics of different varieties of onions during bulb development. J Food Sci Technol 32:189–192

  24. Kandasawami C, Middleton E (1994) Free radical scavenging and antioxidant activity of plant flavonoids. Adv Exp Med Biol 366:351–376

  25. Kwak JH, Seo JM, Kim NH, Arasu MV, Kim S, Yoon MK, Kim SJ (2017) Variation of quercetin glycoside derivatives in three onion (Allium cepa L.) varieties. Saudi J Biol Sci 24:1387–1391

  26. Lee EJ, Patil BS, Yoo KS (2015) Antioxidants of 15 onions with white, yellow, and red colors and their relationship with pungency, anthocyanin, and quercetin. LWT Food Sci Technol 63(1):108–114

  27. Lee B, Seo JD, Rhee JK, Kim CY (2016) Heated apple juice supplemented with onion greatly improved nutritional quality and browning index. Food Chem 201:315–319

  28. Leopoldini M, Russo N, Toscano M (2011) The molecular basis of working mechanism of natural polyphenolic antioxidants. Food Chem 125(2):288–305

  29. Liobikas J, Skemiene K, Trumbeckaite S, Borutaite V (2016) Anthocyanins in cardioprotection: a path through mitochondria. Phamacol Res 113:808–815

  30. Ma YL, Zhu DY, Thakur K, Wang CH, Wang H, Ren YF, Zhang JG, Wei ZJ (2018) Antioxidant and antibacterial evaluation of polysaccharides sequentially extracted from onion (Allium cepa L.). Intl J Biol Macromol 111:92–101

  31. Manohar CM, Xua J, Murayyan A, Neethirajan S, Shi J (2017) Antioxidant activity of polyphenols from Ontario grown onion varieties using pressurized low polarity water technology. J Funct Foods 31:52–62

  32. Ongkowijoyo P, Luna-Vital DA, de Mejia EG (2018) Extraction techniques and analysis of anthocyanins from food sources by mass spectrophotometry: an update. Food Chem 250:113–126

  33. Ortega-Garcia JG, Montes-Belmont R, Rodriguez M, Ramirez-Trujillo JA, Suarez-Rodriguez R, Sepulveda-Jimenez G (2015) Effect of Trichoderma asperellum applications and mineral fertilization on growth promotion and the content of phenolic compounds flavonoids in onions. Sci Hortic 195:8–10

  34. Perez-Gregorio MR, Gacrcia-Falcon MS, Simal-Gandara J, Rodrigues AS, Almeida DPF (2010) Identification and quantification of flavonoids in traditional cultivars of red and white onions at harvest. J Food Comp Anal 23(6):592–598

  35. Perez-Gregorio MR, Gacrcia-Falcon MS, Simal-Gandara J (2011) Flavonoids changes in fresh- cut onions during storage in different packaging systems. Food Chem 124:652–658

  36. Petropoulos S, Fernandes A, Barros L, Ciric A, Sokovic M (2018) Antimicrobial and antioxidant properties of various Greek garlic genotypes. Food Chem 245:7–12

  37. Pradeep SR, Srinivasan K (2018) Haemato-protective influence of dietary fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum L.) seeds is potentiated by onion (Allium cepa L.) in streptozotocin- induced diabetic rats. Biomed Pharmacother 98:372–381

  38. Prakash D, Singh BN, Upadhyay G (2007) Antioxidant and free radical scavenging activities of phenols from onion (Allium cepa). Food Chem 102:1389–1393

  39. Rahman S, Khan S, Chand N, Sadique U, Khan RU (2017) In vivo effects of Allium cepa L. on the selected gut microflora and intestinal histomorphology in broilers. Acta Histochem 119:446–450

  40. Ramirez DA, Locatelli DA, Gonzalez RE, Cavagnaro PF, Camargo AB (2017) Analytical methods for bioactive sulfur compounds in Allium: an integrated review and future directions. J Food Compos Anal 61:4–19

  41. Rodrigues AS, Perez-Gregorio MR, Gacrcia-Falcon MS, Simal-Gandara J (2009) Effect of curing and cooking on flavonols and anthocyanins in traditional varieties of onion bulbs. Food Res Int 42:1331–1336

  42. Rodrigues AS, Perez-Gregorio MR, Gacrcia-Falcon MS, Simal-Gandara J, Almeida DPF (2010) Effect of post-harvest practices on flavonoid content of red and white onion cultivars. Food Control 21:878–884

  43. Rodrigues AS, Perez-Gregorio MR, Gacrcia-Falcon MS, Simal-Gandara J, Almeida DPF (2011) Effect of meteorological conditions on antioxidant flavonoids in Portuguese cultivars of white and red onions. Food Chem 124(1):303–308

  44. Schulz JB, Lindenau J, Seyfried J, Dichganz J (2000) Glutathione, oxidative stress and neurodegeneration. Eur J Biochem 267(16):4904–4911

  45. Sharma K, Mahato N, Lee YR (2017) Systematic study on active compounds as antibacterial and antibiofilm agent in aging onions. J Food Drug Anal. https://doi.org/10.1016/jfda.2017.06.009 (in press)

  46. Simon PW (1995) Genetic analysis and total soluble solids in long storage onion. Euphytica 82:1–8

  47. Singh BN, Singh BR, Singh RL, Prakash D, Singh DP, Sarma BK, Upadhyay G, Singh HB (2009) Polyphenolics from various extracts/fractions of red onion (Allium cepa) peel with potent antioxidant and antimutagenic activities. Food Chem Toxicol 47(6):1161–1167

  48. Singleton VL, Orthofer R, Lamuela-Raventos RM (1999) Analysis of total phenols and other oxidation substrates and antioxidants by means of Folin–Ciocalteau reagent. Methods Enzymol 299:152–178

  49. Tang X, Olatunji OJ, Zhou Y, Hou X (2017) Allium tuberosum: antidiabetic and hepatoprotective activities. Food Res Int 102:681–689

  50. Tasleem Jan A, Rasool Kamli M, Imitiyaz M, Bahadur SJ, Ali A, Haq QMR (2010) Dietary flavonoid quercetin and associated health benefits—an overview. Food Rev Int 26(3):302–317

  51. Tomsik A, Pavlic B, Vladic J, Cindric M, Jovanov P, Sakac M, Mandic A, Vidovic S (2017) Subcritical water extraction of wild garlic (Allium ursinum L.) and process optimization by response surface methodology. J Supercrit Fluids 128:79–88

  52. Yatoo MI, Dimri U, Gopalkrishanan A, Saxena A, Wani SA, Dhama K (2018) In vitro and in vivo immunomodulatory potential of Pedicularis longifeora and Allium carolinianum in alloxan-induced diabetes in rats. Biomed Pharmacother 97:375–384

  53. Zhang S, Deng XY, Lu S, Wang J (2016) Quantification and analysis of anthocyanin and flavonoids composition, and antioxidant activities in onions with three different colors. J Integr Agric 15(9):2175–2181

Download references

Acknowledgements

The authors thank the Kuwait University for financial support, Mr. Suleiman form Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research for carrying out the sugar analysis, Ms. JS Divya from the Biochemistry section, Biological Sciences Dept, Kuwait University, for carrying out the required chemical analyses of onion samples and for the statistical analyses of research data. Funding was provided by Kuwait University (Grant No. WF01/05).

Author information

Correspondence to Jiwan S. Sidhu.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Sidhu, J.S., Ali, M., Al-Rashdan, A. et al. Onion (Allium cepa L.) is potentially a good source of important antioxidants. J Food Sci Technol 56, 1811–1819 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13197-019-03625-9

Download citation

Keywords

  • Allium cepa
  • Antioxidant capacity
  • Total phenolics
  • Sugars
  • Free radical scavenging activity