Shallots might not be a common ingredient in your kitchen, but they can add a unique flavor to any dish! Not only that, but they have numerous health benefits as well. 

Read on to find out more about shallots and the many health benefits that make them worth adding to your regular diet.

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What Are Shallots?

Shallots (Allium ascalonicum) are part of the Allium family, which also includes onions, garlic, leeks, and chives. Shallots are native to Asia, where they have been cultivated for centuries. They were introduced to Europe in the Middle Ages and brought to the Americas by early settlers.

Shallots have a milder, more delicate flavor than onions, and unlike onions, shallots have a sweeter taste and are less pungent.

You can use them in much the same way as onions, but because of their milder flavor, they are often used in salads and other dishes where a more subtle onion flavor is desired.

Shallots are a good source of fiber, which is important for digestive health. They also contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which can help to protect cells from damage. 

Eating shallots can help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Shallots also contain compounds that may help to prevent cancer. 

Besides adding them to salads, shallots can be added to salads, soups, stews, and other dishes. Shallots can also be roasted or used as a garnish.

 When buying shallots, look for ones that are firm and have no brown spots. Always store your shallots in a cool, dark place

shallots health benefits, fresh shallots on beige background

Types of Shallot

Brown shallot

Also known as English or Dutchshallots, brown shallots are the most popular type and can be found at most grocery stores. 

They are small with a light brown skin and a milder flavor than other types of shallots.

Asian shallots

These are the smallest and most delicate of the shallots, typically used in Asian cuisine. They have a deep purple color with a fruity, floral taste.

French gray shallot

Also known as griselles, French grey shallots are considered the true shallots and are highly sort after. They are smaller and more elongated, with thick rough skin that makes them difficult to clean.

Pink shallot

These are also known as “false shallots” or “Jersey shallots.” They have pinkish-orange skin with white-light purple flesh. In terms of taste, they have a more pungent flavor than other varieties.

Banana shallot

Also known as echalion, they are the largest of all. Banana shallots are not pure but a cross between a shallot and an onion. They are smooth with tan-colored skin that’s easy to peel. Their flavor is something between an onion and garlic but still subtle with some sweet notes.

Health Benefits

1. High in antioxidants

Antioxidants are molecules that can neutralize free radicals, which are unstable particles that can damage cells in the body. 

Free radicals are created when the body breaks down food or from pollutants like smoke, radiation, and other toxins. 

Antioxidants work to scavenge free radicals before they can cause damage.

One compound found in shallot that has antioxidant activity is quercetin. Quercetin is a flavonoid found in many plant-based foods, such as apples, onions, and grapes. 

Kaempferol is another antioxidant found in shallots. It helps protect cell membranes from damage and has anti-inflammatory properties. 

Allicin is also found in shallots and it has antibacterial and antifungal properties and has been shown to have antioxidant effects.

In one study, six allium vegetables were evaluated for their ability to scavenge free radicals and protect cells against oxidative damage. The results showed that all six vegetable samples inhibited the formation of reactive oxygen species, indicating their strong antioxidant properties.

However, shallots had the second-highest strength after chives. 

In addition, these compounds have been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

2. Lowers blood pressure

The amino acid allicin has been shown to have blood pressure-lowering effects in a number of studies. When allicin is added to rat blood, it increases the activity of nitric oxide synthase, which is responsible for the production of nitric oxide. 

Nitric oxide is a molecule that helps regulate blood pressure by dilating and relaxing blood vessels. This promotes good circulation and lowered blood pressure.

Allicin also reduces the formation of thromboxane A2, a compound that can cause blood clots, which helps promote cardiovascular health.

In human trials, allicin has been found to be as effective as some anti-hypertensive medications in reducing blood pressure. The most common side effects associated with allicin therapy are gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea and nausea.

3. Lowers cholesterol

According to a study published in Nutrition, researchers at the University of Scranton found that consuming shallot can lower cholesterol levels. The study participants were divided into two groups, and one group was given a diet that included shallot as part of their daily food intake. The other group received a placebo diet. After four weeks, the researchers found that the group who ate Shallots had lowered cholesterol levels by 9%.

Scientists believe that this is because of the chemical allicin, which is found in Shallots. Allicin has been shown to reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol in the body. Therefore, by eating Shallots regularly, it may be possible to improve your overall health and cholesterol levels.

4. May prevent or treat allergies

There is some evidence that shallots can help prevent or treat allergies. One study found that people who ate a lot of shallot had a lower incidence of asthmatic episodes compared to those who didn’t eat them. Another study found that eating shallot could help improve the symptoms of allergic rhinitis, an inflammation of the nasal passages that commonly occurs in people with allergies. 

Shallot may also reduce the number and severity of sneezing episodes in people with allergies.

This is due to the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antiviral properties of shallots.

5. May help fight obesity

Shallot is rich in quercetin, a natural antioxidant found in many fruits and vegetables. It has been shown to help promote weight loss by increasing the rate at which calories are burned. 

In addition, quercetin has been shown to reduce the amount of fat stored in the body.

In a study published in the journal “Nutrition & Metabolism,” researchers found that quercetin supplementation led to a decrease in calorie intake and an increase in energy expenditure. The study participants also experienced reductions in body fat and waist circumference.

6. Strengthens bones

Shallots are a good source of vitamin C, which promotes bone health.

Vitamin C is essential for the production of collagen, which is a protein that maintains bone strength.

Additionally, vitamin C can help improve the absorption of other minerals and nutrients important for bone health.

7. Have antiviral and antibacterial benefits

Shallot is a member of the onion family and are known for their antiviral and antibacterial benefits. They contain sulfur-containing compounds, which can inhibit the growth of some viruses and bacteria. 

Some studies have shown that shallot can reduce the severity of symptoms in patients with colds and influenza. Additionally, shallots have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce pain and inflammation associated with various infections.

8. Promotes detoxification

Detoxification is an important process that helps rid the body of toxins. The onion family, including shallot, contains sulfur compounds that can promote detoxification. These compounds help to break down harmful molecules in the body and remove toxins. 

Allicin, for example, has been shown to break down harmful substances and reduce inflammation, promote white blood cell production, and promotes the breakdown of toxins. Together, these properties make allicin a valuable tool for promoting detoxification and overall health.

9. Can control blood sugar levels

Shallot is a type of onion that is high in sulfur-containing chemicals. 

One study found that shallot improved insulin resistance in rats. Shallot contains compounds called thiosulfinates, which improve the function of insulin receptors in the cells. 

This helps reduce the risk of developing diabetes and other diseases related to insulin resistance. 

How to Chop a Shallot

  • To chop your shallot, start by first peeling them
  • Cut off the root end and the stem, cut the shallot in half from the root end to the top, then slice it crosswise into thin pieces. 
  • To make finely chopped shallots, stack the sliced shallots, then cut the strips into small pieces.

Shallot Recipes

There are many ways to enjoy shallot, from simmered in a simple broth or sauce, to fried and served with a dipping sauce, to roasted and served as a side dish. 

Here are five recipes that will show you just how versatile these sweet onions can be: 

1. Sautéed shallots with garlic

The shallot and garlic pair well together, creating a delicious and savory dish. A shallot has a nice touch of sweetness, while the garlic provides a strong flavor that will perfectly complement any flavors you may add to the dish.

Sautée shallot in olive oil and garlic until they are nicely browned and almost tender. They make a great side dish or appetizer and can be served with anything from rice to pasta to salad. 

2. Roasted shallots with thyme

Roasted shallot is a simple and delicious way to add a touch of elegance to any meal. The sweet, mild taste of the shallots pairs well with the earthy flavor of thyme and makes for a perfect side dish or appetizer.

Roasting shallots brings out their natural sweetness and flavor. Simply top your shallots with fresh thyme before baking. 

3. Fried Shallot

Fried shallot is simple to make and are a great way to add some extra flavor to your meal. Simply heat some oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the shallots. Fry until they are browned, and then remove them from the skillet using a slotted spoon. Serve hot with your favorite dish.

4. Grilled shallot

Grilled shallots are a simple, yet delicious way to add some flavor to your food. They can be grilled or baked, and can be used in a variety of dishes.

To grill shallot, preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Cut the shallots into thick slices and place them on the grill. Grill for about 5 minutes per side, or until they are golden brown and crispy.

When grilling shallots, be sure to mix them in with other vegetables. Try grilled tomatoes, zucchini, and mushrooms as a trio, or combine them with grilled eggplant and grilled red onions for an easy summer meal.

You can even include tofu as a protein source.

5. Mincing them and adding them to sauces or dressings

Adding minced shallots to sauces and dressings is a great way to eat them. They can be used in a variety of dishes, such as vinaigrettes, dipping sauces, and salad dressings.

You can also add diced shallots to soups or stews for added flavor and texture. 

6. Add diced shallots to hummus or tahini sauce for an extra layer of flavor and health benefits.

Diced shallots are a great way to add additional flavor and health benefits to your hummus or tahini sauce. Shallots are low in calories, high in vitamin C and potassium, and have anti-inflammatory properties. When added to hummus or tahini sauce, they can help to deepen the flavor and provide some health benefits too.

How to choose shallots

There are a few things to consider when choosing shallots. First, you want to make sure they are fresh. Shallots that are older or have been stored in a moist environment will not be as flavorful as those that are fresh. Check the stem—a wilted stem means a shallot is old.

Second, you want to look for shallots with a nice firm texture, shiny bulbs, and tight, smooth skins that are free of bruises or blemishes. 

Final Thoughts

Shallots are an incredibly versatile, flavorful, and nutritious ingredient that can be used to add flavor to a variety of dishes. 

With all the health benefits they offer, it’s no wonder why shallots have been so popular for centuries! 

From boosting immunity, aiding digestion, and even decreasing inflammation, there are countless reasons why you should make sure to include shallots in your diet. 

So next time you’re at the store, don’t forget to pick up some shallots and start reaping all their health benefits!

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