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Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2007;47(4):397-409.

Food content, processing, absorption and metabolism of onion flavonoids.

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VUP Food Research Institute, Priemyselna 4, 824 75 Bratislava, Slovak Republic.


The question as to how far the development of chronic diseases in humans depends on diet still remains open. Simultaneously, epidemiological studies suggest the consumption of a flavonoids rich diet might decrease the risk of degenerative changes and certain diseases. The intake of this group of compounds as to quality and quantity depends on dietary habits and a widespread presence of quercetin in the diet makes this compound one of the key factors. Onion, one of the richest and most common quercetin sources, was particularly often studied in different aspects. Quercetin is present in onion mainly as glycosides, of which the distribution within the onion bulb changes in onion processing, and biological activities attracted a lot of attention. Especially antioxidative activity demonstrated in vitro was initially associated with most of the beneficial effects of quercetin on the human body. However, after ingestion quercetin undergoes extensive metabolism and microbial action resulting in its altered or degraded structure; therefore, most of the effects shown in in vitro experiments with the pure compound cannot be directly extrapolated to in vivo systems. Yet, this does not mean that quercetin simultaneously loses its positive impact on consumer health. Even after being metabolized it may still affect the redox balance by inducing antioxidative and detoxifying enzymes or compounds which may be involved in sustaining homeostasis.

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