Now that winter's cold weather is upon us, there's nothing better than a hot bowl of soup. It warms your inside and makes you feel great all over. But if you eat the right kind of soup, you can do more than just warm your body. Two new studies show you can also prevent heart disease and cancer.

In the first study, researchers evaluated the heart-protecting effects of onion soup on six people. They found that eating onion soup can prevent blood clots and reduce your risk heart disease.

Even though the study was small, it was double blind and crossover. In the study, researchers looked at the effects of onion soup in two different forms. One had high quercetin levels; the other was very low. And they also evaluated the participants when they were not eating the soup and when they were.

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The soup with high levels of quercetin (69 mg) inhibited aggregation and cell signaling, which can lead to a clot. The researchers saw this action take place within one to three hours of eating the soup. That's very fast. But the soup with low levels of quercetin (5 mg) didn't have this effect.

The authors concluded, "Those who preferentially consume high amounts of apples, onions, red wine, and tea containing high concentrations of quercetin have a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease." But that's not all onion soup can do.

The second study showed that those with the highest daily intake of onions and garlic had the most protection from a variety of cancers. Those cancers included esophageal, colon, breast, ovarian, and prostate.

Quercetin is one of my favorite nutrients. It's a potent bioflavonoid. The nice thing is that you can get sufficient amounts of quercetin in your food. So you don't have to take a pill? I eat at least half a large onion in my salad every day. You might consider the same in addition to an apple (also high in quercetin) a day to keep the doctor away!

Ref: AJCN, November 2006; 84(5): 1027-1032; Br J Nutr., 2006; 96(3): 482-8.

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