Dietary onion intake as part of a typical high fat diet improves indices of cardiovascular health using the mixed sex pig model

Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2006 Dec;61(4):179-85. doi: 10.1007/s11130-006-0030-8.


The aim of this study was to evaluate the potential health benefits of onions consumed at two levels of intake, using the pig model. The dietary fat content was set at a level typical of a "western" diet (25% w/w). Fifteen female and fifteen male pigs (Large White x Landrace) were allocated to one of three dietary treatments in a randomised block design. Treatments consisted of control diet (no onion) and onion supplementation at either 8.6 or 21.4 g of onion/MJ DE fed for six weeks. Onion consumption reduced plasma triglyceride levels by 15% (P=0.030) regardless of sex and onion dose. Total plasma cholesterol and cholesterol fractions were unaffected by onion supplementation (P>0.050). The bioactivity of onion was evident in haematocrit measures, where red blood cell and haemoglobin were significantly reduced in a dose dependant manner (P<0.001 and P=0.011, respectively), while other cell counts, with exception of segmented neutrophils (-18%, P=0.012), were largely unaffected. Serum oxidative status was improved (P=0.007) in pigs consuming onions. These data demonstrate that consumption of onions can have positive health effects in both male and female pigs consuming a high fat diet.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Lipoproteins / metabolism
  • Male
  • Models, Animal
  • Onions*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Sex Factors
  • Swine
  • Thromboxane B2 / blood
  • Triglycerides / blood


  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Dietary Fats
  • Lipoproteins
  • Triglycerides
  • Thromboxane B2