Tight control of blood glucose is the most important strategy for the treatment of diabetes mellitus. Here, we investigated the beneficial effects of Welsh onion on fasting and postprandial hyperglycemia. Inhibitory activities of hot water extracts from the green stalk and white bulb, which are the edible portions of the Welsh onion, and the fibrous root extract against yeast α-glucosidase were measured in vitro. To study the effects of Welsh onion on postprandial hyperglycemia, a starch solution (1 g/kg) with and without Welsh onion fibrous root extract (500 mg/kg) or acarbose (50 mg/kg) was administered to streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats after an overnight fast. Postprandial plasma glucose levels were measured and incremental areas under the response curve were calculated. To study the hypoglycemic effects of chronic feeding of Welsh onion, five-week-old db/db mice were fed an AIN-93G diet or a diet containing either Welsh onion fibrous root extract at 0.5% or acarbose at 0.05% for 7 weeks after 1 week of adaptation. Fasting plasma glucose and blood glycated hemoglobin were measured. Compared to the extract from the edible portions of Welsh onion, the fibrous root extract showed stronger inhibition against yeast α-glucosidase, with an IC(50) of 239 µg/mL. Oral administration of Welsh onion fibrous root extract (500 mg/kg) and acarbose (50 mg/kg) significantly decreased incremental plasma glucose levels 30-120 min after oral ingestion of starch as well as the area under the postprandial glucose response curve, compared to the control group (P < 0.01). The plasma glucose and blood glycated hemoglobin levels of the Welsh onion group were significantly lower than those of the control group (P < 0.01), and were not significantly different from those fed acarbose. Thus, we conclude that the fibrous root of Welsh onion is effective in controlling hyperglycemia in animal models of diabetes mellitus.
Keywords: Welsh onion; diabetes; glucose; glycated hemoglobin; α-glucosidase inhibition.