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January 15, 2021
Health benefits of shallot

Many might think that shallots are simply a type of small and elongated onion, but the truth is that although they belong to the same family and their appearance is very similar, they are two different bulbs . If you want to learn a little more about the origin of shallots, their taste, nutritional properties, health benefits and ways of consumption, among other interesting information, keep reading below.

What are shallots?

The shallot ( Allium ascalonicum ), also known as shallot, shallot onion and shallot garlic, belongs to the Aliyaceae or Liliaceae family, hence it is closely related to white, yellow and purple onions , leeks , garlic and chive . As you might expect, shallots have some of that signature flavor, with sweet, tangy, and spicy notes all at the same time. However, they are milder than onions and evoke a little garlic flavor.

The edible part of the shallot is its bulb-shaped base, which grows partially under the ground as if it were a tuber . They can be eaten raw or cooked ; they are very versatile and easy to incorporate into many recipes. They are very popular in Indian, Asian, French and Mediterranean cuisine, where they not only provide flavor and aroma in the kitchen, but are also taken into account for their nutritional properties and medicinal value.

7 Interesting Facts and Features About Shallots

  • They are close relatives of the onion , but their formation is similar to that of garlic. They grow in a head-like structure made up of several pieces.
  • They have a more delicate flavor than onions, but can be used in the same way.
  • Its shape is elongated and the skin is usually copper, reddish or gray in color.
  • There are two main types of shallots: “true” shallots and “false” (larger) shallots .
  • Fresh, green shallots are available in the spring, while dried shallots (dry skin and moist meat) are available year-round.
  • Shallots can usually be found in 3 sizes : small, medium and jumbo; the latter is the least tasty type.
  • The younger (smaller) the shallot is, the milder it tastes. Shallot should not be confused with green onion or chive.

Nutritional properties of shallot

For starters, this bulb is rich in flavonoid and polyphenolic compounds, even in greater proportion than onion or garlic. It also contains dietary fiber, vitamins like vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B6, and folic acid, and essential minerals like potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and manganese.

half-cup serving of shallots , diced, is about1:

  • Calories: 56
  • Carbohydrates: 12 g
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Fibra: 5 g
  • Azúcar: 6 g
  • Vitamina A: 832 mg (17.5%)
  • Vitamina B6: 25 mg (12.5%)
  • Vitamina C: 5 mg (10%)
  • Dosage: 25 mg (10%)
  • Potasio: 234 mg (7.5%)

Note : Percent (%) values ​​are for adults or children over 4 years of age and are based on a 2,000 calorie daily reference diet. These daily values ​​can be higher or lower depending on individual needs .

Health benefits

Perhaps you are unaware that this is a very important medicinal bulb within the Ayurvedic system and that it has been used as a remedy for thousands of years to treat different ailments, both internally and externally. Ayurveda medicine ensures that shallots and onions have a natural “cooling” effect on the body, which is very beneficial in reducing inflammatory processes, muscle aches and fluid retention.

But the health benefits of shallot are much broader. Today it is known that its consumption can help us prevent and cure diseases ranging from allergic reactions to cancer. Let’s see what scientific research tells us about these and other medicinal properties.

They are rich in antioxidant compounds

Shallots are believed to contain more flavonoid and phenolic antioxidants than other members of their family. This makes them one of the best foods for reducing free radical damage , strengthening the immune system, and preventing various chronic diseases. Its sulfuric antioxidants, like allyl propyl disulfide (APDS) and flavonoids, like quercetin and kaempferol, are its best health benefits. These compounds are released during cutting or crushing, similar to what happens with garlic.

They help prevent and fight cancer

Research published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention in 2012 showed that ethyl acetate extract (EEO), found in shallots and onions, has powerful inhibitory effects on acid synthesis animal fat, which helps slow the growth of cancer cells 2.

Likewise, a large study on the connection between diet and cancer, which followed 120,852 men and women aged between 55 and 69 years (for 10 years), indicated that the consumption of allium vegetables, such as shallot, could significantly reduce the risk of stomach, breast and colon cancer 3 . The compound allicin, which is formed after the release of antioxidants, has also been shown to prevent oral and lung cancer.

They promote good heart health

Regular consumption of shallots helps us take care of our heart health in different ways.

According to a review carried out in 2013 by the Department of Applied Biology of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, allicin may have a protective action on the cardiovascular system, as it helps to decrease the level of reactive oxygen species and stimulates the production of glutathione ( strongest antioxidant known to date)4.

Likewise, allicin compounds have been linked to better control of cholesterol levels and a better functioning of the circulatory system , which helps reduce high blood pressure and prevent atherosclerosis naturally. The latter is known to be one of the leading causes of coronary heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes.5.

On the other hand, shallots are also a good source of potassium, an electrolyte that helps regulate fluid levels in the body and plays an essential role in nerve and muscle function, including one of the most important muscles: the heart. 6.

They could help fight obesity

Some studies have found that EEOs present in shallots can also suppress the accumulation of lipids (fats) in the body and help prevent obesity.7 . Since obesity is closely related to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer (obese patients are at high risk of developing these diseases8 ), eating these bulbs regularly is a good recommendation to prevent obesity and its complications.

They help prevent and treat allergies

The results of numerous studies have shown that shallots have remarkable antiallergic effects, which is attributed to their antihistamine, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties 9.

They have antibacterial and antiviral properties

Like garlic and onions, the natural oils in shallots produce biochemical reactions that help fight infections caused by viruses, bacteria, and even common fungi like Candida 10.

Research has found that almost all of these bulbs have alkalizing and antibacterial power, helping to fight resistant and potentially deadly strains of bacteria11 . In particular, allicin has been found to offer protection against a wide range of bacteria, including some that are already multidrug resistant.12.

Promote detoxification of the body

Shallots and garlic, among other spicy foods, are believed to help flush carcinogens and toxins from the digestive tract13 . They can also stimulate digestive enzymes, heal the gut, reduce oxidative stress within the digestive organs, and prevent inflammation associated with allergies or food sensitivities.14 . In case you don’t like the strong flavor of onions or garlic, shallot is a milder option that you can include in your regular diet to promote a greater release of toxins, especially to detoxify the liver.

They can help control blood sugar levels

Two of the phytochemicals found in shallots, allium and allyl disulfide, have been observed to help regulate blood sugar levels, hence its anti-diabetic properties. These compounds are able to stimulate the production of insulin in the pancreas, increase the amount of total insulin that circulates in the bloodstream and therefore reduce glucose levels after eating food.15.

How to cook shallots?

As we mentioned at the beginning, shallots can be eaten raw (taste similar to red onion) or cooked. The most common is to eat them cooked in the oven, glazed, caramelized , or even pickled in vinegar, but the truth is that they can be used as a substitute in any recipe that normally includes onion (although the intensity of the flavor will be less, there is an advantage to have Keep in mind: eating shallots won’t leave you bad breath).

Prepare a shallot for cooking in 2 steps:

  1. Cut off both ends and remove the skin.
  2. Separate the bulbs and carefully slice them with a sharp knife. A small shallot usually has 2 to 3 cloves, while a large shallot can have up to 6 cloves; Chop the amount of cloves that you are going to use and keep the rest in the refrigerator for future preparations.

In general, they are a great addition to stir-fries, salads, soups, and stews. Many people tend to include them in the preparation of homemade sauces, combining them to taste with other fresh vegetables and fruits; for example pineapple, jalapeño and shallot sauce.

Shallots combine very well with the flavor of garlic, rosemary, thyme, balsamic vinegar, red wine and olive oil, so feel free to mix several of these ingredients to prepare a special sauce or marinade in your kitchen .

Another recommendation is to use whole shallot bulbs , especially if you are cooking them in the oven (20 minutes). The result is usually incredible; once the outermost layer is cut through you can enjoy an almost creamy consistency in the center of the shallot.


  • Shallots tend to be sweet, so using 1 or 2 finely chopped is more than enough to flavor recipes.
  • Although they can be caramelized like onions, shallots cook and fade easily. It’s important to sauté them over low heat for a few minutes, or you run the risk of overcooking them; if so, the resulting taste will be bitter rather than sweet.
  • They tend to go very well with dishes that call for white wine, cream and butter.

Contraindications and side effects

As with onion, most people can eat shallots without experiencing adverse effects , however in some cases they can be difficult to digest and cause interactions with some medications, especially if they have maintained a large consumption. The most common effects are usually:

  • Increased acidity in people with acid reflux disease (this does not usually occur in people who do not have this condition).
  • Worsening of symptoms related to irritable bowel syndrome (they contain FODMAP carbohydrates with the potential to cause digestive problems when they are not broken down properly in the intestine).
  • Presence of allergic symptoms (asthma, skin rash, red itchy eyes).

Photos and images of shallots 

Quick answers to Frequently Asked Questions

How to grow shallots at home?

Preparation of the land . Before planting shallots it is very important to prepare the soil. The conditions required are very similar to growing onion or garlic : in full sun and in neutral pH soil, create a raised, well-drained, compost-fertilized bed of soil. Note that shallots have shallow roots, so the soil must be kept evenly moist and weedy.

Sowing . Shallots can be planted from bulbs or seeds , however due to the large quantity of shallots that are obtained from a single bulb, as well as the longer growing time required when sowing by seed, most growers prefer the cultivation from the bulbs. To plant the shallot:

  • Separate the bulbs and plant them individually in fall, 4 to 6 weeks before the first frost. They can also be planted in spring 2 weeks before the last frost; fall shallots will be larger and ready to harvest 2-4 weeks earlier than spring shallots.
  • Since these bulbs have short root systems, the depth of the root is a crucial element. Plant them 2-3 cm deep, leaving 15-20 cm apart.
  • If temperatures drop below 0 ° F (-18 ° C), cover the shallots with 6 inches of hay, or straw, after the first frost. Remove the mulch in the spring when new growth appears.
  • The bloom on shallots must be cut back to allow the plant’s energy to be used in the production of the bulbs.
  • This crop is rarely damaged by pests or diseases, but can be affected by snails, slugs, larvae, grasshoppers, nematodes, among others.

Harvest . Shallot shoots can be harvested when they are 0.6 cm in diameter , or when the tops have browned and died naturally (usually 90 days after planting). If you decide to wait for more mature bulbs, reduce watering a few weeks before harvest to allow the bulb to form a protective layer.

Many shallot growers use the leaf tops as an alternative to green onions or chives. For this, it is necessary to wait for the upper leaves to show substantial growth, around 1 month after sowing.

After harvesting, separate the bulbs and dry them in a warm, well-ventilated area to allow them to cure, for two to three weeks. Save some bulbs for replanting in early spring.

What is the origin of shallots?

The origin of this ancient bulb is believed to be in Central or Southeast Asia, from where it quickly spread to India and other regions within the eastern Mediterranean. Apparently it was an ingredient highly appreciated by the Greeks and Romans, who called it ascaloniae (derived from the Phoenician city Ashkelon) and considered it as a natural aphrodisiac. Charlemagne is said to have ordered shallots planted in the gardens of the imperial kitchen during the 800s.

Depending on the region, the shallot usually has different traditional uses in cooking or natural medicine, for example:

India . They are used in the preparation of curries, pickles and different types of sambar (typical dish based on lentils); They have also been used as a home remedy for sore throats, swelling, infections, and other common ailments.

Iran . Known as mousir, shallots are grated and mixed with yogurt; this is served in almost all restaurants as a condiment for grilled kebabs. Across the Middle East it is customary to pickle them and use them to make different bitter dishes.

Southeast Asia . (Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia). They are commonly eaten raw, fried in coconut oil (crispy shallot chips), or combined with garlic to use as a condiment. When preparing pickles in vinegar, the shallot is usually served with cucumber.

Currently, the main producing countries are France, the Netherlands, the United States, the United Kingdom, Southeast Asian countries and Africa.

What is the shallot plant like?

The shallot or shallot is a variety of the Aliáceas family, hence it is a plant close to onion, garlic, leek, among other bulbs. Some of its main characteristics are:

  • Perennial plant that can reach up to half a meter in height.
  • Green and erect stem , with long, hollow and thin cylindrical leaves; usually one stem develops for each bulb.
  • Small bulbs that develop in clusters on a common base, very similar to the garlic plant.
  • Flowers small and purple that grow in umbel structure. Taking into account that the shallot is usually reproduced by replanting harvested bulbs, this plant has been losing the ability to produce flowers, or simply produces sterile flowers.

What are the varieties of shallot?

The main varieties of shallot grown around the world are divided into:

French varieties . Almost all French varieties have reddish-brown skin, purplish-pink flesh, and pear-shaped bulbs. Its flavor is a subtle combination of onion and garlic.

  • The gray shallots . They are elongated bulbs with gray skin and flesh strongly tinged with violet. Its flavor is very strong, hence it is one of the best shallots for many people. An example of this variety is the “Griselle” shallot.
  • The Jersey shallot . It has large bulbs and a less strong flavor.
  • The medium shallot . They are round bulbs with coppery-yellow skin and pinkish flesh. Its flavor is milder than that of gray shallot. Some varieties are Filer, Mikor, and Arvro.
  • The long or elongated shallot . It is a long bulb type, also with coppery-yellow skin and pink flesh, but it has a slightly stronger flavor than the medium shallot. Some varieties of long shallot are Jermor, Trégor, Longor, and Jersud.
  • The round shallot . Its flesh is more colorful and its flavor is milder compared to medium and long shallots.

Dutch varieties . The taste of Dutch shallots is stronger and onion-like compared to other varieties. They have yellow-orange skin and their pulp is usually yellow to cream, with rounder and smaller bulbs. Some popular Dutch varieties are Dutch Yellow and Chicken Leg; they tend to store well for longer periods of time than French varieties.

Hybrid varieties s. Unlike other varieties, hybrid shallots are generally grown from seed and planted in the spring. This allows a longer time between sowing and harvest, between 100 and 110 days. Available in red and yellow varieties, they all store better than non-hybrid varieties . Prisma (red color), Matador (red color), Ambition (red color), and Saffron (yellow color) are some popular hybrids.

How to select and store shallots?

Usually the peak season for shallots spans the summer months, but they can be found in large supermarkets throughout the year. The most important thing in selecting a healthy shallot is to pay attention to its appearance; A good shallot will have smooth skin attached to the bulb, will not show bruises or breakouts, will feel firm to the touch, and will be dry but not wrinkled.

After purchasing, they should be stored at room temperature in a cool, dark, and dry place with good air circulation. In these conditions they will remain in good condition for several days. Make sure you don’t pack them too much to prevent mold growth.

Shallots and chives: are they the same?

Although they are sometimes marketed as such, chives are not “green shallots . ” The most distinctive feature between the two is found in its bulb; Shallots grow in a cluster or head shape, similar to garlic, while chives have a single bulb, like a common onion, but much smaller.

What do shallots taste like?

The taste of shallots is often described as “sweeter and more delicate” than the taste of an onion , and less pungent than garlic. They can be included in numerous recipes, especially in stir-fries, roasts, soups, salads, etc.


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My name is Louise Hammond, and I am the creator of this website, a place to find information about tubers, bulbs and medicinal roots. In I show the properties, benefits, characteristics, photos and images, ways of growing and how to make delicious meals from starchy vegetables.