The effects of Welsh onion on the development of hypertension and autoxidation were studied in 6-week-old male Sprague-Dawley rats. The rats were fed with a control diet or a high-fat high-sucrose (HFS) diet with or without 5% Welsh onion (green-leafy type or white-sheath type) for 4 weeks. The systolic blood pressure was elevated and the thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) in plasma were increased in the rats fed with the HFS diet without Welsh onion. The rats fed with the HFS diet containing Welsh onion, especially the green-leafy type, had lower blood pressure. They also had a higher level of nitric oxide (NO) metabolites in both the urine and plasma, lower activity of NADH/NADPH oxidase in the aorta, and suppressed angiotensin II production. The effect of white Welsh onion on decreasing the blood pressure was not significant, although the effects on increasing NO metabolites in the urine and decreasing NADH oxidase activity in the aorta were significant. The TBARS value in the plasma was lowered in the rats fed with either green or white Welsh onion, but the in vitro radical scavenging and ferric reducing antioxidative activities were much higher with green Welsh onion than with the white type. These results suggest that the green-leafy Welsh onion, but not the white type, reduced superoxide generation by suppressing the angiotensine II production and then the NADH/NADPH oxidase activity, increasing the NO availability in the aorta, and consequently lowering the blood pressure in the rats fed with the HFS diet. The radical scavenging and reducing antioxidative activities of green Welsh onion may also be effective in decreasing superoxide.
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