It is true that chopping and peeling onions make you cry. But if you incorporate this versatile veggie in your diet, we promise you that in the future there would be no more tears- only joy. Onion or common onion belongs to the genus Allium and is a close relative of garlic, chives, leeks and Chinese onions. Onion is used as a fresh or dehydrated condiment in many cuisines globally. It is much loved for its distinctive pungent flavour. For ages, onion has been used in traditional medicines but now the herb and its components are being tapped for their medicinal properties outside traditional boundaries. Many health benefits have been linked to onion like preventing cancer, asthma, arthritis and diabetes. So, let us take a peek at the benefits of this versatile veggie.
What is Onion?
Onion is a vegetable that belongs to the Amaryllidaceae family. Onions have been grown for thousands of years now and can be traced back to the Bronze Age some 5000 BCE ago. Onion bulbs, leaves and flowers find their use in many cuisines in the world. They are used to make savoury dishes, pickles, chutneys, curries, in seasoning to name a few. Onion is a miraculous herb that is used in the prevention and cure of many ailments. Onion is a common vegetable in almost all homes in Asia, Middle East and Europe. But we hardly know about the benefits that this priceless vegetable provides to us. We have taken the pains to enlist all the details about this veggie for you. All you need to do is read and incorporate the vegetable in your daily diet.
Benefits of Onion
1. Reduces Inflammation
Querectin and sulphur components found in allium like onion are effective in reducing inflammation. A research paper published by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) suggested that onion and onion juice can be helpful in the treatment of inflammation and other inflammatory diseases.
2. Anti carcinogenic properties
Chewing onion releases organosulphur compounds that help the body filter out carcinogenic substances. In 2006 a study was published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. The paper concluded that a combination of onions and turmeric taken on a regular basis can combat the risk of precancerous hosts in the body, especially in the intestines. It reduces the risk of colon cancer and colorectal cancer.
3. Detoxifies the body
Onion and onion juice are very effective in detoxifying the body. NCBI published an article that suggested that allyl sulphur compounds found in onions can rid the body of harmful carcinogenic substances and other toxins. The compounds found in onions also prevent ‘bioactivation and carcinogenicity of non-nitrosamines or HCAs’ by targeting many tissue sites, the report read.
4. Prevents Arthritis
The Arthritic Foundation has advocated the benefits of onion in one of its posts. The article read that onions are a powerhouse of many antioxidants, flavonoids and compounds, especially querectic. Querectin has known benefits of reducing the activity of prostaglandins, histamines and leukotrienes thereby reducing the risk of bone diseases like arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
5. Antioxidant properties
Onions release organosulphur compounds when chopped or chewed. Organosulphur compounds in allium bulbs like onions have antioxidant properties, according to an article published by the NCBI. The antioxidants in onions scavenge free radicals from the body, preventing cell structure damage and DNA damage in the body.
6. Reduces asthma
Recent findings have revealed that onions are effective in reducing allergic reactions and asthma. Onions owes its antihistaminic properties to querectin which prevents the cells from producing histamines, thereby reducing the risk of allergies to a great extent. It curbs asthmatic attacks because of its antihistaminic and anti-inflammatory properties.
7. Lowers the risk of Diabetes
Many studies have been conducted to test the efficacy of onion and onion juice in lowering diabetes. A journal published in Clinica Chimica Acta, International Journal of Clinical Chemistry showed that onions can effectively cure diabetes. Allyl propyl disulphide, the essential oil found in onions reduces the blood sugar level by increasing the availability of insulin in the body.
8. Boosts Heart Health
Querectin, a compound in onions have been found to benefit heart health, studies have suggested. According to an article published in the Journal of Nutrition, regular consumption of onions reduces high blood pressure significantly. It also prevents the hardening of the arteries, regulates blood pressure and maintains the elasticity of the arteries.
9. Prevents Bacterial Infections
A research article published by the University College of London suggested that extracts from Persian shallots, a variety of onions can accentuate effects of antibiotics. Onions and onions juice have antibacterial properties. Compounds of onions showed reduction in multidrug resistant bacteria which otherwise cause greater damage to the body. It is effective in treating Tuberculosis and other bacterial infections.
10. Boosts eyesight
Glutathione, a compound found in onions is good for the eyes, research shows. The selenium in onions boosts the Vitamin E in the eyes and improves vision. Regular consumption of onions also helps in the prevention of glaucoma. Onion is an active ingredient in many eye drops and supplements as it also prevents the formation of corneal haze.
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Nutritional Values of Onion
Nutritional value contained in 100 gms of Onion
|Dietary Fiber||1.7 g|
|Thiamine B1||0.046 mg|
|Riboflavin B2||0.027 mg|
|Niacin B3||0.116 mg|
|Pantothenic Acid B5||0.123 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.12 mg|
|Folate B9||19 µg|
|Vitamin C||7.4 mg|
Risks or Precautions when consuming Onions
- Believe it or not, onions can cause allergic reactions. One can experience redness, itchiness, oral swelling, wheezing and shortness of breath if an onion allergic reaction triggers.
- Excessive consumption of onions can lead to abdominal gas and discomfort, research suggests. Onions contain fructose that passes through the stomach and gets broken down by bacteria in the intestine. It can cause gas build up, discomfort and abdominal bloating.
- Regular consumption of onions can result in acid reflux or heartburns. Onions can result in the stomach acid to travel upwards through the oesophagus in patients of chronic heartburn if they consume raw onions.
- Green onions are rich in Vitamin K. Excessive consumption of Vitamin K and other compounds in onions can interfere with a person’s drug intake. Differently compounds in onions and onion juice interact differently with various drugs. Consult a physician before incorporating onions in your diet if you are on drugs.
How to Consume Onion
The health benefits of onion are many. It should be included as an essential veggie in the everyday diet. Here are a few ways of incorporating the vegetable in your meals:
- In salads
Deseed some large ripe tomatoes, chop them into one inch cubes and place them in a bowl. Chop some cucumber, lettuce or red cabbage and one large onion and add them to the bowl. Finally, add a tablespoon of salt, one tablespoon of olive oil and a dash of lemon juice and toss the veggies well. You can consume this healthy salad whenever you want.
- Four Onion Soups
Chop a red onion, a yellow onion, a leek and four to five shallots. Heat olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan and sauté the onions with a pinch of salt until tender. Add around 4 cups of vegetable broth, cover the lid and cook. Blend the soup once the onions have tenderized. Adjust the seasoning and serve with croutons and Swiss cheese.
- Peppy Salsa
Finely chop some jalapeno peppers, deseeded tomatoes, a few sprigs of cilantro and a medium sized onion. Top it with a drizzle of lime juice and salt to taste. You can top your tacos with this salsa or use it as a cracker topping.
Some Fun Facts about Onions
- The consumption of onions has been traced back to around 5000 BCE where archaeologists have found traces of onion remains in archaeological sites of Bronze Age.
- It is an urban myth that suggests sliced onions shouldn’t be used later as it becomes highly poisonous. Sliced or cut onions can be safely used later as onions are not prone to contamination.
- Egyptians worshipped the onion as a symbol of eternity for its concentric circles and shape. Traces of onions buried with pharaohs were found in Egyptian tombs.
- The largest and heaviest onion to be ever grown holds the Guinness World Record of 2011. The onion weighed around 18 pounds.
Onions have myriad benefits for the body, skin and hair. It can be used in the treatment of bacterial infections, for heart health, regulating blood pressure, in the treatment of respiratory and digestive diseases, regulating blood sugar and more. If you are concerned about your overall health, and do not want to go for medical supplements, then we are sure you would incorporate this vegetable in your everyday diet.