Onions: Good For You

Words: Team THINKWELLNESS360 

Never mind the tears they bring on — besides adding oodles of taste to your food — onions provide incredible health benefits. 

Onion is found in almost every kitchen, everywhere, thanks to the delectable taste it brings to food. Onions also form the basis of several dishes — be it raw, cooked, sautéed, baked, steamed, or boiled. It would be difficult to imagine the cuisine of any country without onions. Moreover, onions have a lot of curative powers that make them an important medicinal plant too.

Onions were historically used as preventative ‘medicine’ during ancient epidemics of cholera and the plague. They were apparently eaten by Roman emperor Nero, as a cure for colds.

The total polyphenol [antioxidant] content of onions is much higher than in several other vegetables thought to be the powerhouses of polyphenols, such as garlic, tomatoes, carrots etc.

Flavonoid Powerhouse 

In the polyphenol category, onions are high in flavonoids, or plant pigments. They rank among the top ten of commonly eaten vegetables for their quercetin content. Quercetin is nature’s best remedy for allergies and also heart disease.

The flavonoid content of onions can vary widely, depending on the exact variety and growing conditions. However, when onions are simmered to make soup, their quercetin content does not get degraded. It simply gets transferred into the water part of the soup. By using a low-heat method for preparing onion soup, one can preserve the health benefits of onion that are associated with this key flavonoid.

Remember that the flavonoids in onions are more concentrated in the outer layers of the flesh. Thus, to maximise your health benefits, peel off as little of the fleshy, edible portion as possible when removing the onion’s outermost ‘paper’ layer. Even a small amount of ‘overpeeling’ can result in a loss of flavonoids. For example, a red onion can lose about 20 per cent of its quercetin and almost 75 per cent of its anthocyanins, when ‘overpeeled.’

Keep Osteoporosis At Bay 

Onions are particularly good for people suffering from [or, at risk of developing] osteoporosis. This is because onions are loaded with a peptide called glutamyl-propenyl-cysteine sulfoxide [GPCS], which is believed to slow down your body’s loss of calcium. Onions may also be useful in the fight against heart disease and diabetes, because they are loaded with vitamin C and folates.

Balancing Blood Sugar  

Onions have been used in folk medicine for the relief of coughs, colds and catarrh, especially asthma, but more recently some of their curative properties have been attributed to a compound called allyl-propyl-disulphide [APDS], which is thought to have a similar effect on insulin in balancing blood sugar levels. This does not mean that onions can be used as a substitute for insulin therapy; all the same, it may be of use as a healthy anti-diabetic home remedy.

Fact-File 

  • The phytochemicals [nutraceuticals] in onions improve the functioning of vitamin C in the body. This improves our body’s immunity
  • Onions contain chromium, which assists in regulating blood sugar levels
  • Onions have been used since ancient times to reduce inflammation and heal infections
  • Quercetin in onions is known to play a significant role in preventing allergy, heart disease, tummy disorders and cancer
  • Raw onion encourages the production of ‘good’ cholesterol [HDL], thus keeping your heart healthy
  • Onions scavenge free radicals, thereby reducing your risk of developing gastric ulcers
  • The bright green tops of green onions are rich in vitamin A — they are good for your eyes.

 

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