We tend to think of this vegetable for its taste contribution to our meals but the humble onion has many health benefits too.
Onions come in all shapes, sizes and colors with smaller onions including green onions or scallion such as chives, leeks and shallots. Larger everyday onions can be white, yellow, red or green but the smaller the onion, the stronger the taste. The onion is a member of the lily family and a close relative of garlic and has been popular for its therapeutic properties for thousands of years.
The majority of the onion crop is the yellow onion which is full flavored and can be used in most recipes. Yellow onions are the onions of choice for that famous onion soup beloved by the French. Red onions are popular for raw use as well as for grilling and roasting. White onions bring up the rear in the production numbers and are traditionally used in salads, white sauces and for Mexican cooking.
Health benefits of the onion
The onion is a powerful antiseptic that is rich in vitamins A, B and C as well as being a potent source of folic acid, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, chromium, iron and dietary fiber. Onions also contain quercetin, a flavonoid (and one category of antioxidant compounds). Antioxidants are compounds that help delay or slow the oxidative damage to cells and tissue of the body. Research studies have found that quercetin can help to eliminate free radicals in the body; to inhibit low-density lipoprotein oxidation (this is an important reaction in the atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease); to protect and regenerate vitamin E (a powerful antioxidant); and to inactivate the harmful effects of chelate metal ions.
Half a raw onion daily to prevent or treat these conditions
- Anemia because of the onion's high iron content.
- Cholesterol and heart disease because of the onion's anti-coagulant properties.
- Conditions caused by inflammation such as arthritis and gout.
- Bacteria infections because of the onion's antiseptic properties.
- Colon cancer because onions stimulate the growth of good bacteria in the colon while helping to reduce the risk of tumors.
- Diabetes because onions help to bring down insulin levels and improve glucose tolerance.
- Immune deficiency because onions increase blood circulation and cause sweating both of which can help to boost the immune system.
- Osteoporosis because onions can help to prevent the the breaking down of bones.
- Sinus conditions because onions help to drain mucus from the cavities and to loosen phlegm.
- Problems with worms or parasites because onions will help to destroy these.
Some tips for preparing and cooking onions
Add plenty to your cooking to help relieve severe constipation and to prevent flatulence.
When preparing onions in your kitchen, you can avoid those tears if you chill the onions for about an hour before peeling them.
Another way is to peel onions underneath water.
Choose onions that are clean and well shaped which have no opening at the neck. Onions should have crisp, dry outer skins and avoid those that are sprouting or have signs of mold. When onions are of inferior quality, they often have soft spots, moisture at their neck, and dark patches, which are sure signs of decay. As conventionally grown onions are often irradiated to prevent them from sprouting, go for organically grown varieties whenever possible to avoid onions that have undergone this process and for a safer, all round healthier product.
The onion – another healing vegetable.