Onion - How Healthy are Onions?
How Healthy are Onions?
Onions are a big part of the diet in most countries, eaten both raw, and cooked in a variety of ways. What's in an onion - how healthy are onions in our diets?
Some people have trouble cutting and slicing onions, causing them to 'cry' or at least irritating their eyes. This is caused by the sulphur compounds in onions, also present in garlic, and other allium (lily family) vegetables, such as leeks and chives.
These sulphur compounds, although irritating and odorous, actually contain the antimicrobial elements that fight bacteria, including E. coli and salmonella bacteria.
Onions have many of the same properties as garlic, although not such high levels.
Onions are very effective against cold symptoms, coughs and asthma, as well as helping with insomnia, and repelling insects.
An open jar containing an onion, left beside the bed, will help with breathing, relaxation, and restful sleep as well as reducing snoring, wheezing and coughing. With the added benefit of keeping insects at bay!
The stronger tasting onions have a higher nutrient content than the sweeter, smoother tasting type. Shallots have proved to be the most health giving type of onion, having up to 6 times more of the health giving components than other onions.
The oligomers in onions help the growth of healthy bifidobacteria and fight harmful bacteria, especially in the colon, and help reduce the risk of tumours, and colon and stomach cancer.
Onions are rich in flavonoids, which protect against cardiovascular disease, and their sulphur content also helps prevent clumping of platelets.
Onions are helpful in lowering the risk of blood clots, which makes them useful in fighting cardiovascular disease.
These pungent vegetables are rich in vitamin C, making them helpful with fighting colds, and also in chromium, helping cells respond to insulin, and lowering blood sugars.
Onions are also active in keeping levels of cholesterol and triglycerides balanced, increasing the good HDL, and decreasing LDL levels, thus preventing arteriosclerosis, heart attack and stroke.
Regular consumption of onion, like its cousin the garlic, will greatly reduce the risk of cancer in various forms, including: larynx, pharynx, oesophagus, oral cavity, breast, ovaries, prostate, renal, colon and stomach.
Onions rival milk for maintaining bone health, making them especially beneficial for women, particularly at menopausal age, to prevent osteoporosis.
Apart from their vitamin C content, onions have chromium, dietary fibre, manganese, vitamins A and B6, folate, potassium, molybdenum, copper, phosphorus, calcium and iron.
Onion is known to be a powerful antiseptic, and an onion paste was widely used in World War II to help close wounds and ease pain.
The many functions of the onion include:
Because of its high content of iron, the onion is extremely helpful in the treatment of anaemia
Just one small onion a day, makes a big difference to cholesterol levels, so helping to prevent heart disease.
The natural anti-inflammatory in onions help to relieve symptoms in arthritis and gout, among other inflammatory diseases.
A natural antiseptic, onion fights bacteria in the digestive system, including E. coli and salmonella, as well as bacteria in the respiratory system, making it effective against tuberculosis bronchitis etc. Onion is also effective against infections of the urinary tract (UTIs) including cystitis.
For treating UTIs, boil some onion in water, let the water reduce by about half, strain and leave to cool. Drunk cold, this will help relieve irritation and burning.
Blood Pressure and Cholesterol
Both raw and cooked onions help in lowering BP, as well as thinning blood, dissolving clots, and clearing fats, cholesterol and triglycerides from the bloodstream.
Apart from helping prevent cancer in the stomach and colon, will also relieve constipation and flatulence. Helpful in most stomach problems, in fact.
Some cultures use onion juice on cotton wool to help against tinnitis, or 'ringing' in the ear.
Onion juice has also been claimed to promote hair growth, when applied to the scalp, although this has not been proven.
Onions have proved helpful in strengthening of bones, and the prevention of bone breakdown.
Onion juice mixed with honey helps to break down mucus, thus helping against coughs and colds, and respiratory problems. Also useful in fighting infection, reduce fever, and other flu symptoms. This mixture is particularly helpful with asthma, taken three or four times a day will help to stave off attacks.
Many people who find onions irritate their eyes, will run them under cold water to cut them, but this can wash away a lot of the benefits. Better to chill onions in the fridge, or a couple of minutes in the freezer, before cutting, and use a very sharp knife which will cut through with less 'squirting'.
So in answer to the question "how healthy are onions?" The response is "Extremely! Very! Amazingly!"
Like anything else, they are much more beneficial in their raw state, but still retain their goodness when cooked, provided you don't overcook. Many people cannot take raw onions to their system, for whatever reason, but lightly cooking is okay. Cooking them until they are soft and opaque, they are still beneficial. Fried until brown and starting to crisp, they've lost a lot. Adding them to stews and soups is fine as the nutrients remain in the dish.
Add onions to your diet as often as you can, and reap the benefits. You will find the way that you like best to eat them, and you are only doing your body good.