The Health Benefits of Onions

The Health Benefits of Onions
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What do Clark Kent and onions have in common? They are both ordinary looking on the outside, but have tremendous power on the inside. Of course, we know Superman isn't real--but onions really do have the potential to save your life. Dozens of studies have concluded that onions can fight cancer, relieve arthritis, fight heart disease, and lower blood sugar. That's delicious medicine.

Dig a little deeper into onions

Onions are members of the Allium genus and are closely related to garlic, leeks, scallions, and chives. At your local market, you might see several common varieties: yellow, red, and white. The most common and pungent type of onion is yellow, which you'll often see in mesh bags at the supermarket. Red onions are slightly milder in flavor than yellow, and white onions are the least potent, both in flavor and nutrition.

Onions and their superpowers

There has been a great deal of research on the benefits of onions and, after looking into many of these studies, you may be wondering if there is anything that onions can't do. Here are some of the most powerful compounds in the ordinary onion:

  • Quercetin: Much research has been done on a compound in onions called quercetin. Quercetin has remarkable powers. It acts as an antihistamine (relieves allergy symptoms) and fights free radicals in the body (protects against cell damage). Studies show that quercetin may fight cancers of the prostate, breast, ovaries, colon, liver, esophagus, larynx, uterus, stomach, and kidneys.
  • Organosulfurs: When you cut into an onion, your eyes water. Sulfur, the ingredient that causes this reaction, is very beneficial to the body. Sulfur relieves inflammation, which can diminish asthma and arthritis symptoms, and can even fight against heart disease. Your body's connective tissue needs sulfur to form, which means your bones and cartilage benefit from this stinky compound as well.
  • Chromium: Onions contain chromium, which increases the action of insulin in the body, and may help regulate blood sugar levels. Sometimes, a chromium deficiency can lead to abnormal blood sugar levels, so onions are a great food to help maintain those chromium levels.

Make onions a part of your life

Studies indicate that a half-cup serving of onions is enough to bring about these health benefits. This is easy to do, since onions are inexpensive and delicious! When you shop for onions, look for ones that are round, clean, closed at the neck, and have no soft spots. Avoid onions that are damp, have dark patches or are sprouting (unless, of course, you are buying fresh onions from a farmers' market).

Chilling an onion before you slice it may prevent you from crying, but storing onions in the refrigerator will shorten their life. Place onions in a basket or rack where air can circulate around them, and store them in a cool, dry place. There are nearly limitless ways to enjoy onions and all their wonderful health benefits. Try them fresh, sauteed, caramelized, grilled, baked, or boiled.

 

Sources:

Antimutagenic, antioxidant and free radical scavenging activity of ethyl acetate extracts from white, yellow and red onions, Aug. 2012

Self Nutrition Data

Anti-allergic effects of herbal product from Allium cepa (bulb)


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