Onion is a very widely cultivated vegetable all around the worlds. They are used in dishes and curries but they can also be eaten raw, mixed with salads or to make pickles and chutneys. The geographic origin of the onion is uncertain because the wild onion is extinct and ancient records of using onions span western and eastern Asia. Food uses of onions date back thousands of years in China, Egypt and Persia.
The health benefits of onions are often overlooked because of their pungent smell and sharp taste and many people prefer to give them a miss. What a shame if that’s the case for you! If you want to know what you’re missing read on and you might change your mind.
People have known for the health benefits of onions for thousands of years, but only relatively recently scientists have started to do a lot of research into the health-giving properties of this humble vegetable, and guess what?
Studies after studies have confirmed that onions indeed possess many active compounds that have been proven beneficial for all sorts of conditions.
- Better Oral Health: This may seem odd since onions can cause bad breath, but chewing raw onion is known to improve the strength of the teeth and fight off bacteria which can cause tooth decay. Chewing some raw onion for 2 or 3 minutes could kill most germs in the mouth.
- Cancer: Allium vegetables have been studied extensively in relation to cancer, especially stomach and colorectal cancers. Their beneficial and preventative effects are likely due in part to their rich organosulfur compounds. Although the exact mechanism by which these compounds inhibit cancer is unknown, possible hypothesis includes the inhibition of tumour growth and mutagenesis and prevention of free radical formation.
Onions are also a source of the strong antioxidant vitamin C that helps to combat the formation of free radicals known to cause cancer.
- Lower Blood Sugar, Helps with Diabetes — Onions contain a compound called allyl propyl disulphide (APDS), which harnesses blood sugar-lowering effects. One study found that “The administration of allyl propyl disulphide (APDS), a volatile substance contained in onion…caused a significant fall in the blood glucose levels and a significant rise in the serum insulin levels…” Onions are also high in chromium, a mineral which helps cells respond to glucose.
- Strengthens the Immune system: The phytochemicals that are present in significant amounts in onions act as a stimulant to vitamin C within the body. The efficacy of vitamin C, and subsequently your immune system, is boosted when you eat onions since it supercharges your immune system against toxins and various foreign bodies that can lead to disease and illness.
- Glowing Skin: Onion juice mixed with honey or olive oil is said to be the best treatment for treating symptoms or signs of acne. Onions are also notorious anti-inflammatory vegetables, so the active compounds in onions can reduce the redness and swelling that is commonly associated with skin conditions like acne. It also helps to reduce the associated pain and inflammation of conditions like gout and arthritis.
Water – g 89.11
Energy – kcal 40
Protein – g 1.1
Total lipid (fat) – g 0.1
Carbohydrate, by difference – g 9.34
Fibre, total dietary – g 1.7
Sugars, total – g 4.24
Calcium, Ca – mg 23
Iron, Fe – mg 0.21
Magnesium, Mg – mg 10
Phosphorus, P – mg 29
Potassium, K – mg 146
Sodium, Na – mg 4
Zinc, Zn – mg 0.17
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid – mg 7.4
Thiamin – mg 0.046
Riboflavin – mg 0.027
Niacin – mg 0.116
Vitamin B-6 – mg 0.12
Folate, DFE – µg 19
Vitamin B-12 – µg 0
Vitamin A, RAE – µg 0
Vitamin A, IU – IU 2
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) – mg 0.02
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) – µg 0
Vitamin D – IU 0
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) – µg 0.4
Fatty acids, total saturated – g 0.042
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated – g 0.013
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated – g 0.017
Fatty acids, total trans – g 0
Cholesterol – mg 0
Caffeine – mg 0
Source: Food Healing Power, Medical News Today, USDA.