Nearly everyone uses onion. It is one of the most used vegetables around the world, particularly for its health benefits, which include reduced risk of inflammation.
Being one of the flowering plants, onions fall under the genus Allium that includes other members, such as shallots, chives, garlic, and leeks. Published studies have shown onions to contain vitamins, minerals, and powerful plant compounds with health benefits.Onions have been used from time immemorial when they were specifically used to manage minor sicknesses like oral thrush, heart disease, and headaches. This article will examine some of the potential health benefits associated with the use of onions.
Onions are Incredibly Nutritious
Onions are highly loaded with important nutrients which are beneficial to health. The content of vitamins and minerals is high with a low-calorie, making onions nutrient-dense.According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), about 44 calories and high doses of fiber, vitamins, and minerals are contained in just one medium-sized onion.One particular vitamin loaded in onion is vitamin C, which is an immune booster responsible for the regulation of immunity, production of collagen, absorption of iron, and repair of damaged tissues. Onions also act as antioxidants in the body, protecting the cells from damages that can be caused by free radicals. These are unstable molecules produced as end products of metabolism.
A variety of B vitamins are contained in onions including vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and vitamin B9 (folate). Both of these vitamins are partly or fully engaged in erythropoiesis (production of red blood cells), healthy metabolism, and nerve functions. Onions also pack potassium, an essential mineral and electrolyte most people don’t take enough. Potassium is important for the transmission of nerves, electrolyte and fluid balance, muscle contraction, and renal function.
May Protect the Heart
According to published studies, onions contain powerful antioxidants and plant compounds that have been shown to reduce inflammation, reduce levels of cholesterols and lipids in the blood. These put together can help reduce the risk for heart disease.Since they possess anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidants may prevent the risk of stroke by lowering blood pressure and protect against the formation of blood clots. One particular flavonoid antioxidant in onion is quercetin which is found in high quantity and has been shown to play a role in reducing high blood pressure.
May Help Regulate Blood Sugar Levels
Increased blood sugar levels may be caused by insulin resistance as seen in type 2 diabetes. Fortunately, eating onions has been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels.One particular study published in the National Institutes of Health examined 42 individuals with type 2 diabetes. Researchers found that eating fresh red onions helped lower the levels of fasting blood sugars by 40 mg/dl after 240 minutes. Participants were given 100 g of onions.
May Help Fight Cancer
Cancer is one of the chronic diseases with high fatality rates. It is characterized by the uncontrolled growth of cells. Including certain foods in your diet such as Allium genus vegetables may help reduce the risk of cancer like that of stomach, colon, and rectum. Several studies found that participants who frequently ate garlic and onions had a reduced likelihood of developing stomach ulcers by 22% compared to those who didn’t eat or ate fewer amounts of vegetables from the Allium genus.The ability of onions to fight cancer is partly due to their high content of sulfur compounds. For example, one study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that onion A which is a compound containing sulfur in onions is able to reduce the development of tumors.Another reason explaining the anti-cancer properties of onions is the content of flavonoid antioxidants which have been shown by published studies to initiate apoptosis (programmed cell death.
May Help Strengthen Bones
One of the main causes of weak bones is poor dietary intake. Diet especially, a diary helps in increasing bone density. Eating onions have also been shown to strengthen bones.One study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information examined 24 women in their post-menopausal years. After giving them a daily dose of 100 ml of onion juice for 8 weeks, mineral density as well as the activity of antioxidants increased significantly.Furthermore, women in their menopause can lower their likelihood of incurring bone fractures by up to 20%. It is also believed that consumption of onions, can help increase the levels of antioxidants, reduce the effects of free radicals, as well as reducing bone loss.
Possesses Antibacterial Properties
Including onions in your diet may help protect against bacterial infections. This is because onions are active against several strains of bacteria including E. coli, P.aeruginosa, B. cereus, and S. aureus. Some studies have also shown that extracts obtained from onions can help suppress the multiplication of V. cholerae, a bacteria responsible for the occurrence of cholera.The secret behind onion’s ability to inhibit bacterial growth is attributed to the presence of a powerful compound – quercetin. Quercetin extracts especially from the skin of yellow onion reduced the multiplication of H. pylori which is responsible for peptic ulcer disease.
May Support Digestive Health
A healthy digestive system largely relies on the presence of good gut bacteria. Eating onions pack lots of fiber which also acts as prebiotics feeding the good gut bacteria.
Onion is grouped with garlic, shallots, and leeks under the Allium genus. Including onion in your diet packs beneficial nutrients and antioxidants in your body which makes it offer unique health benefits. These include protecting against cancer and strengthening bones among other health benefits.