Onions, like garlic, are members of the Allium family, and both are rich in sulfur-containing compounds that are responsible for their pungent odors and for many of their health-promoting effects.
Onions are healthy whether they’re raw or cooked, though raw onions have higher levels of organic sulfur compounds that provide many benefits, according to the BBC. A 2005 study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that there is a high concentration of flavonoids in the outer layers of onion flesh, so you’ll want to be careful to remove as little of the edible part of the onion as possible when peeling it. For example, a red onion can lose about 20% of its quercetin and almost 75% of its anthocyanins if it is “overpeeled.”
Because of their use in cooking around the world, onions are among the most significant sources of antioxidants in the human diet, according to a 2002 report in the journal Phytotherapy Research. Their high levels of antioxidants give onions their distinctive sweetness and aroma. These antioxidants and flavonoids may help promote heart health, reduce inflammation and decrease the risk of cancer, in addition to a load of other good things.
Onions can help increase our bone density and may be of special benefit to women of menopausal age who are experiencing loss of bone density. In addition, there is evidence that women who have passed the age of menopause may be able to lower their risk of hip fracture through frequent consumption of onions. “Frequent” in this context means onion consumption on a daily basis!
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Onions’ sulfurs may be effective anti-inflammatory agents, according to a 1990 study in the journal International Archives of Allergy and Applied Immunology. Quercetin has been found to relax the airway muscles and may provide relief of asthma symptoms, according to a 2013 study in the American Journal of Physiology. Although, onion is not as well researched as garlic in terms of specific inflammatory health problems like rheumatoid arthritis or allergic airway inflammation, this allium vegetable has nevertheless been shown to provide important anti-inflammatory benefits.
Unlike the research on garlic and its cardiovascular benefits, research specifically focused on onion has mostly been conducted on animals rather than humans. In animal studies, there is evidence that onion’s sulfur compounds may work in an anti-clotting capacity and help prevent the unwanted clumping together of blood platelet cells. There is also evidence showing that sulfur compounds in onion can lower blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, and also improve cell membrane function in red blood cells.
Onion has repeatedly been shown to lower our risk of several cancers, even when we consume it in only moderate amounts. “Moderate” generally means 1-2 times per week, even though in some studies it has been used to mean up to 5-6 times per week. Colorectal cancer, laryngeal cancer, and ovarian cancer are the cancer types for which risk is reduced along with moderate amounts of dietary onion. For other cancer types, however, moderate intake of onion has not been enough to show significant risk reduction. For these cancer types—including esophageal cancer and cancers of the mouth—daily intake of onion is required before research results show significant risk reduction.
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The fiber in onions promotes good digestion. Additionally, onions contain a special type of soluble fiber called oligofructose, which promotes good bacteria growth in your intestines. One 2005 study in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology found that oligofructose may help prevent and treat types of diarrhea. The phytochemicals in onions that scavenge free radicals may also reduce your risk of developing gastric ulcers, according to the National Onion Association.
The chromium in onions assists in regulating blood sugar. The sulfur in onions helps lower blood sugar by triggering increased insulin production. One 2010 study in the journal Environmental Health Insights revealed that this might be especially helpful to people with people with diabetes. People with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes who ate red onions showed lower glucose levels for up to four hours.
In addition, Onions are assumed to be able to lower your risk of cataract formation, diminish replication of HIV, antimicrobial properties that may help reduce the rate of food-borne illness, Reduced risk of neurodegenerative disorders.
On the downside, although, not especially serious, eating onions can cause problems for some people. The carbohydrates in onions may cause gas and bloating, according to National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Onions, especially if consumed raw, can worsen heartburn in people who suffer from chronic heartburn or gastric reflux disease, according to one 1990 study in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.
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Eating a large amount of green onions or rapidly increasing your consumption of green onions may interfere with blood thinning drugs, according to the University of Georgia. Green onions contain a high amount of vitamin K, which can decrease blood thinner functioning.
It is also possible to have a food intolerance or an allergy to onions, but cases are rare, according to an article in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. People with onion allergies may experience red, itchy eyes and rashes if an onion comes into contact with the skin. People with an intolerance to onions may experience nausea, vomiting and other gastric discomfort.
Inspite of these few minor allergic issues, why not grab an onion today guys and enjoy all these positive health benefits.