Unassuming onions are anything but forgettable and featured prominently in a variety of dishes and cuisines to delicious effect, but are onions good for you? The health benefits of onions have been studied and verified but eating onions for health reasons is a centuries old practice. In fact, your grandmother may have rubbed onions on your chest when sick with a cold. What are some onion health benefits to growing onions? Let’s learn more.
Are Onions Good for You?
The simple answer is yes! Eating onions has health benefits. For one thing, onions are low in calories and sodium, and contain no fat or cholesterol. This makes them a healthy option to flavor foods versus adding salt, sugar, or fat.
Onions are rich in vitamin C, fiber, folic acid, sulphuric compounds, flavonoids, and phytochemicals. We have all heard about the benefits of vitamin C, but what about the other nutrients?
Growing Onions for Health
There are many other healthful reasons to grow and eat these vegetables. Flavonoids are what accounts for the brilliant color of some vegetables. They have been shown to reduce the risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease, and Parkinson’s. A flavonoid found in onions, quercetin, acts as an antioxidant that may help prevent cancer and have heart health benefits.
Quercetin also eases the symptoms associated with bladder infections, promotes prostate health, and lowers blood pressure. The health benefits of onions don’t just stop with flavonoids though.
Other phytochemicals found in onions help maintain health and have antimicrobial effects. Since onions are used in so many different cuisines, they are likely the best source of antioxidants which lend onions their distinct flavor. The antioxidant, polyphenol, protects the body against free radicals which also support a healthy immune system.
Onions are rich in amino acids such as sulfur. Sulfur aids in protein synthesis and the building of cells. Sulfur also acts as a natural blood thinner in turn reducing the risk of heart attack or stroke. As if all these health benefits of onions aren’t enough, there’s more.
Onions increase oxylipins that aid in regulating blood fat levels and cholesterol. Again, reducing the risk of heart attack or stroke.
Another health benefit of onions is anti-inflammatory. Onions have the potential to relieve asthma symptoms. At the same time, the quercetin reduces allergic reactions by thwarting the production of histamines, the things that make us sneeze and itch.
If you are growing and eating onions for health, keep in mind that the benefits are most accessible when the bulb is eaten raw, although cooked onions are still good for you. Raw onions simply have higher amounts of flavonoids, as does the outer layers of onion flesh, so remove as little as possible of the onion when peeling it.
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Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.
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