The onion is a primary staple in so many kitchens around the world. It is an essential component of the mirepoix, a French flavor base, and diced onions are typically at the core of any stock, soup, or stew because they add texture and aromatic flavor. They are commonplace in many recipes, so people often overlook their incredible health benefits.
What Are Onions?
Onions belong to the Allium genus family, which is a group of flowering plants that includes leeks, chives, shallots, and garlic. Packed with various phytonutrients and flavonoids, onions help boost collagen production, enhance immune function, and increase iron absorption, just to name a few benefits. The most impressive flavonoid in onions is quercetin, which is a powerful antioxidant that has exhibited cancer-fighting properties. It may also help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke. Continue reading to see why the onion is one of the healthiest foods to have in your diet.
5 Health Surprising Health Benefits Of Onions
Potential Cancer Protection
According to nutritionists, several servings of onions per week may help to decrease your risk of laryngeal, ovarian, esophageal, and colorectal cancers. The amount of servings you need to eat per week to fight those cancers will depend on which type of cancer you have. Allium vegetables like onions contain powerful antioxidants. In fact, some onions contain over 25 different antioxidants. Red onions contain anthocyanins, and many studies linked them to reduced risk of certain cancers and heart attacks. One study found that people in Italy and Switzerland ate onions and garlic, both of which helped lower the risk of several common cancers.
Cholesterol Lowering Ability
Due to the inherent antioxidants, onions have the ability to decrease inflammation and reduce cholesterol, which ultimately reduces your risk of heart disease. One study with 54 obese women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) found that consuming a lot of raw red onions for eight weeks straight helped reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Another study monitored 24 women with high cholesterol. The women who drank onion juice daily for eight weeks straight experienced a reduction in total cholesterol, while the women who drank a placebo experienced no cholesterol reduction.
If you want to improve your gut microbiome, you need prebiotics and probiotics. Onions happen to be excellent sources of prebiotics, which are non-digestible fibers that probiotics break down. This helps increase the presence of beneficial gut bacteria, which has been linked to better immune health, reduced inflammation, and improved digestion. Adding onions to your diet can also improve your ability to absorb nutrients through the digestive process.
Potential Blood Sugar Regulators
For people with diabetes or prediabetes, controlling blood sugar is a constant battle. According to several studies, the sulfur and chromium in onions can help regulate blood sugar by increasing insulin production. A 2014 meta-analysis in the Nutrition journal found that people with type 2 diabetes experienced more normalized liver enzymes and reduced blood sugar after consuming sliced raw onions. Another study examined what happened to 42 diabetes patients after consuming raw red onion. The results indicated that eating 100 grams of raw red onion helped lower blood sugar levels by 40 mg/dl after four hours.
As previously mentioned in this article, quercetin is a powerful antioxidant. Many studies show that quercetin extract from onions has the ability to fight numerous bacteria, some of which are very dangerous to your health. One test-tube study found that quercetin extract from yellow onions inhibited the growth of H. Pylori and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria. Another study found that quercetin extract can help inhibit the growth of Vibrio cholerae, a bacterial strain that is a primary concern in developing nations.