Onions are a superfood due to their rich nutritional values. This guide to onion health benefits can help you enjoy the power of three common varieties.
Onions are part of the allium genus, along with garlic and many other edible plants, and they offer a bevy of important health benefits which make them a superfood. Red, white, and green onions all share many qualities that make them a great choice for delivering excellent nutrition without adding many calories to your meal plan. Organic varieties are often free of synthetic pesticides, and the wide selection of onion types and preparation methods makes it easy to incorporate them in a vegetarian diet.
For more nutritious superfoods checkout our 50 Best Superfoods of 2015
Onion Health Benefits for Cancer Prevention
Onions feature many powerful antioxidants that can help trap free radicals and potentially reduce the likelihood of cancer development. Antioxidants like quercetin help prevent heart disease and stroke. These important substances also help by slowing or stopping the oxidation of many fatty acids commonly present in your body, giving onions exceptional anti-inflammatory properties. This can be very important for those recovering from injuries or suffering from diseases that cause inflammation of limbs or organs. Daily intake of onion has proven to be an excellent way to ward off esophageal and mouth cancers. Colorectal cancer, ovarian cancer, and laryngeal cancer instances decrease with even a moderate amount of onion antioxidant intake.
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Onion Health Benefits for Flu Prevention
Phytochemicals contained in most onion varieties are a great way to boost your immune system and help ward off diseases such as influenza. The quercetin and other flavonoids in onions are natural antibacterial agents. The combination of these elements can help prevent many household illnesses that spring up around the flu season each year. Onions provide an excellent source of fiber that can aid in digestion and help you fight many of the symptoms that arise during influenza or bacterial infections.
Onion Health Benefits for Hair Growth
Onions deliver excellent benefits when eaten, but the trend of applying onion oils to hair may deliver even more advantages. Common methods of using onions to enhance hair growth and fullness include placing raw onion juice on your scalp or mixing it with honey or rum before applying. Some people find raw onion juice to be an irritant, but mixing it with other substances can help cut down on irritation.
Onions are high in sulfur, and such an application expands blood vessels and increases blood flow to stimulate follicle growth. The antibacterial properties of onions can also help reduce inflammation on the scalp. All of these qualities combine to help make your hair stronger and reduce the likelihood of follicle infection. Combined with foods like brazil nuts that are rich in selenium and other hair strengthening minerals onions can rid you of excessive hair loss.
Red Onion Health Benefits
Red onions typically contain far more of the many antioxidant compounds found in onions than those of other varieties. These compounds are typically located in the outer layers of the onion, so it’s best to avoid over peeling and ensure that you get as much of the colorful layers of the onion as possible. Peeling red onions can remove as much as 75 percent of the anthocyanin pigment, which is a powerful and effective antioxidant. The same flavonoids that help fight bacteria also thin blood, making red onions a good choice for those trying to prevent the formation of blood clots.
White Onion Health Benefits
White onions are a better choice if you are already on blood thinner medication because you don’t want to increase the process unnecessarily. They are also a great garniture for many dishes. This means you can gain the benefits of eating onions with just a few slices added to your favorite recipes. White onions, like the sweet onion varieties, are often easier to digest when raw than other types of onions. They are also more perishable so may not last as long as red or green varieties.
Green Onion Health Benefits
Green onions are the best choice for those interested in bone health. Each stalk of green onion contains large amounts of vitamins K and C, which are both important for ensuring strong bones that remain healthy. Regular intake can help prevent or assist with the symptoms of osteoporosis.
Vitamin A also promotes eye health, allowing those who regularly consume onions to ward off night blindness and similar vision disorders that are tied to a lack of vitamin A in the body. Carrots are another food rich in Vitamin A. Vitamins C and A are also important for heart health, and they have powerful antioxidant properties that can help reduce instances of heart problems. Green onions contain all of these vitamin in fairly large quantities, offering more than many other varieties per serving.
The way that you store your onions can decrease their nutritional value by causing them to spoil much more quickly.
- New onions should be clean of blemishes or obvious rot and have skins that are smooth and dry to the touch.
- It is best to store onions in a cool, dry place away from bright light. Natural sunlight or moist conditions can cause onions to spoil exceptionally rapidly.
- Similarly, placing onions in a metal storage container can result in discoloration as the chemicals in the onion interact with the components of the bowl or container.
- Storing onions, except for the green varieties, in the refrigerator can cause them to lose their natural crispness and become soft.
The methods used in preparing onions may have a big impact on the level of nutrition delivered. Boiled onions may lose much of their nutritional value to the water in the pot, and it’s best to serve the broth created by boiling onions along with the vegetables themselves to ensure that these nutrients are not entirely lost. Similarly, excessive peeling and overcooking can remove or destroy important antioxidants that help give onions their powers to help fight cancer and bacteria.
Raw onions deliver the bulk of their nutrients, but many people find them to be an irritant to their stomachs or consider the sharp scent of some varieties offensive. Weighing the potential loss or destruction of nutrients against the potential onion health benefits can help you decide how to cook and store your produce.