The onion (Allium cepa), also known as the bulb onion or common onion, is used as a vegetable and is now the second most important horticultural crop after tomatoes. Onions belong to the lily family, the same family as garlic, leeks, chives, scallions and shallots. Onions are often called the “king of vegetables” because of its pungent taste. Also, onions when cut make the eyes water, because of cysteine sulfoxides that are released.
Nutritional Content of Onions
Onions are a very rich source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, biotin, chromium, calcium, sulfur and dietary fiber. They also contain good amounts of folic acid, vitamin B1, potassium, selenium, phosphorus and vitamin K.
Health Benefits of Onions
1. Excellent oral health: Onions are often used in the prevention of tooth decay and oral infections. Chewing raw onions for 2-3 minutes has the potential to rid of germs in the mouth, including the throat, gums and lips.
2. Anti-septic properties: Onions have been used to fight bacteria, including E.coli and salmonella, and are also effective against tuberculosis and infections of the urinary tract, such as cystitis.
3. Reducing cholesterol: Consuming half a medium raw onion a day helps to correct thrombosis, lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol and prevents heart attacks. In addition, onions boost the beneficial HDL cholesterol.
4. Relieves stomach aches: Onions have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties that can give relief to upset stomachs and other gastro-intestinal problems. This is owed to the saponins contained in onions which are anti-spasmodic chemicals that ensure that stomach disturbances do not continue and that the bowels are clear and smooth functioning.
5. Treatment of anemia: Onions with jaggery and water can improve anemic conditions as they add significant amounts of minerals, iron in particular, which help the body in producing new red blood cells.
6. Anti-inflammatory properties: The many anti-inflammatory agents in onions help reduce conditions such as arthritis and gout.
7. Maintains healthy blood pressure: Onions help to lower blood pressure naturally by thinning the blood, dissolving blood clots and ridding the blood of unhealthy fats.
8. Maintains blood sugar levels: Onions are great for diabetics as they bring down insulin levels and improve glucose intolerance.
9. Promotes digestive health: The fiber content of onions coupled with the various components of onions helps maintain a healthy digestive system, relieving chronic constipation and flatulence.
10. Fight cancer: Onions are rich in active compounds that have been shown to successfully inhibit the development and spread of cancerous cells, quercitin being one of those compounds.
11. Boosts immune system: Onions contain numerous phytochemicals along with vitamin C that boosts the immune system, helping it rid and fight off foreign bodies and toxins.
12. Prevent osteoporosis: Recently, a compound contained in onions has been identified to help in the prevention of osteoporosis by preventing the breaking down of bones.
13. Fights common ailments: Onion helps liquefy mucus and prevents its further formation and is also excellent against cold and coughs and other respiratory problems.
14. Boosts sexual drive: Onions have long been known to be a potent aphrodisiac and are second only to garlic.
15. Treating urinary disorders: Onions can help rid of the burning sensation that is experienced during urination. Water with onion is to be boiled till half the water is evaporated, water is separated and cooled and drunk. The anti-bacterial properties of onion help removing urinary tract infections and diseases.