Onions have been popular for a long time. As early as the Egyptians of 2500 BC, we can see evidence that the onion was worshiped. It was said to represent eternity due to its concentric layer construction. We cannot promise that eating onion will give you eternal life, but it can improve the quality of your life.
Onions are highly nutritious, with good amounts of protein and fiber, as well as vitamin C, selenium, folate, and various antioxidants. Even the tear-inducing sulfuric compounds in onions, especially allicin, provide health benefits such as reduced cancer risk. Eating a little onion every day can really make for a good body.
Today, onions are one of the most versatile ingredients, appearing in many tasty recipes. You may not even know they are there in many cases, but we can guarantee that there is a certain amount of onion in most of the foods you eat, even if it is just the onion powder in your favorite spice mix.
So before you say, “I don’t like onions,” and click on another article, you need to know that there are many ways to include onion in your diet, and many reasons why you really should. Some of these, especially number 5, are really amazing.
1. Lower risk of cancer
Onions contain certain organic sulfur compounds that give them their distinctive smell, but they also work to detoxify the carcinogens we consume every day. That translates to a lower risk of cancer over the course of your life. Research suggests that the more onions you eat, the greater the protection.
But before starting an onion-based diet, you have to know that combining onions with turmeric has a synergistic effect and that garlic offers similar protection. It’s still a good idea to eat onion every day, but you can add these other ingredients to extend the benefits, rather than eating onions all the time.
2. Lower risk of diabetes
Onions are also great for reducing your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This form of diabetes occurs when insulin becomes ineffective at processing glucose. It usually occurs due to a diet that is chronically high in sugar.
When you eat onion, it increases the amount of insulin available in your system. The allyl propyl disulfide in onions reaches some of the places in the liver where insulin has been inactivated, thereby leaving more insulin in the bloodstream to process glucose.
3. Better cardiovascular health
Onions are rich in an antioxidant called quercetin, which, like all antioxidants, benefits health by neutralizing free radicals that otherwise cause cell damage. But quercetin is special because it keeps your arteries soft and elastic.
It also plays a role in regulating blood pressure and lowers the level of LDL cholesterol in people at risk for cardiovascular disorders. Eating some onion every day, therefore, supports cardiovascular health and minimizes the risk of heart disease.
4. Improved immune function
Quercetin in onions does more than support heart health. It works in conjunction with the selenium that onions also contain to strengthen the immune system. Selenium and quercetin have been found to reduce inflammation throughout the body.
This powerful combination also appears to moderate immune function, stimulating a response and then reducing it again as needed. Overactive immune function can actually cause a host of problems, not the least of which is the chronic inflammatory disease of arthritis.
5. Allergy relief
Seasonal allergies cause itchy eyes, a runny nose, and a sore throat. They are really uncomfortable and lead many people to rely on allergy medications for relief. But these drugs come with their own side effects that can also be worrisome.
The next time you suffer from allergies, try eating some onion before taking a pill. Quercetin blocks inflammatory and allergy-causing compounds and therefore can provide a significant reduction in symptoms. If you really can’t stand the taste of onions, try quercetin supplements.
6. Lower risk of food poisoning
You may have heard that cut onions are the unrecognized source of food poisoning in all kinds of foods. History says that onions are so prone to bacterial growth that it is not safe to cut them and then store them for a long time.
But don’t believe everything you hear, because the truth is the exact opposite. Onions contain antibacterial compounds that slow bacterial growth. Not only are they safe to cut and store for up to 7 days, but eating onion with any meal makes you less likely to get sick from other ingredients.
7. Reduced risk of blood clots
Clotting is an important function for the blood because it seals the lesions and prevents excessive blood loss. However, when a clot forms within an artery or vein, it can be fatal. Technically called a thrombus, a blood clot in the wrong place can block critical blood flow and deprive other parts of the body of oxygen and nutrients they need. A thrombus can also migrate to the heart or lungs and cause death.
Onions contain something called rutin that can prevent these dangerous clots from forming. Interestingly, clots that form in an artery are rich in platelets, but those found in veins are high in fibrin. Routine has been found to dissolve both types.
8. Improved sleep and mood
There are many chemical processes involved in sleep. Serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine work together to stabilize mood, regulate appetite, and promote healthy sleep. But certain chemicals can hinder your ability to sleep soundly, such as homocysteine, an amino acid made when the body breaks down protein.
Too much homocysteine hinders the production of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Onions support healthy sleep because they contain a good amount of folate, which can stop the buildup of homocysteine in the system.
Evidence suggests that you get the most health benefit from onions if you eat them raw. However, not everyone is in the mood for a raw onion, as this is when it has the strongest flavor. Raw onions are responsible for the dreaded “onion breath” that we all want to avoid in public. Fortunately, you can still see positive results from eating them cooked. Cooked onions are mild and sweet in flavor.
If the crunch of the onions is what bothers you the most, try grating them in your meals. Your mouth won’t even notice they’re there, but your body will. Onion powder is another option that offers the benefit of raw onion, but in less quantity. As a last resort, look for quercetin supplements at the store. Whichever way you consume them, onions are a boon to your overall health and are well worth eating every day.