The Onion – A Complete Overview and Its Health Benefits

An onion a day will keep the doctor away – this could be coined as the “poor man’s apple”. This vegetable will bring you to tears or make you keep your distance! However, it is one of the friendliest vegetables that our body needs. Please keep reading for your benefit and pass this information to your friends and family.

The humble onion is a member of the Allium genus.  It is widely cultivated for food for humans. It is a biennial or a perennial, but is usually treated as an annual plant and harvested in its first growing season, closely related to other super foods like chives, garlic, leeks and scallions.

The onion can be found in colors of red (purple), white and yellow.

Get to Know the Benefits of the Onion for a More Active Life

One of the oldest cultivated plants required for health is the onion – botanical name Allium Cepa. Onions have a rich source of vitamin A, C, E and B6, iron, folate, sulphur, fiber and potassium. However, they are low in fat, cholesterol and sodium

The varied compounds of onions (phytochemicals including the flavonoid quercetin and allyl disulphide) help us in keeping us healthy.   See below:

  • Purifies the blood – the body functions better
  • Boosts bone health – protects from Osteoporosis and atherosclerosis.
  • Protects against cancer – of head, neck and colon
  • Rejuvenates Cell Health – quicker recovery from illness
  • Protects against diabetes – increases insulin in the body and treats diabetes by controlling the sugar levels in the blood.
  • Aids in heart health – bad cholesterol is removed.       It protects the good cholesterol and keeps one safe from coronary diseases.
  • Prevents inflammation – from arthritis in the joints.

 

Onions have a wealth of health beneficial plant compound properties. These compounds (polyphenol) prevent diseases and are also considered good as:

  1. Anti-aging properties
  2. Anti-allergic
  3. Anti-histaminic (histamine is a chemical produced by the body that dilates the blood vessels).
  4. Anti-inflammatory
  5. Anti-oxidant

Onions are more beneficial (higher concentration of polyphenols) than carrots, garlic, leeks, red bell peppers and tomatoes. The anti-oxidant (which is polyphenol flavonoids called quercetin), many researchers believe prevent histamine release – making these rich foods “natural anti-histamines”.

Onions are rich in sulfur – containing compounds that give them their characteristic odor and much of their health boosting potential.

How to Consume the Onion

Onions can be eaten raw in salads, sautéed for various food dishes, used to thicken curries. It provides a savory goodness that blends with most other foods. It is ranked as one of the top 10 most commonly eaten vegetable. Most Indian kitchens must have this vegetable in abundance. To get best results the average consumption per person should be 100 – 150 grams per day and as soon as cut.

The red onion is more pungent and spicy. If you require it to be less sharp – soak the red onions in water for about 30 – 60 minutes before cutting/slicing. When soaked the skin is easier to remove.

The yellow onions are hardy and can be stored for a longer time. They turn a rich, dark brown when caramelised.  Their flavor is complex and spicy due to the sulphur than in the other varieties. It is more difficult to eat raw.

It gives the French Onion soup its sweet flavor and is used for stocks, sauces, stews and can be sautéed for dishes that take a longer time to cook on low heat.

The white onions are the least common. They have a shorter storage life and must be kept in the fridge.

They are sharper than the yellow onions. They are crisp, clean and are great eaten raw or cooked. These are best used for Mexican food and decorations.

How is the Onion Cultivated?

The onion plant has blue-green fan of hollow leaves which are seen above the ground. The bulb is at the base of the plant and swells while growing.   The vegetable is harvested when the foliage dies down after a specific period. The vegetable is sun dried and the outer skin becomes brittle.

Onions were used in Egyptian Civilisation

There is a reference to the onion in the Bible “We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions and the garlic.” (Numbers C 11: Vs 5).  Onions were found on Egyptian mummies. In Egypt, onions were considered to be an object of worship. The onion symbolised eternity to the Egyptians, who buried onions with the Pharaohs. The Egyptians saw eternal life in the anatomy of the onion because of its circle-within-a-circle structure.

Want to Know the Onion’s Health Value?

Onions help in immunity building. They regulate the blood sugar and encourage production of good cholesterol.   They play a significant role in preventing cancer and provide pain relief when the onion juice is applied on honey bee stings and insect bites. On consumptions of onions they scavenge for free radicals in the body. (A scavenger in chemistry is a chemical substance added to a mixture in order to remove or de-activate impurities and unwanted reaction products).

14 Tips for Using the Onion for Beauty and Other Purposes

1. The onion is a powerful antiseptic against bacteria and other skin infections such as acne and pimples.   The Vitamin A, C, E and antioxidants give a healthy and glowing skin. Topical and consumption of the onion provide numerous benefits to the skin.

A mixture of 1 tablespoon each of onion juice and olive oil is to be applied to the face (avoid eyes) and washed after 20 minutes. Repeat this exercise daily for wonder results.

The above vitamins fight the damage caused by harmful UV rays and keep the skin soft and supple. It prevents free radical damage for premature aging of the skin.

2.  The application of onion juice on the scalp rids the head of lice and dandruff.

3.  To cure problems of the ear and eye, onion juice can be used. Clear onion juice is to be used with a medicine dropper. Use slices of onions over the infected eye sty to get rid of pain.

4.  Tooth aches and tooth decay will subside with the help of the onion. Chewing onions for at least three minutes is very effective in killing the germs in that mouth that cause toothache.

5.  Some types of moles/warts on the skin can be removed with the application of onion juice.

6.  Onions fried in sesame or castor oil can be used to heal any aches and pains, by topical application.

7.  To remove dark patches/pigments from the face, apply onion juice mixed with turmeric.

8.  Inhale a cut onion to stop or slow down bleeding through the nose.

9.  Onions cure insomnia and sleeping disorders to have good sleep at night. Onions can be eaten at night during dinner with your favorite recipe. (The suggestion is good as long as you are not dating and/or alone in the bed).

10. Onions aid the healing of burnt skin (it will cause irritation but will heal very effectively).

11.  For a quick healing medicine for fever, common cold, cough, sore throat, allergies consume a couple of onions. Keep a slice of onion on the forehead of the fever patient.

12.  A cut onion in a sick patient’s room will absorb the germs.

13.  The onion juice in facial masks lightens dark pigmentation.

14.  Onions can be effective as an anti-fungal agent.

Consumption of Onions Helps in Many Ways

  • Good memory and strong nervous system.
  • Rejuvenation of body tissues.
  • Inflammation from arthritis in the joints. Protects from osteoporosis and atherosclerosis.
  • The digestive system function improves by increasing the digestive juices.   It is an anti-biotic, antiseptic, antimicrobial and has carminative properties.

 

Recommendation for a Healthy Life

Having neglected my health for over 40 years, and developing blood pressure, diabetes, hypothyroidism, osteoarthritis, obesity, and having tried all other medication, I have now resorted to the humble onion to help rejuvenate and restore my health. Life is all about hope – try this vegetable and let us have your feedback. Please ensure you are not allergic to onions.

Additional Reading:

Onions–a global benefit to health.

Onion Health Research

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4 thoughts on “The Onion – A Complete Overview and Its Health Benefits

  • August 18, 2015 at 12:38 pm
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    This is a well written blog on one of the most widely used vegetable in our food. I always knew that Onions are good but what I didn't know was, It is more than just Good. This can be kept as a handbook to refer to on the usage of Onions.

  • August 18, 2015 at 1:16 pm
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    "Poor Man’s Apple" Articulated very well. I never know that we have these many health benefits in the humble vegetable.

  • August 18, 2015 at 2:02 pm
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    Good one! Great to know that onion has so many advantages and is much needed for our body.
    A vegetable which costs cheaper and has multiple health benefits.

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