Onions belong to the Allium family. They come in various size, shape and colour. Most of them have a pungent taste. The red, white, yellow and pink varieties are the most common. Even though most vegetables are very healthy, some vegetables are more healthy than others. Onion is one such vegetable.
1. Health benefits for cancer
New research suggests that dark red onions, which are known as the richest source of dietary flavonoids may help fight off cancer of the colon and the breast. “We found that onions are excellent at killing cancer cells,” said Abdulmonem Murayyan, a doctoral student at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. The findings, published in the journal, ‘Food Research International’, showed that red onions contain high levels of quercetin which has benefits such as lowering inflammation and fighting allergies and is also believed to have the power of stealing iron from cancer cells, which they use to grow. Quercetin has the power to shrink cancer cells.
The team tested five onion types and discovered that the Ruby Ring variety of onion – tall globe-shaped bulbs of dark red colour was the best. The red onion is said to be full of powerful compounds that help to kill tumours. Red onions also have high amounts of anthocyanin which boosts the scavenging properties of quercetin molecules and is also responsible for their dark red colour. When cells of colon and breast cancer were placed in direct contact with the quercetin extracted from the five different onion varieties, the team found them effective at killing cancer cells. “Onions activate pathways that encourage cancer cells to undergo cell death. They promote an unfavourable environment for cancer cells and disrupt communication between cancer cells and inhibits growth” according to Abdulmonem Murayyan
Hence any type of onion, regardless of its colour, may help to destroy cancer, though the red ones may be the most potent. Some are wary of the findings as there have been no human trials and it may be different when tried on humans as the human body is more complex.
2. Health Benefits for Dibetes
Onion has antidiabetic and antioxidant properties. The quercetin in onions fights against free radicals thus reducing the complications that arise due to diabetes. The antioxidants in onion also help regulate insulin synthesis and improve glucose metabolism. Therefore onion should be an important part of a diabetic diet. Remember that the onions should be eaten raw. Raw onion has a glycemic index of 10, which makes it a low GI food.
3. Health benefits igh for blood pressure and the heart
Onion may be beneficial in managing high blood pressure. Quercetin in Onion decreases blood pressure and protects the blood vessels from the damage caused by the free radicals. Quercetin is an antioxidant that has enormous benefits for improving heart functions. The anti-inflammatory properties of onion also help to prevent atherosclerosis. Onion is also said to have anti-hypertensive properties. Onions contain antioxidants and compounds that fight inflammation, decrease triglycerides and reduce cholesterol levels, all of which help to lower the risk of heart disease.
4. Onions may help to boost bone density
A study found that “Onion consumption seems to have a beneficial effect on bone density in perimenopausal and postmenopausal non-Hispanic white women 50 years and older. Furthermore, older women who consume onions most frequently may decrease their risk of hip fracture by more than 20% versus those who never consume onions.” Osteoporosis is a chronic inflammatory condition that is characterized by the loss of bone mineral density, which is thinning of bones as we age. Animal studies also show that white onions flakes or extracts reduced bone breakdown in rats. This was mainly due to a compound called GPCS, said the study.
5. Benefits of onion for the skin
Onions contain flavonoids, as well as antioxidant vitamins, A, C, and E. These nutrients, help to protect the skin from the effects of UV rays. Onions are a rich source of quercetin that helps to combat free radical damages, thus averting the signs of ageing. It helps those with acne, as it contains anti-inflammatory properties and antibacterial properties which fight acne and keep your skin clear and blemish-free. Onions are natural cleansers. The antioxidants in the onions work efficiently to remove the impurities in the skin and make your skin look brighter and feel better.
Onion has skin lightening properties too, Onion bleaches the skin and removes the dead skin layer, thus stimulating it and making it better. Applying onion or onion juice on the skin may be too harsh, hence it is better to use it as a face pack with some other ingredients.
Onion face pack
- 1 tsp onion juice
- i tsp chickpea flour or besan
- 1/2 tsp milk
Combine all the ingredients and apply them to your face as a face pack every day. Keep for 10-15 minutes and wash off. Try this for a few weeks and see the difference.
6. Onions benefit digestion
Onions are a rich source of fibre and prebiotics. Both fibre and prebiotics are very necessary for gut health. Onions are rich in prebiotic inulin and fructooligosaccharides, which help to increase the friendly bacteria in the gut and improve immune function. Also, a diet that is rich in prebiotics helps to improve the absorption of important minerals like calcium.
7. Onion benefits for hair loss
Onion juice is said to remedy hair loss. It is said to prevent premature greying of the hair and helps treat dandruff. Onions are rich in dietary sulfur. Sulfur is usually found in amino acids which are components of protein. We all know that keratin which is a protein is very rich in sulfur. Keratin helps to grow strong hair. Applying onion to the hair also improves blood circulation to the hair follicles thus resulting in improved hair growth. The sulfur in onions gives hair extra nutrition thus preventing hair loss and promoting hair growth. If you feel onion juice is too harsh on your skin, you can mix it with coconut oil or olive oil and use it on your scalp.
Should we have raw onions
You should eat onions raw rather than cooked to get the most sulfur compounds from them. You should eat at least one onion every day. One medium-sized onion is about one cup of onion when chopped. Cooked onions have health benefits too, but raw onions have a great many protective compounds, and eating raw onion is better because it has more sulfur and antioxidants to bestow.
Onion juice health benefits
Onion juice has all the benefits of eating a raw onion. Consuming onion juice with honey cures fever, cold and coughs immediately. It may also help in weight loss when you have this on an empty stomach. Drinking onion juice may also help reduce bone density loss. A study found that “Onion juice consumption showed a positive modulatory effect on the bone loss and BMD by improving antioxidant activities and thus can be recommended for treating various bone-related disorders, especially osteoporosis.” Onion juice also helps to control hair loss when applied to the hair.
To make onion juice, take
- 1 fresh onion
- Water as required
- 1-2 teaspoons of honey
- Peel and chop onion into small pieces.
- Add the chopped onion to the blender.
- Add some water and blend well.
- Extract the juice using a sieve.
- Add 1-2 teaspoons of honey and mix well and consume.
Side Effects of consuming onions
For people with Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or people with sensitive digestive tracts, onions may cause bloating, cramping, and gas. This is mainly because of the soluble fibers called fructans present in onions which are poorly absorbed in the small intestine.