Onions are a great way to add flavour to your food. The health benefits of onions are pretty impressive too. It is also one plant you can get fresh from the farm well into November. Onions, or allium cepa, are a bulb plant that are packed with antioxidants, can help prevent diseases, and lower blood sugars. Here’s a look at why onions may be a great addition to your diet.
Health Benefits Of Onions
While onions are mostly water, they are about 4% sugar. Just think about how easily onions caramelize when sautéed. This is because of the sugars in the onions.
Though onions contain glucose, fructose, and sucrose, they are not bad. They are a good source of vitamin B6, folate, potassium, and manganese. They’re a very good source of Vitamin C, and also contain protein and dietary fibre.
Interestingly, despite the sugar content in onions, one human study showed that consuming 100g of onion a day resulted in lower blood glucose levels in type 1 and type 2 diabetics. There are many studies showing its effect on type 2 diabetes, but this study also showed positive results for type 1 diabetics. This is important because it shows how the carbs in onions do not have a typical bodily response.
Onions are a great source of antioxidants. Vitamin C is one of these antioxidants. It helps contribute to your overall immune system and helps keep you healthy. It also is important for dealing with stress.
Quercetin is an important antioxidant for heart health. It decreases blood pressure and can reduce the risk of a stroke and heart attack. Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in North America, so it is important to eat foods that regulate blood pressure. Quercetin is one of the best antioxidants you can feed your heart.
Onions are anti-inflammatory. This is one large benefit we should look for in food. Prolonged inflammation can result in heart disease, cancer, dementia, and many other serious diseases. Having a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods helps to keep the stress down in the body, and keeps you healthy.
Onions are also potent in sulfur compounds. These compounds have many cancer-preventative properties. Thiosulfinates is one compound of these compounds. It can prevent blood clots, and stop harmful microorganisms from growing in humans. However, it has a very different effect on animals.
Onions are not safe for many animals. While we’re able to digest them, they can be deadly for dogs, and cats. Onion, garlic, leek, chives, shallots, and scallions are poisonous for many animals. Onions cause the breakdown of red blood cells, causing hemolytic anemia.
The health benefits of onions include many protective properties. Onions have anticarcinogenic properties, antiplatelet activity, antithrombotic activity, antiasthmatic, and antibiotic effects. It keeps your system clear of harmful compounds and toxins.
Onions have also shown to improve bone density. One study showed that onion consumption decreased the risk of a hip fracture by 20% in women over 50. This is great because osteoporosis is a major problem, resulting from misplaced calcium. While many try to improve bone density with calcium supplementation, this can be dangerous. Vitamin K2 is one great way to improve bone density, and an onion-rich diet will further improve bone strength.
Onions can be upsetting, and I’m not talking about how they make you cry. Onions contain Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides, And Polyols, (FODMAPs). These short-chain carbohydrates can be hard for some people to digest. They can result in bloating, gas, cramping, or diarrhea. This is why onions may not be great for everyone. If you have a sensitive gut, onions may not be the best food choice.
The reason you cry when you cut onions is because you are releasing the lachrymatory factor (LF). The gas gets into your eyes, irritates them, and your body responds with tears to flush out the gas. These gases are found in largest quantity towards the root of the bulb.
The health benefits of onions for humans are impressive. While onions may not be right for everyone, it is a great whole food, packed with important nutrients. Remember, these are good for humans, not for your pets.