“Life is like an onion. You peel it year by year and sometimes cry.” That is probably the best definition for onions both in the kitchen and in real life. The word onion actually came from the word union because of the way its layers are packed together tightly. Onions are one of the most consumed plants by human beings. You can eat them both raw and cooked, independently or with other food and they will still be great. So, why are onions so popular? Well, the truth is that there isn’t anything in the world to replace them because their history and health benefits are invaluable to humans.
Onions Help Improve Heart Health
Onions have sulfur compounds which are known as natural blood thinners. The compounds prevent your blood platelets from aggregating and also reduce the bad cholesterol in your blood. Onions have a particular flavonoid known as quercetin which is known to help reduce your blood pressure. The combination reduces the risk of getting a heart attack and also keep your blood vessels from narrowing which results in a healthier heart in the long term.
Onions Improve Your Immunity
Your heart I not the only beneficiary of the anti-inflammatory properties of the compounds found in onions. Onions contain sulfides which help your body synthesise essential proteins needed in rebuilding your cells when attacked by viruses and bacteria. Onions also contain antioxidants including Vitamin C which helps your body manufacture more white blood cells to points of infection to fight foreign bodies.
They Are Healthier Eaten Raw Than Cooked
Cooking onions brings out the best of their aroma and taste of food but that is not their healthiest version. Sulfur compounds change the structure and lose potency when cooked although some benefits are still retained. Vitamins may also dissolve in water and evaporate when you cook onions. It is, therefore, healthier to eat your onions raw whenever you can to get the best of their cholesterol-reducing benefits as well as preventing blood clots.
They Were Used As Medicine By Vikings
History doesn’t paint Vikings as the best model citizens but they were actually the inventors of some of the greatest technologies of the 1100s. Vikings used onions for multiple purposes and medication was one of them. When someone was wounded, they would feed them to a strong-smelling onion soup. If the wound had the smell of onions, then it would be determined that the wound is severe or probably fatal.
They Are One Of The Oldest Foods Cultivated By Humans
The earliest evidence of human beings cultivating onions goes back to 5,000 years ago in India and China. The Egyptians were also great lovers of onions and believed to have cultivated them in 3500 BC. Some Egyptian Pharaohs actually paid their soldiers and labourers using onions because they were such a valuable commodity. It is therefore fair to say that the story of the onion is as deep as that of human beings.
They Help Improve digestion
Gut health is very important for your general health which is why you need to add items that improve your gut health to your regular diet whenever possible. Onions are rich in probiotics which help bring a balance of good bacteria in your gut. The fibre in onions also helps probiotics grow and also helps you regulate the absorption of sugar from your gut which helps regulate blood sugar.
They Are Good For Weight Loss
Don’t go chewing on onions all day to lose weight but adding them to your regular weight loss diet will boost your efforts. Onions help burn cholesterol in your body which is one of the best ways to lose weight. Their high content of probiotics helps break down excessive sugar before it is absorbed which helps prevent belly fat. Onions are also a low-calorie food that helps keep your sugar in check while making you feel full leading you to eat fewer calories.
Green Onions Aren’t Really Green
Scallions and green onions are some of the most widely consumed onion varieties in the world. Now, mature onions are usually green or red in colour. Green onions are just a version of these two which are harvested before budding hence the ovular shape rather than round. Scallions are harvested earlier than green onions. There is no evidence that they are healthier than mature onions or vice versa though so you can enjoy whichever version of onions you love best.
When Cut, Onions Create Sulfuric Acid In Your Eyes
Crying when cutting onions is one of the most interesting things about onions. The funny part is that your eyes don’t even need to contact with the juices in the onion to release the tears. Onions naturally absorb amino acid sulfoxides from the soil and store them as compounds known as sulfenic acids. Over time, these compounds become gasses in the pores of the onion. When you cut into the onion, you release the gas which wafts into your eyes and reacts with water in the eyes forming sulfuric acid. The tears are meant to wash the stinging acid away.
They May Help Reduce Risk Of Getting Certain Cancers
A 2006 study discovered that onions and garlic help reduce the risk of getting colorectal, kidney, breast, ovarian and laryngeal cancers. The root of the cancer-fighting properties are not clear but the study found that the more onions the people consumed every week resulted in a reduced risk of cancer. There is more research to be done but the benefits are definitely worth a shot.
If you know of any other dietary facts about onions do let us know about them in the comments below.