Eat Veggies, that’s what your parents keep on telling everytime and we as a kid always avoid it and want some junk food. Vegetables not only fill your stomach but they also carry a lot of nutritional as well as medicinal properties. Few of them are used in ayurveda for treatment of many types of ailment. Especially raw onion benefits are mentioned in ancient ayurveda. Onions as a native below the earth comes in various colours and sizes. However, the most common ones are red, white and yellow. The taste also varies from being sweet to stingy as part of the content. It is believed that onions are native to central asia. However it has reached all over the world either in the medicinal form or as an important food ingredient.
Onions bring tears to your eyes. This is because of an enzyme that converts the amino acids sulfoxides into sulfenic acid. This unstable molecule rearranges itself and comes in contact with air which causes irritation of lachrymal glands and produces tears. But you can avoid this fact if one knows the importance of onion. Let us deep dive into this teary world and know what can be the benefits of onion and possible side effects.
Nutritional Benefits In General
There is a rising trend of eating colourful food due to the belief that they carry an array of vitamins and minerals. People tend to believe that food with pale colour will lack nutrients. This is however, not true. They can be the real storehouse of nutrients. All kinds of onions carry substantial amounts of Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Thiamin and essential elements like potassium, calcium, copper and manganese. They have high water content and can be a good source of low carbohydrate food.
Special Health Benefits Of Onions
As mentioned earlier, onions are full of nutrition but they have some special powers also and are used for treatment of various diseases. They have a special mention in ayurveda. Let us explore their medicinal characteristics.
- Improves Cardiac Function : They are loaded with antioxidants and antiinflammatory substances. They remove the bad cholesterol from the bloodstream and decrease the levels of triglycerides. This will reduce the pressure on the blood vessels and may lower the risk of heart disease. Onions boast the presence of Quercetin, an anticoagulant and a flavonoid antioxidant. It acts as a vasodilator and removes clots from the blood. This improves the condition of the blood vessel and helps in blood pressure management. There are several studies which support the above goodness.
- Prevents Cellular Damage : Oxidation in cells and tissue carries non specific damage. This can lead to several complications like tissue burn, cancer, diabetes and cirrhosis and inflammation of vital organs. This can be prevented by use of antioxidants. Onion carries loads of antioxidants. As much as some 25 variants of flavonoids are present in onions. Anthocyanin, a special plant pigment from the flavonoid family which is responsible for the red colour is a powerful antioxidant. Multiple studies support that people who consume anthocyanin in some form have lower chances of heart disease.
- Anticarcinogenic Property : Onion belongs to the Allium genus and like its relative garlic has some anticancer properties and can be used for the treatment of colorectal cancers and certain stomach cancers.The cancer fighting properties are attributed to onion A, a sulfur containing compound which shows to reduce the spread of tumour. Lab studies have shown promising results in reducing the spread of ovarian and lung cancer.
Get an expert opinion from the expert dietician and ayurvedic practitioner on how to include onion in your diet in the correct way.
- Blood Sugar Management : It may help in treating type 2 diabetes. Lab study in 42 people showed that eating 100gm of fresh red onion reduced the fasting blood sugar by 40mg/dl after 4 hours. Similar kinds of results have been obtained in animal studies also. Antioxidants like quercetin can slow down the oxidation process in bodies and interact with digestive system organs and control the blood glucose level.
- Improves Bone Density : There are several studies to believe that onions are a good source of calcium and may help in increasing bone density and support strong bones. Onions may help in reducing the oxidative stress, boost antioxidant levels and decrease the chances of osteoporosis.
- Antibacterial Properties : Onion can tackle possible dangerous bacteria like Escherichia Coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus and Bacillus cereus. Onion extract shows promising results in inhibiting cholera infection. Lab studies have been done on organisms like Helicobacter pylori and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus with Quercetin. It shows moderate inhibition of these organisms.
- Boost Digestive Health : Onions have rich content of fibers, antioxidants and prebiotics which are good for intestines. Gut bacteria breakdown these prebiotics and create short chain fatty acids. Prebiotics help in absorption of essential elements. Onions are rich in prebiotics like inulin and fructooligosaccharides.
- Onion Juice Benefits : Honey and Onion juice benefits include in treating fever, common cold and allergies. They are also used for hair loss treatment and improve the quality of hair. Local household therapies include onion juice for the treatment of dandruff, alopecia, scalp infection, brittle hair and prevents premature graying of hair.
How To Include Onion In Your Diet
Onions and potatoes have become common in most dishes all around the world. They are added in savory dishes and are either eaten raw or cooked along with other ingredients. Here are some bites on how one can add onion in their food.
- Salads : They are widely used in salad preparation and can be eaten raw with a pinch of salt.
- The caramelized version is used in many bakery products.
- Marinating agent: They are used to marinate mutton, chicken and other kinds of meat.
- Egg omelette and frittatas add taste to any indian household breakfast or evening snacks.
- Onion in pickled form can add spice and flavour to your side dish.
- Onions are used in fibre rich salad mixed with chickpeas, sprouted legumes.
Possible Side Effects Of Eating Onion
Although there are many benefits of onion, there are few side effects also. Eating a lot of onion can irritate the small intestine and cause gastrointestinal distress in a few. People with weak gastrointestinal tract can lead to conditions like flatulence, bloating, diarrhoea. Onion in powdered form also may cause reactions. Onion juice is often used as a hair growing ingredient and unknowingly people having allergic skin can come in contact with that. People may suffer from eczema or skin irritation. So if anyone has such risk or allergy please consult your doctor before taking it into your diet.
The health benefits of onions are numerous and can be used for many ailments. Adding onion to one’s diet is an easier option to boost one’s health. Onions can surely make you carry and give bad breath but it can also be a powerhouse of nutrients. However, one needs to control the urge of eating excess onion or else we know what will happen.