9 Impressive Health Benefits of Onions
Onions are highly nutritious and have been associated with several benefits, including improved heart health, better blood sugar control, and increased bone density.
Though all vegetables are important for health, certain varieties offer unique benefits.
Onions are members of the Allium genus of flowering plants that also includes garlic, shallots, leeks, and chives.
These vegetables contain various vitamins, minerals, and potent plant compounds that have been shown to promote health in many ways.
In fact, the medicinal properties of onions have been recognized since ancient times, when they were used to treat ailments like headaches, heart disease, and mouth sores.
Here are 9 impressive health benefits of onions.
Onions are nutrient-dense, meaning they’re low in calories but high in vitamins and minerals.
One medium onion has just 44 calories but delivers a considerable dose of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
This vegetable is particularly high in vitamin C, a nutrient involved in regulating immune health, collagen production, tissue repair, and iron absorption.
Vitamin C also acts as a powerful antioxidant in your body, protecting your cells against damage caused by unstable molecules called free radicals.
Lastly, they’re a good source of potassium, a mineral which many people are lacking.
In fact, the average potassium intake of Americans is less than half the recommended daily value (DV) of 4,700 milligrams (mg).
Normal cellular function, fluid balance, nerve transmission, kidney function, and muscle contraction all require potassium.
Onions are low in calories yet high in nutrients, including vitamin C, B vitamins, and potassium.
Q: Are raw onions more nutritious than cooked onions?
A: Haley Hooks, a dietetic intern at Tufts’ Frances Stern Nutrition Center, answers: “Onions are nothing to cry over. These flavorful bulbs are an excellent source of healthful chemicals: vitamin C, flavonoids, antioxidants, and sulfur compounds. Onions are nutrient powerhouses, whether eaten cooked or raw; however, raw onions have higher levels of sulfur compounds.
“Why do we care about sulfur in onions? Onions form sulfur compounds through an enzymatic reaction when cut or crushed. Studies show these sulfur compounds may protect against cancer, help lower blood sugar, and reduce the production of unhealthy cholesterol in the body. These sulfur compounds may also block platelet-clot formation and promote the breakdown of blood clots, which helps to lower the risk for heart disease and stroke. Eat your onions raw for maximum sulfur content, as cooking onions significantly decreases the quantity of the compound. However, these sulfur compounds have a downside. They give the onion its pungent odor and cause you to become teary-eyed when you slice it.
“In addition to sulfur, onions have another healthy trait going for them: The outer layers contain quercetin, an antioxidant that fights harmful free radicals in the body. Scientists believe that lightly cooking onions may increase the concentration of this nutrient.
“So, what is the bottom line? If you like the taste of raw onions, try adding sliced onion to salads, burgers, or sandwiches. If you can’t stomach the pungent taste of raw onions, lightly cooked onions still provide a myriad of health benefits.”