Onion benefits: It says in the fourth book of Moses, the one called Numbers, that while the Israelites wandered in the Sinai desert, they yearned for the foods they had eaten in Egypt.
Specifically, they mentioned onions, garlic, and leeks. It is plausible, then, that onions, together with other vegetables, made up an essential part of the diet of these pyramid-building slaves of more than 3500 years ago.
However, onions provide few calories to the diet, particularly when one is engaged in intense physical labor, nor can it be said that they have an incredibly delicious flavor. Therefore, it seems that this group of rough slaves valued and missed onions primarily for their medicinal value.
How many of them must have come down with bronchitis or pneumonia while sloshing in the cold mud to make adobe bricks. In the onion, as in other allium loaded foods (garlic and leeks), the Israelites possibly found the many onion benefits that helped them avoid and cure respiratory disorders and gave them vigor and health.
Today, onions continue as one of nature’s most healing foods.
Onion Benefits: Preparation and Dosage
- Raw: This is among the best way to eat onions, but for this, they must be fresh. The piquancy is attenuated somewhat by washing them for a few minutes and adding lemon. Those suffering from gastric ulcer or gastritis should eat onions, either boiled or baked.
- Boiled in water: Their piquancy disappears, and they are better tolerated, but their medicinal effects are also diminished. Cooking time should be short, less than a minute, and the resulting broth should be used, as well.
- Baked: Baked onions are delicious; although the longer they are in the oven, the less effective they are as a medicine.
- Onion syrup: Boil several slices of onion. After mashing them to a paste, add a few spoonsful of honey or brown sugar.
- Onion juice: This is prepared by soaking a chopped raw onion in a glass of water for several hours.
- French: Oignon
- Spanish: Cebolla
- German: Winterzwiebel
- Description: The bulb of the onion plant (‘Allium cepa’ L.), of the botanical family Liliaceae. This bulb is not the root of the plant but somewhat an underground thickening of the stem. The true roots are formed of fibers on the lesser part of the bulb.
- Habitat: Onions are cultivated in fertile soils and temperate climates on the five continents. The principal producing nations are China, India, United States, Russia, Japan, and Spain.
Eating raw onions can stop or relieve an asthma attack, thanks to its anti-allergic and bronchodilator abilities. These effects can last up to 12 hours. Inhaling the onions essential oil is also beneficial and is more appropriate for children.
Onion Benefits: Medicinal Properties and Indications
No particular nutrient stands out when one examines the composition of the onion. The 38 kcal/100 g that it provides comes primarily from its glucose, saccharose, and other carbohydrates (6.83%). Proteins are present in a small proportion (1.16%) but noteworthy for a vegetable. Its fat content is negligible (0.16%).
All vitamins are present (except B12), although in small amounts. The same is the case with minerals, among which only potassium (157 mg/100 g) is worth mentioning. Among trace elements, the most abundant is sulfur, which forms part of the onion’s volatile essence.
The onion’s mineral salts are converted to carbonates of alkaline reaction when passed to the blood, which explains this bulb’s remarkable alkalizing effect. Alkalizing foods facilitate the elimination of waste products from the body, which are all acidic.
In contrast to its relatively unimportant nutrients content, the onion is rich in non-nutritive substances of significant physiological activity such as:
- Essential oils: Among the many onion benefits, this oil is responsible for its typical odor. It is highly volatile and evaporates quickly. Its composition is complicated since it is formed from a mixture of more than one hundred different substances, among which allyl disulfide and thiosulfinate stand out.
- Flavonoids: These glycosides improve blood circulation, prevent blood clots (reduce platelet stickiness), and block the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins, a type of fat in the blood responsible for arteriosclerosis. Onions are rich in quercetin, one of the most active flavonoids. A study conducted at the University of Wageningen (The Netherlands) demonstrates that quercetin is well absorbed in the intestine regardless of whether the onion is raw or cooked. The flavonoids and the substances that form this essential oil are attributed to most of the onion benefits: antibiotic, decongestant, antiasthmatic, heart and arterial protector, diuretic, and anticarcinogenic.
Onion benefits result from many other non-nutritive substances whose actions are not defined as the previous two groups. Among them are:
- Enzymes: The onion is rich in enzymatic substances such as oxidase and diastase, which stimulate digestive processes.
- Glycoquine: Dr. Schneider defines this as a vegetable hormone that reduces the blood glucose level. This hormone explains the favorable effects on diabetics.
- Vegetable fiber: Fiber is one of the onion benefits that enable a lipid-lowering and anti-diabetic action.
Many onion benefits have been described, and they have been recommended for various disorders. Since the essential oil is very volatile and rapidly impregnates all the body tissues, it is logical to believe that it works on multiple organs and systems. However, here are those dietary and therapeutic applications that have been scientifically investigated and proven: Respiratory disorders, bronchial asthma, arteriosclerosis, coronary heart disease, elevated blood triglycerides, kidney disorders, diabetes, liver disorders, and stomach cancer.
Onion Nutrition Facts and Composition
|ENERGY||38.0 kcal = 158 kj|
|VITAMIN B1||0.042 mg|
|VITAMIN B2||0.020 mg|
|NIACIN||0.431 mg NE|
|VITAMIN B6||0.116 mg|
|VITAMIN C||6.40 mg|
|VITAMIN E||0.130 -TE|
|TOTAL FAT||0.160 g|
|SATURATED FAT||0.026 g|
The Welsh Onion
The Welsh onion is an intermediate species (Allium fistulosum L.) between the onion and the leek. It is tenderer than the common onion. In addition to the bulb, you can also eat the leaves and the stalk.
It contains the same nutrients and onion benefits as its counterpart but in somewhat lower concentrations. Its medicinal applications are the same as for the onion. It is usually eaten raw in a salad or lightly toasted with an appropriate sauce.
|Spanish||Cebolleta, cebolla, inglesa|
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Foods and Their Healing Power.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Foods and Their Healing Power. Trans. Annette Melgosa. Vol. 2. Chai Wan: Editorial Safeliz, 2005. 142, 143, 144. Print.