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They might make you cry, but you will only laugh in the long run. Such wonderful the benefits of onions are. And some of them are downright surprising.
Keep reading this post. And one thing’s for sure – you are going to thank us. No doubt.
Eating vegetables is a good choice regarding your health. Many people like to eat raw onions whereas others hate the smell that comes out as a result of eating raw onions.
You may be surprised to know that eating these little bulbs can provoke many healthy factors in your body not to mention that you can also prevent many diseases.
Onions contain several medicinal properties combined with vitamins and minerals and have been used as the main ingredient of the kitchen since ancient times.
Let’s find out more about the hidden benefits of eating onions, its side effects and which type of onion is more beneficial.
Benefits of Eating Onions:
1. Fight Cancer
As per a study conducted by the University of Guelph, red onions are the most effective in destroying breast and colon cancer cells (3). These onions have high levels of quercetin and anthocyanin – two compounds that contribute to this characteristic. Onions activate the pathways that provoke the cancer cells to kill themselves. They make the environment unfavorable for cancer cells to communicate, and this inhibits their growth.
It was also found that people with the highest consumption of onions had the lowest cancer rates. As a preventative measure, you can have your burgers garnished with red onions.
2. Improve Heart Health
The flavonoids in red onions can contribute to heart health. Onions are also rich in organosulfur, which can help prevent heart disease. According to one Argentine study, intake of the organosulfur compounds found in onions can cut the risk of cardiovascular disease. Onions contain thiosulfinates that act as natural blood thinners and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
The quercetin in onions also has the potential to fight heart disease. It offers both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that promote heart health. Onions are also a part of the French Paradox – they are an important part of French cuisine and are thought to be responsible for the low incidences of heart disease among the French despite their high-calorie diet.
Onions can also improve cholesterol levels, and this ultimately benefits the heart. As per a report by the Cambridge University Press, the flavonoids in onions help lower the levels of LDL (the bad cholesterol) in obese people.
Onions also prevent the blood platelets from sticking each other, which can lead to clotting and eventually, heart attacks. They also can prevent high blood pressure, thereby averting heart danger. Another study on rabbits showed that onions could prevent atherosclerosis. They achieve this by enhancing fibrinolytic (a process that results in the removal of small blood clots) activity.
3. Lower Blood Sugar Levels
One study has proven that onion extract can help lower blood sugar levels. The study was conducted on diabetic rats, and the results were encouraging. One of the sulfur compounds in onions (S-methyl cysteine) and quercetin can have beneficial effects on blood sugar. However, it was found that onions exhibited a positive effect only when taken along with metformin, the antidiabetic drug.
In yet another study, polyphenols (especially the ones in onions) were found to play a role in glycemic control.
4. Promote Healthy Digestion
The digestive benefits of onions can be attributed to inulin, a fiber present in the vegetable. Inulin acts as a food source for the beneficial bacteria in the intestines. Consuming this fiber helps your body maintain good levels of healthy bacteria. However, the thiosulfinates in onions can cause harm to these beneficial bacteria (as they have antibacterial properties). Hence, if you are sensitive to the antibacterial properties of onions, do consult your doctor.
Another soluble fiber in onions, oligofructose (which is a sub-group of inulin), was found to prevent and treat different types of diarrhea. And the phytochemicals in onions can cut the risk of gastric ulcers.
The natural prebiotics in onions can also help ease constipation. They are also believed to help treat stomach ache and stomach worms, though more research is warranted.
Onion is known to cause migraines and flatulence in some people. Consult your doctor if this happens.
5. Maintain Bone Health
Preliminary research suggests that onions can prevent age-related osteoporosis. According to Swiss researchers, a compound in white onions (called GPCS) can reduce bone loss. Though the study was conducted on rats, it does hold promise for humans.
Another study revealed that women who ate onions regularly had 5 percent more bone mass than those who ate less. Onion consumption was also found to have a beneficial effect on the bone density of women older than 50 years.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, quercetin in onions can inhibit the activity of leukotrienes, prostaglandins, and histamines (all of which cause inflammation) in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Onion intake was also found to help treat joint pains.
6. Prevent Inflammation And Other Allergies
We have already seen quercetin (and other flavonoids) in onions can help prevent inflammation. Onions also treat allergies by preventing the cells from releasing histamine.
Cooking with onions can help open and drain your sinuses. And the antihistamine properties of quercetin can also aid in reducing nasal congestion. Even eating a raw onion at night can help relieve congestion – the sulfur-compounds in the onion can break down the mucous.
Onions also possess antibacterial properties. As per one study, onion extracts acted against Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus, the bacteria responsible for dental caries and other allergies. Onions also possess antibiotic effects that can accelerate wound healing.
7. Improve Immune System
Onions contain selenium that stimulates immune function. The mineral also prevents excessive immune response, which can have adverse effects. Immune cells deficient in selenium develop and reproduce inefficiently, and here’s where onions come into the picture. Such cells also have difficulty in producing important proteins and transporting calcium.
Onions are also considered herbal medicine in Russia, where they are used to treat cold and flu.
The anti-inflammatory properties of onions can also help improve asthma. This effect can be attributed to quercetin (an average onion contains 50 mg of it).
8. Cure Ear Disorders
As per one report, though research is limited, most parents swear by onions to cure ear ailments. They insist that onion juice can work great to relieve earache. One way to do this is to heat up the onion, extract some of the juice, and pour a few drops into the infected ear. And this remedy, believe us, goes back to the 19th century.
All you need to do is place the onion in an oven at 450o F. Let it be for 15 minutes or until it becomes soft. Take out the onion – once it’s cool, cut it in half and squeeze the juice into a small bowl. You can strain the juice once, and using a medicinal dropper, pour a few drops of the juice into your infected ear.
An alternative is to place onion packs on the infected ear. Though the remedy is not scientifically proven, some people believe they might work.
9. Promote Respiratory Health
According to an American study, patients with respiratory issues like asthma and allergic rhinitis can benefit from certain fruits and vegetables, onions being one of them.
The anti-inflammatory properties of onions can also help soothe respiratory ailments. If you are suffering from a respiratory illness, you can simply include onions in your diet (in addition to your medication) for quicker relief. Include onions in your salads and other foods.
10. Improve Sleep
Onions contain prebiotics, which, as per a study, can improve sleep and even reduce stress. When the beneficial bacteria in the gut digest the prebiotic fiber, they multiply and improve gut health – and more importantly, release metabolic byproducts. These byproducts can influence brain function and induce sleep.
11. Enhance Eye Health
The sulfur in onions improves the health of the lens of the eye. It stimulates the production of a protein named glutathione, which acts as an antioxidant. Higher levels of glutathione mean a reduced risk of glaucoma, macular degeneration, and cataracts.
The selenium in onions supports the vitamin E in the eye (which protects the cells in the eye).
As per an Iranian study, onions can inhibit the growth of normal eye flora. This highlights the possibility of onions being a potential cure for common eye infections like conjunctivitis and blepharitis. In the study, onion juice was used as eye drops – which resulted in the benefits. You can try that too, but we recommend you consult your health care provider first.
Onion extracts can also aid in preventing the development of corneal haze.
12. Are Good For Oral Health
Onions contain thiosulfinates and thiosulfonates (the sulfur compounds) that help reduce bacteria that cause tooth decay. And eating them raw is best – as cooking might destroy some of these beneficial compounds.
The vegetable is also rich in vitamin C that can keep the teeth healthy (29). It is also believed that onions can relieve tooth pain. However, there is less research on this.
But one downside of onions is that they can cause bad breath. Hence, wash your mouth thoroughly after consuming onions – especially if you are heading to a social gathering.