Considering that apple’s are #2 on the dirty dozen list (Look here) is that slowly changing to an onion a day trend? Onions are packed with TONS of good for you stuff, and according the the EWG, Onions are lowest on the list for pesticide contamination. Not to mention, you can normally find onions fairly inexpensive. I think I picked up some yellow onions for $1.37/lb the other day. My family likes onions. .. . ok, maybe they don’t “like” them, but at least they eat onions. They know mom says “they are good for your health“. Lets take a look at the Onion, which is an Allium vegetable and what makes them SOOO good for you.
Onions (Allium cepa) belong to the lily family, the same family as garlic, leeks, chives, scallions and shallots. There are over 600 species of Allium, grown all over Europe, North America, Northern Africa and Asia. The plants can be used as ornamentals, vegetables, spices, or as medicine. There are over 120 different documented uses of the Alliums.
For over 4,000 years onions have been used for medical purposes. Egyptians numbered over 8000 onion-alleviated ailments. The esteemed Greek physician Hippocrates prescribed onions as a diuretic, wound healer and pneumonia fighter. During World War II, Russian soldiers applied onions to battle wounds as an antiseptic. And throughout the ages there have been countless folk remedies that have ascribed their curative powers to onions, such as putting a sliced onion under your pillow to fight off insomnia. (Taken from http://www.sweetonionsource.com/healthy.html)
Onions are highly recommended for people trying to prevent cardiovascular disease, cancer and infections. Like most vegetables, onions are fat- and cholesterol-free, and contain very little sodium. Onions are a member of the 500-plus allium family. While garlic, also in the allium family, has been highly praised as a cancer preventative, most people eat a lot more onions. As Americans search for low-fat, low-salt, but tasty meals, they’re eating more onions – according to the National Onion Association, around 20 pounds/year per person, which is 50% more than a decade ago.
Two health benefits of the onion are sulfur (a compound) and quercetin (a flavonoid). Flavonoids are super potent antioxidants. They each have been shown to help neutralize the free radicals in the body, and protect the membranes of the body’s cells from damage. Quercetin is a antioxidant it is also found in red wine and tea, but in much lower quantities. White onions contain very little quercetin, so it’s better to stick with the yellow and red varieties. Most health professionals recommend eating raw onions for maximum benefit, but cooking makes them more versatile and doesn’t significantly reduce their potency. I personally only know one person who will eat an onion raw, like you would an apple (YUCK!). But, if you like them that way. . . It is definitely the way to go!
Throughout history, Onions have been used for a variety of ailments. Early Americans used wild onions to treat colds, coughs & asthma, and to repel insects. (I would think this would repel EVERYONE, onions have a strong scent) In Chinese medicine, onions have been used to treat angina, coughs, bacterial infections, and breathing problems.
The World Health Organization (WHO) supports the use of onions for the treatment of poor appetite and to prevent atherosclerosis. Onion extracts are also recognized by WHO for providing relief in the treatment of coughs and colds, asthma and bronchitis. Onions are known to decrease bronchial spasms. An onion extract was found to decrease allergy-induced bronchial constriction in asthma patients. They contain a number of sulfides similar to those found in garlic which may lower blood lipids and blood pressure. Onions are also a rich source of flavonoids, a substance known to provide protection against cardiovascular disease. Onions are also natural anticlotting agents since they possess substances with fibrinolytic activity and can suppress platelet-clumping.
Onions are a very good source of fructo-oligosaccharides. These oligomers stimulate the growth of healthy bifidobacteria and suppress the growth of potentially harmful bacteria in the colon. They are known to reduce the risk of tumors developing in the colon. Onion extracts, rich in a variety of sulfides, provide some protection against tumor growth. In central Georgia where Vidalia onions are grown, mortality rates from stomach cancer are about 50% lower than the average level for the United States. Studies in Greece have shown a high consumption of onions, garlic and other allium herbs to be protective against stomach cancer. Chinese with the highest intake of onions, garlic, and other Allium vegetables have a risk of stomach cancer 40 percent less than those with the lowest intake. Elderly Dutch men and women with the highest onion consumption (at least one-half onion/day) had one-half the level of stomach cancer compared with those consuming no onions at all.
Western Yellow, New York Bold, and Northern Red onions have the richest concentration of flavonoids and phenolics, providing them with the greatest antioxidant and anti-proliferative activity of 10 onions tested. The mild-tasting Western White and Vidalia onions had the lowest antioxidant content and lowest anti-proliferative activity. The shoppers trend to purchase the less pungent, milder onion varieties may not be the best, since the onions with a stronger flavor and higher astringency appear to have superior health-promoting properties.
Onions are safely consumed by most people. Though, consuming large quantities of onions may lead to stomach distress and gastrointestinal irritation that may result in nausea and diarrhea.
So there you have it – try to eat onions every day!! They are super good for you!! I put them into almost everything I cook. If you are concerned about bad breath, Parsley (fresh of course) cures that icky onion breath. It also taste good in many many foods. To cut down on the “tears” that come with cutting onions, when using a cutting board, spray it down first with white vinegar, I am not sure why this works, but I hardly get tears when cutting onions now.
Here is one of my favorite recipes with raw onions.
Black Bean Salad (courtesy of Vegweb)
2 cans Black Beans
1 Can Corn (I used organic, white)
4 plum tomatoes (Or organic diced tomatos, plain)
1 Medium Red Onion (More if you can handle the strong flavor of them)
1/2 Green Pepper (I have used red, green, yellow, and orange)
Handful of fresh Cilantro
1/2 tablespoon SALT (or to taste)
1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tblsp Olive Oil
2 Chipolte Peppers (Or Chipolte sauce)
1/2 Tblsp Minced Garlic
1. Drain & Rinse Beans
2. Drain Corn
3. Dice red onion, Green Pepper, Tomato, and chipotle peppers.
4. Chop Cilantro.
5. Mix all of it together. Add salt, olive oil, garlic, and vinegar.
6. Chill covered 4 hours to let flavors blend. Serve chilled.