“I cannot imagine a world without onions.”- Julia Child

The onion may not be everyone’s favorite vegetable, but it sure is beneficial. The next time you peel onions and start crying, just think of all the great health benefits you are getting. They contain lots of fiber and antioxidants. They are also rich in vitamins B and C, and are full of sulphur, iron, potassium, phosphorous, calcium, and manganese. Each 100 grams of onion contains about 45 calories.

OnionsA Word About Tears

Tears keep the eyes in great condition, by acting as a lubricant that also helps to kill bacteria and toxins. Without tears, our eyes would just not function at all! If cutting onions up really makes you cry buckets, you could try turning on the overhead ventilator on your cooker, if your work surface is nearby. This can redirect the tear jerking enzyme (allyl sulphate) away from your tear ducts.

Another trick is to freeze the onions for about 15 minutes before you start chopping or dicing them. The only problem here is that they will be harder to cut.

Here are 10 surprising benefits of onions:

1. Helps reduce pain after a bee sting

When you are stung by a bee, it can be a painful and swelling experience. Applying ice and taking a painkiller can be useful. But, here’s a tip you may not have tried: Apply a freshly cut onion to the affected area to reduce pain, according to Dr. Eric Block of the State University of New York at Albany.

2. Lowers bad cholesterol

Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong show that onions (especially the red ones) can help reduce the levels of bad cholesterol. Studies show that consuming half a raw onion daily can help to raise the good HDL cholesterol by 30%. Chives, garlic, and shallots are also effective. They all come from the Allium family.

3. Increases your supply of glutathione

Glutathione is one of the most important antioxidants. Our bodies produce even more of it by eating lots of onions and also other vegetables, such as cauliflower and broccoli. This antioxidant can ward off cancer, heart disease, and even Alzheimer’s disease.

4. Stops colds in their tracks

What do the Roman Emperor Nero and President George Washington got in common?  Both men were absolutely convinced that the best way to stop a cold and developing sore throat was to eat an onion!  Vitamin C is the responsible culprit.

5. May help keep blood sugar under control

Onions contain allyl propyl disulphide (oil of onion). This oil acts in a way similar to how insulin helps balance blood sugar levels. Limited research shows that it helps to reduce blood glucose.

6. Removes dark skin spots (melasma) from skin

Mixing onion juice (obtained by chopping and then squeezing) with an equal amount of apple cider vinegar can remove dark spots on the skin, when applied twice a day. Melasma or hyperpigmentation is often caused by sun, contraceptives, or pregnancy. It is sometimes referred to as a ‘pregnancy mask.’ Both onions and the cider vinegar help to balance the pH of the skin.

7. Onions are rich in quercetin

It is now established in medical circles that the quercetin flavonoid is essential in helping to ward off, or cure, the following troublesome health conditions:

  • Blood clots
  • Bronchitis
  • Hay fever
  • Diabetes
  • Asthma

8. Detoxifying with onions

One of the most worrying aspects of our environment is how much we are exposed to some nasty metals (lead, cadmium, and mercury). These metals do a lot of harm in our bodies. We need to get rid of these by detoxifying. The best way of doing this is to find foods that have methionine and cystine, which are sulphur containing amino acids. These act as a magnet for those harmful metals, and help us excrete these. Guess what? Onions have plenty of these amino acids so they are really an excellent way of detoxifying.

9. Onions may help prevent cancer

One of the most common cancers among men affects the prostate gland. Studies published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute show that regular consumption of the allium family type of vegetable (shallots, garlic, and onions) may help to reduce the incidence of prostate cancer. Similar studies show that stomach and breast cancer rates may also be cut by eating onions.

10. Helps to maintain brain health

Who isn’t worried about memory loss and brain acuity? Studies show that the consumption of onions can help when the brain is damaged by a stroke or a clot. It seems to play an important role in our mental health.

The next time you take a smelly onion in your hand, think about all the health benefits. Maybe you will cry less when you start to slice, chop and dice it! 

Check out Getting the Most Flavor From Your Onions

Featured photo credit: Walmart Corporate via flickr.com

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