It turns out that onions are nothing to cry over because these flavorful bulbs are packed with nutrients. Onions belong to the Allium family of plants, which also includes chives, garlic, and leeks. These vegetables have characteristic pungent flavours and some medicinal properties.
Onions differ in size, form, colour, and flavour. The most popular types are red, yellow, and white onions. The flavour of these vegetables can range from sweet and juicy to sharp, spicy, and pungent, often depending on the season in which people grow and consume them
Farmers have cultivated allium vegetables for centuries. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, China is the biggest producer of onions worldwide.
It is universal knowledge that chopping onions cause watery eyes. However, onions may also provide inherent health benefits. These may include reducing the risk of several types of cancer, improving mood, and maintaining skin and hair health.
Some benefits of Onion;
Cancer prevention: The antioxidants in onions may help counter free radical compounds.
Researchers have examined allium vegetables extensively about cancer, especially stomach and colorectal cancers. Though experts do not fully understand the exact mechanism by which some compounds in onions inhibit cancer.
One cup of chopped onions also provides at least 13.11% of an adult’s recommended daily intake of vitamin C. As an antioxidant, this vitamin helps counter the formation of free radical compounds that have links to cancer.
Skin and hair: As a good source of vitamin C, onions may support the building and maintenance of collagen; which provides structure to skin and hair
Blood pressure moderation: A 2019 review found that quercetin, a compound in onion skin, had links to lower blood pressure when the researchers extracted it and administered it as a supplement.
Digestion: The fibre in onions promotes good digestion. Additionally, onions contain a soluble fibre called oligofructose, which promotes good bacteria growth in your intestines.
Why does chopping onions cause tears?
Onions have a reputation for making people cry during the cutting or chopping process. This response occurs due to the presence of a gas called syn-Propanethial-S-oxide.
This chemical is a compound liquid that acts as a lachrymatory agent, meaning that it causes tears or stings the eyes.
To reduce tears during chopping, the National Onion Association recommend chilling an onion for 30 minutes then cutting off its top. The person should then peel the outer layer of the onion and leave the root intact, as this part has the highest concentration of lachrymatory agents.
Other health benefits of onion include;
- Eating raw onion is known to lower the production of bad cholesterol, and keep your heart healthy.
- The vitamin C with other plant chemicals present in onion helps build immunity.
- Quercetin (a compound found in onions) has been suggested to play a role in inhibiting cancer cells, especially stomach and colorectal cancers.
- Chromium, also present in the root, may help regulate blood sugar.
- A mixture of onion juice and honey is said to be effective as a cure for fever, common cold, allergies, etc.
- A small piece of onion kept under the nostril and inhaled can stop or slow down nose bleed.
- Folate aids sleep and appetite.
- The vitamin C helps the formation of collagen that is responsible for skin and hair health.
- Chewing raw onions improve oral health.
Health risks attached to consuming onions
With just mild adverse effects, eating onions can cause problems for some people. The carbohydrates in onions may cause gas and bloating. If onions are consumed raw, can worsen heartburn in people who suffer from chronic heartburn or gastric reflux disease.
Eating a large number of green onions or rapidly increasing your consumption of green onions may interfere with blood-thinning drugs, because of the large amount of vitamin K in onion, which can decrease blood thinner functioning.
It is also possible to have a food intolerance or an allergy to onions, people with onion allergies may experience red, itchy eyes and rashes if an onion comes into contact with the skin. People with an intolerance to onions may experience nausea, vomiting and other gastric discomforts.
Lastly, always ensure your onions are fresh. Onions spoil much faster if they are chopped or sliced. If you cut up your onions for later use, be sure to refrigerate them in a closed container.
The Bottom Line
The health benefits related to onions are quite impressive.
These nutrient-packed vegetables contain powerful compounds that may decrease your risk of heart disease and certain cancers.
Onions have antibacterial properties and promote digestive health, which may improve immune function.
What’s more, they’re versatile and can be used to heighten the flavour of any savoury dish. Adding more onions to your diet is an easy way to benefit your overall health.