Plants & People: Onion – An Excellent Source Of Vitamins

Onion is an essential vegetable that is central to many meals. It forms the basis of many dishes whether raw, baked, steamed or boiled and indeed, it is difficult to imagine any cuisine without it.

Although both raw and cooked onions are super healthy, raw onions have higher levels of organic sulphur compounds that offer numerous curative health benefits. Like garlic, onion is a member of the plant family Armaryllidaceae and is scientifically known as Allium cepa.

There are a number of commercial varieties and cultivars of onions available in the market. In fact, since the dawn of time, onions have been used to liven up food recipes and are added to ancient concoctions for medicinal purposes. Modern medicine has found onions to be highly beneficial in almost every area of the body; from maintaining cell health to preventing inflammation to purifying blood.

Onions are loaded with lots of benefits and are an excellent source of vitamins C, B6, folate, iron, potassium, and manganese that offers protection against colds and flu. Likewise, onions contain S-methylcysteine (a sulphur compound), quercetin and a very high level of biotin (water-soluble B-vitamin) which is laden with positive impacts on one’s health like combating symptoms associated with type 2 diabetes. Regular consumption of onions might therefore be very helpful in regulating the body, blood sugar and also decreasing body insulin resistance. In fact, biotin is also known to be important in maintaining a healthy skin and hair.

Regular consumption of onions is important for the improvement of body immunity. This is because onions contain selenium, vitamin C and other important phytochemicals such as quercetin which are vital for a healthier and a more effective immune system and has as well an anti-inflammatory effect.

Onions have potent antioxidant effects due to the presence of quercetin. It is a vital plant in the fight against cancer-causing free radicals. This phytochemical also protects our body against stress by suppressing the enzyme required for cortisol release in one’s body hence lowering the body stress level.

On the other hand, Cholesterol is carried in the blood attached to proteins called lipoproteins. There are two main forms, LDL (low density lipoprotein) and HDL (high density lipoprotein). LDL cholesterol is often referred to as “bad cholesterol” because too much is unhealthy while HDL is good cholesterol. Raw onion promotes the production of HDL to enhance one’s body to stay healthy.

The digestive benefits of onions can be attributed to inulin fibre. In fact, inulin fibre acts as a food source for the beneficial bacteria in the intestines. When consumed, inulin fibre ensures a person’s body maintains good levels of the healthy bacteria.

The presence of quercetin (and other flavonoids) in onions can help prevent inflammation and other allergies by preventing basophils and mast cells from releasing histamine; a substance released as a result of an immune response to foreign pathogens. The anti-inflammatory property is also vital in helping those suffering from joint pain and arthritis.

Did you know that some people sleep with onions underneath their feet, placed in socks? Well, this practice may be vital as our feet contain the nerve endings of all the organs of the body and hence placing onions beneath the feet may lead to transfer of their beneficial properties to the body interiors hence building one’s immunity and eradicating infections.

Onion tea or onion-honey syrup is vital in treatment of common colds and boosts one’s immunity to fight off diseases. In addition, onions possess enormous anti-ageing benefits. The antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E fight against the damage caused by the harmful UV rays as well as prevent free radical damage that is responsible for causing premature aging of the skin.

Onion juice is excellent for removing body dark spots and pigmentation. The rich variety of phytonutrients and antioxidants in onions nourish one’s skin while removing the impurities. The quercetin, the most powerful antioxidant can keep one’s skin wrinkle-free.

– Richard Komakech