Onions are part of the allium family of vegetables and herbs, which also includes chives, garlic, scallions and leeks. Allium vegetables have been cultivated for centuries for not only their characteristic, pungent flavors but also for their medicinal properties.
1. Cancer Prevention
Allium vegetables have been studied extensively in relation to cancer, especially stomach and colorectal cancers. Their beneficial and preventative effects are likely due in part to their rich organosulfur compounds. Although the exact mechanism by which these compounds inhibit cancer is unknown, possible hypothesis include the inhibition of tumor growth and mutagenesis and prevention of free radical formation.
Onions are also a source of the strong antioxidant vitamin C that helps to combat the formation of free radicals known to cause cancer.
High fiber intakes from all fruits and vegetables are associated with a lowered risk of colorectal cancer.
In a study published by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers used a population-based, case-controlled study to investigate the relationship between allium vegetable intake and prostate cancer. They found that men with the highest intake of allium vegetables had the lowest risk for prostate cancer.
Frequent intake of allium vegetables has been inversely related with the risk of esophageal and stomach cancer. Several survey-based human studies have demonstrated the potential protective effects of consuming alliums, as well as reports of tumor inhibition following administration of allium compounds in experimental animals.
2. Cardiovascular Benefits of Onions
Unlike the research on garlic and its cardiovascular benefits, research specifically focused on onion has mostly been conducted on animals rather than humans. In animal studies, there is evidence that onion’s sulfur compounds may work in an anti-clotting capacity and help prevent the unwanted clumping together of blood platelet cells. There is also evidence showing that sulfur compounds in onion can lower blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, and also improve cell membrane function in red blood cells.
3. Support for Bone and Connective Tissue
Human studies have shown that onion can help increase our bone density and may be of special benefit to women of menopausal age who are experiencing loss of bone density. In addition, there is evidence that women who have passed the age of menopause may be able to lower their risk of hip fracture through frequent consumption of onions.
4. Enhance Your Sleep and Mood
Folate, found in onions, may help with depression by preventing an excess of homocysteine from forming in the body, which can prevent blood and other nutrients from reaching the brain. Excess homocysteine interferes with the production of the feel-good hormones serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which regulate not only mood, but also sleep and appetite as well.
5. Onions Boost Immune System
“The polyphenols in onions act as antioxidants, protecting the body against free radicals,” said Anne Mauney, a dietitian based in Washington, D.C. Eliminating free radicals can help encourage a strong immune system. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the quercetin in onions also reduces allergic reactions by stopping your body from producing histamines, which are what make you sneeze, cry and itch if you’re having an allergic reaction.
6. Digestive Benefits
The fiber in onions promotes good digestion and helps keep you regular. Additionally, onions contain a special type of soluble fiber called oligofructose, which promotes good bacteria growth in your intestines. One 2005 study in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology found that oligofructose may help prevent and treat types of diarrhea. The phytochemicals in onions that scavenge free radicals may also reduce your risk of developing gastric ulcers, according to the National Onion Association.
7. Regulate Blood Sugar
The chromium in onions assists in regulating blood sugar. The sulfur in onions helps lower blood sugar by triggering increased insulin production. One 2010 study in the journal Environmental Health Insights revealed that this might be especially helpful to people with people with diabetes. People with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes who ate red onions showed lower glucose levels for up to four hours.
8. Treat Acne
The anti-microbial, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities of onion can work wonders on your skin. It is a powerful antiseptic which protects your skin from acne-causing bacteria and other skin infections. Onions can be used in the treatment of acne and pimples. For this purpose, you can mix 1 tablespoon of onion juice or extract with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and apply it on your face. Leave it for 20 minutes and then wash off. Apart from topical application, regular consumption of onion can also give you miraculous results in case of acne.
9. Lighten the Complexion
Onions help in purifying your blood and supply your body with flavonoids which assist Vitamin C in its important functions. The consumption of onions can keep your skin healthy and glowing. You can prepare your own face mask by combining 1.5 tablespoons freshly extracted onion juice with 2 tablespoons gram flour, 1/2 teaspoon milk and a pinch of nutmeg. Mix all these ingredients to form a thick paste and add some more milk if required to reach the desired consistency. You can also add few drops of lavender essential oil to beat the smell of onions. Apply it all over your face after cleansing and leave for 15 to 20 minutes or until it dries. Dab a cotton ball in milk and remove the pack by massaging in gentle circular movements. This will exfoliate the dead skin cells as well as lighten the skin tone.
10. Treatment of Dark Spots and Pigmentation
Onion juice is excellent for getting rid of dark spots and pigmentation. The rich variety of phytonutrients and antioxidants in onion nourish your skin while removing skin impurities. You can prepare a face pack by mixing equal quantities of onion juice and fresh yogurt. You can also add a few drops of any essential oil for a pleasant aroma.
11. Anti-Aging Benefits of Onions
Onions possess enormous anti-aging benefits. The antioxidant vitamins A, C and E fight against the damage caused by harmful UV rays as well as prevent free radical damage which is responsible for causing premature aging of our skin. Onion is one of the richest sources of quercetin, the most powerful antioxidant that can keep your skin wrinkle-free. Vitamins and sulphur, on the other hand, protect your skin, and keep it soft and supple. The anti-aging qualities of onion can be attributed to the presence of sulphur-rich phytochemicals. Massaging your skin with fresh onion juice helps increase blood circulation and improves the overall appearance of your skin by imparting a more youthful and radiant appearance.
12. Sexual Debility
Onion is a potent aphrodisiac and stands second only to garlic. For this, the white variety is most effective.
13. Urinary Tract Infection
Boil some onion in water till half of the water evaporated. Sieve the onion water, leave to cool and drink. The anti-bacterial properties help relieve the burning sensation in urination.
14. Fight Regenerative Diseases and Fungi
In addition to quercetin, red onions provide allicin, a potent health-promoting compound that is found in onions and other members of the Allium family when the plant is crushed or chopped. Allicin has been shown to promote cardiovascular health, prevent and treat cancer, and reduce high blood pressure. It has also been suggested that allicin could be helpful for people with dandruff due to its anti-fungal properties.
15. Treatment of Anemia
Even anemic conditions can be improved by eating onions along with jaggery and water, because this adds to the mineral content of the body, especially iron, which is an essential part of producing new red blood cells. Therefore, anemia, also known as iron deficiency, can be prevented by having a health amount of onions in your diet.