When my kids were little, they would always ask why I cried so much when I cut onions. I used to tell them that it was because they made me so happy.
I know that it didn’t make much sense to them at the time, but now that they are a little older, they totally understand the value of this highly pungent orb.
Onions are a staple food
There is good reason why onions are a staple food in the cuisine of so many cultures worldwide. Not only do these savory bulbs give flavor to so many different styles of meals, their unique combination of nutrients helps prevent disease and support optimal health.
First cultivated in Asia over five thousand years ago, onions were ubiquitous among the ancient Egyptians, Indians, Greeks and Romans, for both food and medicinal purposes. Ancient Egyptians even buried onions in the tombs of their pharaohs, for them to eat in the afterlife.
There are two main varieties of bulb onions: storage onions, which are available year-round, and seasonal onions which are harvested in the spring and summer. Storage onions include yellow, white, red and Spanish onions; seasonal onions include sweet Vidalia and pearl onions, which are a smaller type that are often pickled.
Onions have an amazing nutritional profile
When you eat onions, your body will benefit from the following:
- Vitamins B1 and B6
- Vitamin C
Besides this amazing nutritional profile, here are 17 other reasons why you should love onions!
Onions help you sleep
While it sounds a bit bizarre, onions are even said to cure insomnia. Just cut into a raw onion and take five to 10 deep breaths of its aroma. For the best results, place it into a glass jar and put it beside your bed — take a whiff just before lying down.
Onions eliminate dark spots on the skin
To remove dark spots, slice a red onion and rub it directly onto dark areas of the skin after cleansing. Used on a daily basis it can help lighten hyperpigmentation.
Onions soothe menstrual cramps
Onions are known as one of the best soothing agents for menstrual cramps. Consuming raw onions 4 to 5 days before your period can help ease the pain.
Onions improve sex drive
The agent that gives onions their strong smell, allicin, is also responsible for increasing blood flow to the sexual organs, resulting in increased sex drive.
Onions strengthen the immune system
Along with a potent punch of antioxidants and flavonoids, which have various anti-inflammatory properties, onions are one of the best sources of the trace mineral selenium. One study found that selenium plays an important role in both the initiation and regulation of immune response to infection.
When immune cells lack an adequate supply of selenium, they are less efficient at producing proteins and transporting calcium. They are also more easily oxidized, which results in an overall weakened immune system.
Onions stop a nosebleed
If you get a nosebleed, as soon as possible after it starts, slice an onion and hold it just underneath your nose. The fumes from the onion act as a natural coagulant to stop the bleeding.
Onions support bone health
Research has found that onions can help increase bone density, providing special benefits to menopausal women who are at risk of developing osteoporosis and are experiencing loss of bone density. There is also evidence that women who have passed the age of menopause may be able to lower the risk of hip fracture by regularly consuming onions.
Onions help with detoxification
Onions’ sulfur-containing amino acids have a detoxifying effect. They help the liver process things like caffeine and acetaminophen, as well as convert pesticides, lead and dry-cleaning solvents into forms that are less toxic and easier for the body to eliminate.
Onions keep your teeth and mouth clean
Chewing raw onions for several minutes can help prevent tooth decay and oral infections by killing harmful germs present in the mouth. To get rid of the smell of onion on your breath, just brush your teeth and use mouthwash afterward. Chewing a fresh sprig of parsley can also help.
Onions help reduce blood sugar levels
Onions are one of the richest sources of chromium, a key trace mineral that is responsible for the body’s response to insulin. Research has found that onions can very well help reduce blood sugar levels in diabetic animals. Current research is limited to lab animals, but the effect is promising enough that researchers suggest onion extract may help diabetic patients manage blood sugar as much as medication.
Onions help prevent cancer
Research shows that organosulfur compounds, found in both onions and garlic, prevent the development of cancers by detoxifying carcinogens and stopping cancer cell growth. High onion intake has been associated with a 56 percent lower risk of colon cancer and a 25 percent lower risk of breast cancer compared to no onion intake. In addition, onion consumption has been linked to a lower incidence of stomach and colon cancer.
Onions eliminate blemishes
Rubbing half an onion on your face daily can help to eliminate blemishes without leaving acne scars or the long list of side effects that can come with acne medications.
Onions prevent blood clots and lower cholesterol
Turns out onions may be good for your ticker. Onions, like garlic, are members of the allium family which contain high quantities of flavonoids and antioxidants. Onions are particularly high in the flavonoid quercetin, which has been shown to help prevent blood clots from forming.
Researchers have found that individuals who eat a diet high in quercetin-rich foods reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular disease. This heart-healthy flavonoid also helps lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood.
Onions fight infections
An onion a day keeps infection away. The sulfur compounds in onions have several antimicrobial properties. When combined with quercetin, onions become a powerhouse for keeping infections at bay including dangerous Salmonella and E. coli.
Onions help reduce coughing
Onion juice mixed with some raw honey is a fantastic remedy for an annoying cough. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, the onion juice helps reduce irritation and swelling, which are the causes of coughing.
Onions ease the pain of insect bites
Not only is onion extract an effective insect repellent, but it also soothes bites. You can use onion juice or onion paste to reduce the pain and swelling caused by bites. Simply dab a little on as frequently as needed for relief.
Onions are truly an amazing food — use them frequently in your meals and keep extras on hand at all times! They’re one of the most versatile vegetables and can be consumed raw or cooked, imparting a unique flavor to almost any recipe.
So the next time you cut up an onion, let the happy tears flow!
Susan is the Content Director at The Alternative Daily, a Certified Health Coach, Certified Metabolic Typing Advisor and Master Gardener. With an extensive knowledge of whole foods and wellness, Susan enjoys educating others on how to live healthy and sustainable lives. She presently lives in Springerville Arizona with her three daughters and numerous animals.