by Kimberly Allen, RN
Onions, that unassuming vegetable that we slice and chop, fry and saute. We add them to salads and sandwiches as well as soups, sauces, and pretty much anything else you can think of. Why? For most people it’s the flavor it provides. However, the benefits of eating onions whether raw or cooked far exceeds that of flavor.
Onions have a wide range of medicinal properties. They were used by early American settlers to treat colds, asthma, and other respiratory ailments. Chinese medicine has been using onions for centuries to treat a variety of conditions including cardiac problems, colds and other respiratory illnesses as well as infections. Even the World Health Organization has given it’s support for the use of onions to treat conditions like poor appetite and respiratory conditions as well as for the prevention of atherosclerosis. Onions have also been shown to reduce bronchial spasms.
In recent years numerous studies have demonstrated that onions contain numerous compounds proven to be beneficial for a range of health issues. In addition to being a great source of vitamin C, calcium, chromium, as well as folic acid and certain B vitamins onions are also a rich source of quercitin. In fact onions have 3 times more quercitin than kale, which is the next richest source of quercitin, and 10 times more than broccoli. Quercitin has demonstrated numerous medicinal properties including the ability to lower bad cholesterol, and increase good cholesterol, it can thin the blood and ward off blood clots. It can also fight respiratory conditions like asthma, hay fever, and chronic bronchitis. Quercitin also has antibiotic, antiviral and anti inflammatory properties as well as a wide range of anti cancer powers. Quercitin can also be used as a sedative. Onions also contain different organic sulfur compounds as well as amino acids containing sulfur known as methionine and cystine which in addition to other things are great for detoxifying your body. Onions have also demonstrated the ability to reduce the blood sugar.
Though you can get significant benefits from eating onions you can also receive benefits from onions without eating them. Onions as well as garlic peeled and with the ends cut off were placed in open containers like bowls or empty jars around the rooms of the home to combat the flu as well as other disease including the plague in the early 1900’s. Onions have the ability to absorb bacteria and viruses. the head of the orphanage I volunteer with knows someone that placed several bowls of onions around her home during flu season and no one got the flu. As nearly everyone at the orphanage had gotten the flu during the previous season last year he decided to try it in the orphanage and sure enough they made it through the season without anyone getting so much as a cold. However, it’s important to realize that those powers to absorb bacteria etc can come back to bite you if you are not careful. Never eat onion that has been sitting around after it’s been cut. It’s always the mayo that gets blamed when you get sick after eating the potato salad that’s been sitting out, but guess what , it’s not the mayo. the mayo that you buy at the store has a pH that has been set to a point where bacteria could not survive, in fact mayo doesn’t even need to be refrigerated. It’s the onions. They have been cut and chopped and are sitting around absorbing whatever bacteria or viruses are in the area. You might want to reconsider those chopped onions you put on that hot dog at the ball park too. Uncooked onions are like magnets for bacteria so it is not recommended to keep and use raw onion at a later time. Some experts say it’s not safe even if you keep it in a zip lock bag in your refrigerator.
Kimberly Allen is a registered nurse with an AND in nursing. She has worked in ACF, LCF and psychiatric facilities, although she spent most of her career as a home health expert. She is now a regular contributor to HealthAndFitnessTalk.com, dispensing advice and knowledge about medical issues and questions. You can reach her with any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.