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Overview

Onion, like garlic, are members of the Allium family and both are rich in powerful sulphur-containing compounds that are responsible for their pungent odors and for many of their health-promoting effects.

An onion contains allyl propyl disulphide, while garlic is rich in allicin, diallyl disulphide, diallyl trisulphide and others.

In addition, onions are very rich in chromium, a trace mineral that helps cells respond to insulin, plus vitamin C, and numerous flavonoids, most notably, quercitin.

History

Onions are native to Asia and the Middle East and have been cultivated for over five thousand years. Onions were highly regarded by the Egyptians. Not only did they use them as currency to pay the workers who built the pyramids, but they also placed them in the tombs of kings, such as Tutankhamen, so that they could carry these gifts bestowed with spiritual significance with them to the afterlife.

Onions have been revered throughout time not only for their culinary use, but also for their therapeutic properties. As early as the 6th century, onions were used as a medicine in India. While they were popular with the ancient Greeks and Romans, they were oftentimes dressed with extra seasonings since many people did not find them spicy enough. Yet, it was their pungency that made onions popular among poor people throughout the world who could freely use this inexpensive vegetable to spark up their meals.

Onions were an indispensable vegetable in the cuisines of many European countries during the Middle Ages and later even served as a classic healthy breakfast food.

Benefits

The regular consumption of onions, like garlic, has been shown to lower high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, both of which help prevent atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease, and reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke. These beneficial effects are likely due to onions’ sulphur compounds, its chromium and its vitamin B6, which helps prevent heart disease by lowering high homocysteine levels, another significant risk factor for heart attack and stroke.

Onions have been singled out as one of the small number of vegetables and fruits that contributed to the significant reduction in heart disease risk seen in a meta-analysis of seven prospective studies. Of the more than 100,000 individuals who participated in these studies, those who diets most frequently included onions, tea, apples and broccoli-the richest sources of flavonoids-gained a 20% reduction in their risk of heart disease.

Nutritional Profile

Onions are a very good source of vitamin C, chromium and dietary fibre.

They are also a good source of manganese, molybdenum, vitamin B6, folate, potassium, phosphorus, copper and a broad-spectrum of minerals and nutrients.

Disclaimer

Warning: Onions may cause irritation to the eyes.

The information provided is for educational purposes only and must not be taken or interpreted as a suggestion or as medical advise.

If you have any medical conditions, you should consult your health care professional.

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