Onion, which derives its name from the Latin Onio has been described often as the dynamite of natural foods. Compared with other fresh vegetables, it is relatively high in food value.
Onion is believed to have originated in Central Asia, possibly in the Iran-Pakistan region. It has been cultivated since ancient times in the Middle East and India. It was a popular food in ancient Egypt, where it is depicted on tombs as early as 3200 BC and has been found with the mummies as well.
Onion is also frequently referred to in the literature from Hippocrates, known as the father of modern medicine. Onion is now cultivated in almost every part of the globe.
Why should I be aware of this?
One of the oldest cultivated vegetables, onion is considered a food of exceptional value for flavouring and seasoning.
It is moderate in protein content and is rich in calcium and riboflavin. There is considerable variation in composition between different varieties and it also varies with the stage of maturity and length of storage.
How does this affect me?
Onion is highly valued for its therapeutic properties. It has been used as a food remedy form time immemorial. The physicians of ancient Egypt prescribed it in various diseases.It is stimulant, rubefacient, expectorant and diuretic.
Several parts of the plant have a place in the traditional medicine. The seeds of onion increase semen and relieve dental worms and urinary diseases. The stalks of onion are a source of Vitamin A, thiamin and ascorbic acid. They are used in both tender and mature stages.
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.
All about onion
The onion is a biennial herb, usually grown as an annual. All its parts produce a strong odor when crushed. It has a superficial root system, a very short flattened stem at the base of the plant, which increases in diameter as growth continues. Leaves are long, linear and hollow. The thickening of the leaf bases forms a bulb when the plant reaches a certain stage of growth. The fruit is a globular capsule.
The odor in onion is because of the organic sulphur compounds and is produced only when the tissues are cut or injured by enzyme action on a water-soluble amino acid. Heating, freezing and drying prevent the enzyme action. That is why cooking produces a different odor, flavour and pungency. The sharp odor lingers for a considerable time after consumption. It is said to be due to small particles retained in the mouth, which cannot always be removed by brushing or washing teeth. The onion has a good keeping quality. The dried cured bulb may be kept for several months without deterioration and can stand rough handling.
Value Per 100gms edible portion
- Moisture -86.6%
- Protein- 1.2%
- Fibre- 0.6%
- Minerals - 0.4%
- Carbohydrates- 11.1%
- Calcium - 47 mg
- Phosphorous- 50 mg
- Iron - 0.7 mg
- Vitamin C- 11mg
Onion and health
The white onion is preferable to the red and yellow varieties. For therapeutic use, onion juice is more beneficial. Onion being stimulating and irritating food, its consumption in excess should be avoided.
- Respiratory disease -- Onion is said to possess expectorant properties. It liquefies phlegm and prevents further formation. It has been used as a food remedy fo centuries in cold, cough, bronchitis and influenza. Equal amounts of onion juice and honey should be mixed and 3 to 4 tsp should be taken daily.
- Tooth disorders --Latest researchers of Russian doctors have confirmed the bactericidal properties of onion. According to these findings, if a person consumes one raw onion every day by thorough mastication, tooth disorders can be kept at bay.
- Anemia -- Onions are noted for their easily assimilable iron content. They are therefore beneficial in the treatment of anemia.
- Heart diseases -- Recent research has established onion as an effective preventive food item against heart attack. The benefits are due to the presence of essential oil, aliypropyl disulphide, catechol, protocatechnic acid, thiopropiono aldehyde, thiocyanate, calcium, iron, phosphorous and vitamins in onion. They help in correcting thrombosis and also reduce blood cholesterol.
- Blood Glucose levels -- The higher the intake of onion, the lower the level of glucose found during oral or intravenous glucose tolerance tests. Experimental and clinical evidence suggests that allyl propyl disulfide is responsible for this effect and lowers blood sugar levels by increasing the amount of free insulin available. Allyl propyl disulfide does this by competing with insulin, which is also a disulphide, to occupy the sites in the liver where insulin is inactivated. This results is an increase in the amount of insulin available to usher glucose into cells causing a lowering of blood sugar
- Other benefits -- In addition, onions are a very good source of chromium, the mineral component in glucose tolerance factor, a molecule that helps cells respond appropriately to insulin. Clinical studies of diabetics have shown that chromium can decrease fasting blood glucose levels, improve glucose tolerance, lower insulin levels, and decrease total cholesterol and triglyceride levels, while increasing HDL-cholesterol levels. Marginal chromium deficiency is common in the United States, not surprising since chromium levels are depleted by the consumption of refined sugars and white flour products as well as the lack of exercise. One cup of raw onion contains over 20% of the Daily Value for this important trace mineral.
- Cholesterol -- The regular consumption of onions has, like garlic, 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' sulfur 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.
- Sexual Debility --Onion is one of the most important aphrodisiac foods. It increases libido and strengthens the reproductory organs. The white variety of onion should be peeled off, crushed and fried in pure butter and taken regularly with a spoon of honey on an empty stomach.
- Cholera -- Onions are an effective remedy for cholera. About 30 grams of onion and seven black peppers should be finely pounded in a pestle and given to a patient. It allays thirst and restlessness. It also lessens vomiting and diarrhea immediately.
- Urinary system disorders -- Onions are highly beneficial in the treatment of urinary tract infection (UTI) system disorders. For burning sensation in urine, six grams of onion should be boiled in 500 ml of water. It should be removed from the fire when half the water has evaporated. It should then be strained, allowed to cool and given to the patient.
Onion in Juice Therapy
Even under Juice therapy, onion comes highly recommended. It helps cure:
- Asthma --Mix equal quantities of onion and ginger juice and add a pinch of salt and black pepper. One can add a little honey as well and consume it.
- Insomnia--In a glass of milk, mix 5 ml of onion juice and some honey and it should be taken an hour before retiring to bed.
- Heat stroke -- Regular use of onion with vinegar will serve as a preventive of heat stroke.
- Menstrual disorder-- Jaggery and onion juice should be mixed and had every day.
What can I do?
Onions can be used in innumerable ways. The immature and mature bulbs are eaten raw or they may be cooked and eaten as a vegetable. They are used in soups and sauces and as seasoning. The shallots or spring onion variety are also used in salads. Onion oil, produced by steam distillation, is used to a limited extent for flavoring food.
If an onion is tied near the light, it will dispel insects and mosquitoes. Onion juice mixed with sesame oil helps relieve pain from arthritis. Onion’s juice or the raw form or its pulp is useful for jaundice, enlarged spleen, scurvy, plolapsus, acne, chilblains, wounds, ulcers and boils. It has sedative properties and is used as a skin and blood-nourishing agent. It also helps cure dyspepsia and flatulence.
- Onions not only provide flavor; they also provide health-promoting phytochemicals as well as nutrients.
- Studies have shown that consumption of onions may be beneficial for reduced risk of certain diseases such as gastric ulcers.
- Onion has been cultivated for at least 7,000 years.
- Onions have more sugar than apples. That's why sauces with onion are sweet.
- To stop stored onion from sprouting, you have to burn the small roots of the bulb on a flame and keep them in aerated places.
- In Malta, wounds caused by sea urchin are treated by tying half of a baked onion to the damaged area overnight.
- Recently, a Japanese team has found that onion boosts our memory.
- Onions are Beneficial for Your Health
- Health Benefits of Onion
- Foods that heal – Alan Witkin