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Is adding Onion in your diet is beneficial for your health?

29 July, 2021 Ananya Das

Allium Cepa or popularly known as Onion is a ground growing vegetable whose botanical variety is known as shallot belonging to the Allium genus. Autumn and spring are harvest season when the foliage of onions die, and the outer cover of the bulb become dry to indicate the readiness of the onion crops.

These onions are popular also as the ones that make people cry, the main reason behind this is the volatile liquid that is released when an onion is chopped afresh. This volatile liquid is a chemical called syn-propanethial-S-oxide and its aerosol is released to indicate the defensive action of the onion cells to the chopping action working on them. The main chemical released to provide the defensive action is sulfenic acid which on further reaction with other enzymes present in onion causes its conversion finally to syn-propanethial-S-oxide that easily diffuses in air and activates the sensory neurons. Thus to dilute and remove this irritant from eyes, tears are produced and we feel like crying.

But this is not all, onions possess a lot of variety and each variety possesses a variety of little but different nutrients, minerals, and phytochemicals which provide us reason to smile too. The 89% composition of onions is composed of water only and the rest 9% contains inclusive of 4% sugar and 2% dietary fibers with the remaining 1% as protein and the rest are minerals. Let us look at the nutritional composition of the onions:

  • 100gm of onion provides 166kJ of energy
  • Vitamins include
    • Thiamine
    • Niacin
    • Vitamin B6
    • Vitamin C
    • Riboflavin
  • Phytochemical
    • Flavonoid
    • Polyphenols
    • Anthocyanin pigments
  • Minerals include
    • Calcium
    • Iron
    • Magnesium
    • Zinc
    • Potassium
    • Phosphorus
    • Manganese

Apart from the nutritional content, onions also possess savory flavor which enhances the taste of dishes without hiking the calorie content.

After knowing about the contents of this bulb now let us take a look at the benefits provided by onions and where they can be used for:

Benefits of onion

  • Lung health: The antioxidant content of onions especially the flavonoids possessed by onions provides it with the property to strengthen the capillary walls to help the lungs to fight against inflammation caused by asthma. Also, they protect the linings of the lungs and the bronchial tubes against the potential damages by pollution.
  • Controls cholesterol: Studies show that if the PCOS-affected females consume raw red onions in good quantity like 40-50gm a day if overweight or 50-60gm a day if obese then it can help to lower the amount of bad LDL cholesterol in them.
  • Heart health: The anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties of onion help in lowering the levels of triglycerides and cholesterol from the body along with lower the occurrence of high blood pressure and blood clotting chances thus overall reducing the chances of developing heart diseases.
  • Controls blood sugar: The possession of anti-diabetic compounds in onion, as sulfur compounds and quercetin, helps in controlling the blood sugar levels by interacting with the cells of the small intestine, pancreas, liver, and fat tissues.
  • Strengthens bone: It is considered that the consumption of red onions helps to improve bone mineral density, reduce the loss of bone, oxidative stress and boost the anti-oxidant level in them. All these benefits provided by onions are due to their antioxidant properties. And the pre-biotic content of onion helps to absorb minerals by the bones.
  • Improves immunity: The number of friendly bacteria in the guts is enhanced by onion consumption due to its rich content of prebiotics inulin and fructooligosaccharides which overall helps in improving the functioning of our body’s immune system.
  • Hair and Scalp Health: Onions are considered a boon for the hairs due to the variety of hair healthy sulfur content of onions which help in lowering the thinning and breaking of hairs. Besides, the antibacterial and antifungal nature of onions helps to promote scalp health as they protect it from any kind of infection.

Besides the various benefits onion provides, yet it is not for all. Some people are allergic to onion also. The allergic reactions that can occur due to onions can include the following symptoms:

  • Contact dermatitis
  • Intense itching
  • Blurry vision
  • Sweating
  • Anaphylaxis

But this allergic reaction can also be avoided by not touching or getting in contact with raw and fresh onion but the cooked ones can be consumed as denaturizes the proteins that cause these allergic symptoms and hence, make it suitable to consume and enjoy its savory flavor.