Health Benefits of Onions

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Onions belong to the lily family, which also includes garlic, leeks, chives, scallions, and shallots. Early American settlers used wild onions to treat colds, cough, asthma, and to repel insects. Onions are effective against many bacteria, including Bacillus subtilis, Salmonella, and E. coli. There are many different types of onions, including red, yellow, white, and green. Each different type of onion has its own unique flavor, from very strong to mildly sweet. The high level of sulfur-containing compounds gives onions their unique odor. The strongest smelling onions provide the most health benefits. The best choice is yellow onions, followed by red onions, and then white onions. They are a significant source of vitamins B6 and C, dietary fiber, chromium, folate, manganese, potassium, copper, and phosphorus.

There are many good health benefits involved with onions. A regular diet including onions can lower cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. This can help to prevent atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease. It can also reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Onions are able to increase good-type HDL cholesterol and reduce total cholesterol levels to make a person healthier. Onions are good for diabetics because they contain allyl propyl disulfide, which lowers blood sugar levels by increasing the amount of free insulin available. They also contain thiosulfinates that reduce the symptoms of diabetes. Colorful onions, such as red or yellow, contain the most thiosulfinates. It is best to eat onions raw or lightly cooked because heat diminishes thiosulfinates. Onions contain sulfides which might lower blood lipids and blood pressure.

Onions contain flavonoids, such as quercetin, that can reduce the risk of developing colon cancer by stopping the growth of tumors and protecting colon cells from the damaging effects of certain cancer-causing substances. The flavonoids improve the integrity of blood vessels and decreases inflammation. They also provide protection against cardiovascular disease. Quercetin protects the body against stomach ulcers and colon, esophageal, and breast cancers. Quercetin extract enhances physical performance and endurance.

Other interesting facts about onions are that onion extracts are good at relieving coughs and colds, asthma, and bronchitis. They decrease bronchial spasms and allergy-induced bronchial constriction in asthma patients. They are very rich in chromium, which is a mineral that helps cells respond to insulin. They are effective against osteoporosis. In osteoporosis, they destroy osteoclasts so that they don't break down bone.

Onions are safe to eat for most people but eating too much of this food may cause stomach distress and gastrointestinal irritation that might cause nausea or diarrhea. Cutting onions under cold running water is good at reducing watery eyes and eye irritation. Cut onions should either be stored in a sealed container or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and immediately refrigerated. Uncut onions should be stored in a cool, dark, and dry place.

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