Onion nutrition and remedies is our next topic, to continue with the ‘natural remedies you may already have
in your kitchen’ theme. This humble little bulb
has a long and fragrant history, much like its cousin, garlic. In fact,
these two have similar actions…and compliment one another in remedies and
recipes alike. You may already be aware
of the many uses of onions in the kitchen, but onions, like garlic, have been
interwoven in the history of medicine for thousands of years…as far back as can
be documented in human history.
The Humble Onion: Nutrition Powerhouse
Like garlic, onions contain a long list of chemical compounds that activate and
begin to create new compounds when cut.
Though they contain similar compounds, garlic contains a much higher
concentration of the antibiotic compound allicin.
Onions however, have a higher quercetin content. Quercetin is arguably the most important
compound in onions . It is a strong
antioxidant (a flavanol). Antioxidents are important for slowing damage to body cells. Many studies
are now pointing to a flavonoids rich diet to decrease the risk of degenerative
changes and diseases like cataracts, cardiovascular disease, and
cancer.(1)(2) Other compounds in onions
are also useful for lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. (3) Like garlic, onion is a food and a medicinal
herb. The more onion nutrition you get in your diet on a regular basis, the better!
The darker the onion, the richer the flavanol and quercetin
content on average. Red onions are the star players of onion nutrition levels, with yellow onions
coming in next. The amount of flavanoids
depends on the growing methods and processing. (4) For the biggest health
benefits, choose smaller dark (red) skinned onions, and fresh over processed
onions whenever possible. The peels
have significantly more flavanols than the core. I save the papery peelings, and toss them into my broth bag in
the freezer, where they can add their flavor and concentrated nutrients to
homemade broth! (1)
If the eye watering bothers you (and I weep with you) then I
have found that an enclosed chopper is handy.
My Pampered Chef chopper is my favorite, but I was given one of these
for Christmas, and I’m enjoying it as well!
Cooking onions will break down the sulfur and the strong
smell/taste along with it, and roasting even develop the sugars in the onion and makes them
mighty tasty! Roasting will not harm
the quercetin content, so you’ll still get those great anti-inflammatory
properties…cooking in water will cause the flavanols and other onion nutrition to leach into the liquid, so soups
are a great way to get the quercetin into your system. Don’t bother with powdered or dehydrated
onions, which have next to or none of that good onion nutrition left. And don’t count on fried onions for health benefits (darn it)…they lose 1/3
of their potency in the fryer. (5) My favorite onion recipes are French Onion
Soup, homemade broths and soups made from them, and my yummy french dressing
made with fresh onion. Yum! I have used both of these when fighting
coughs and colds.
(Confession: I’m too much of a weenie to eat fresh onions on
a salad. Sorry Mom.)
J Agric Food Chem.