Onions - Good for the times!

The allium vegetable, onions come in variety of colours – red, white and yellow. Archaeologists and botanists believe that they originate from Central Asia even though research suggests that they were first grown in Iran and West Pakistan. Generally, onions are a good source of fiber, folic acid and vitamin C. They are also cholesterol, sodium and fat free.
The white onion is a type of dry onion that has pure white skin and mild white flesh. It is a long-day storage variety of onions known for it’s bulbous. When cut, the cell walls release a sulphur compound which initiates the production of propanethial-S-oxide into the air which causes tears in the eyes. Although it contains 0.5g of fiber and a higher amount of sulphur, red onions contain a higher amount of many other beneficial nutrients. White onions have a lower content of quercetin which is more in red and yellow onions.
According to the National Onions Association, other important phytochemicals in onions are disulfides, trisulfides, cepaene and vinyldithiins. They all are helpful in maintaining good health and have anticancer and antimicrobial properties. They also contain calcium, iron
Onions are very beneficial for a healthy body because of the compounds they contain. Quercetin, a well-known potent antioxidant helps to neutralize free radicals in the body. This protects body cells from damage and development of cancerous cells. Recent studies show that absorption of quercetin from onions is twice that from tea and three times that from apples (tea and apples are other major of quercetin). Quercetin also has anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is the cause of many diseases, quercetin effectively fight such diseases as atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, stomach ulcers, gout, insulin resistance and skin disorders. Flavonoids in onion are more concentrated in the outer layers of the flesh. ‘Overpeeling’ of the flesh can result in loss of flavonoids which include quercetin and anthocyanin.
Sulfur compounds contained in onions are thought to have anti-clotting properties. They also help to lower triglycerides and cholesterol. The allium and allyl disulphide can decrease stiffness in blood vessels by releasing nitric oxide. This helps to reduce blood pressure, inhibit platelet clot formation and help decrease the risk of coronary artery disease. Ulfur improves the production of collagen tissues which is necessary for the growth of hair. When used in combination with other natural remedies, onion juice can improve circulation of blood to the scalp.
Inulin is a water-soluble dietary fiber found in onions that can serve as a prebiotic. Prebiotics help to nourish beneficial bacteria in the body though they cannot be digested by the human body. These beneficial bacteria (probiotics) then assist with digestion and absorption of foods. Inulin can change the gut microbiota in obese persons, promoting weight loss. Inulin relieves constipation.

By Ifeyinwa Ugo-Amadi


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