They come in red, yellow, and white; they can be savory or sweet; and the best ones make you cry. Onions are a staple in any good kitchen not only for cooking, but for boosting the family’s health. Here are just a few reasons to include onions in your diet.
The health benefits of onions are unmistakable – onions are loaded vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, in particular something called quercetin. Quercetin is a compound that has led some to say the layered bulbs are even better for you than so-called “super fruits” like goji berries and blueberries.
Onions and Quercetin
Quercetin is a flavonoid that has both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It has gained recognition for combating issues like high blood pressure, cancer, inflammation, and stroke.
Like other flavonoid-rich foods, onions have been used in traditional medicine around the world. Even though flavonoids themselves weren’t discovered until the 1930’s, the benefits of onions have been recognized long before. Emerging research on the power of quercetin only strengthens the case for onions as both preventative medicine and a corrective treatment.
One study looked at the effects of quercetin supplements on obese and overweight patients—those which have an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease. The researchers found that supplementing with only 150 milligrams of quercetin daily was enough to lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol oxidation. In other words, it was shown to help prevent cardiovascular disease. To put this in perspective—the average quercetin supplement contains 500 milligrams, while a particularly potent onion may contain 100 milligrams.
Other research has linked quercetin with cancer-prevention. Like other flavonoids, quercetin has been shown to inhibit the growth of breast, prostate, ovarian, endometrial, colon, and lung cancer. According to the University of Maryland, one study indicates that quercetin may be more effective than resveratrol at slowing and even stopping tumor growth.
Additional potential benefits of quercetin like that found in onions is indicated in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, prostatitis, and other inflammatory diseases.
To experience the most quercetin-bang from your onions, choose the most savory ones, in particular the red and yellow ones. Keep as much of the outer layers on as possible, as this is where you will find the highest concentration of flavonoids. Remove the papery outermost layer and keep the flesh in tact. Add them just about anywhere—from soups to salads—and enjoy the many benefits.