Onion, that powerful pungent bulb that makes food taste so good is also good for you. A boatload of studies have documented that onions contain many compounds shown to be beneficial for numerous conditions. Recent research has found that onion extract has strong action against high blood sugar and total cholesterol levels.
Lead researcher Anthony Ojieh MD and his team gave anti-diabetic drug Metformin and varying doses of onion extract to three groups of rats with induced diabetes to find out if it would enhance the effects of the drug in controlling the condition.
The team discovered that 400 and 600mg doses per day of onion extract could boost the reduction of fasting blood sugar levels in the diabetic rats by as much as 50 percent above and beyond what Metformin alone could do. Total cholesterol levels in the diabetic rats treated with the extract were also reduced. These study results were presented to the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in San Diego.
Dr. Ojieh commented, “Onion is cheap and available and has been used as a nutritional supplement. It has the potential for use in treating patients with diabetes.”
The Mighty Bulb has Broad-Spectrum Benefits
Multiple human studies have shown onion is protective of the heart and blood vessels, and can ward off heart attack when it’s consumed in a diet rich in other fruits and vegetables.
What’s more, eating onions can help increase bone density and restoration of lost bone, and lower risk of hip fractures. To get the most bone benefits, onions should be eaten daily. Onion’s high content of sulfur brings benefits to connective tissue as well. Many connective tissue components require sulfur for their formation.
Garlic may be the king for reducing inflammation, but onion is not far behind. A unique sulfur molecule in onion is able to inhibit the activity of macrophages, white blood cells important to immunity. One of their defenses involves triggering large-scale inflammation. Though macrophage activity is normally a good thing, taming this activity may be critical to getting chronic inflammation in control.
Onions are also rich in antioxidants which include a flavonoid known as quercetin. Although this flavonoid has several actions in the body, it is arguably best known as the master of weight loss. Research has found that quercetin reduces the accumulation of fat in human fat cells and triggers the demise of existing fat cells.
Eaten in only moderate amounts once or twice a week, onions can reduce risk of cancer, particularly colorectal, laryngeal, and ovarian cancers. What amount is considered moderate? The George Mateljan Foundation’s World’s Healthiest Foods says,
“The overall take-away from this research seems clear: you do not want to err on the side of small onion servings or infrequent onion intake if you want to obtain the full cancer-related benefits of onions. A few slivers of sliced onion on a tossed salad are a good thing, but probably not enough to provide you with the cancer-related onion benefits that you are seeking.”
Check out other awesome health benefits of onions here.
Getting More Onion into Your Diet
Red onions are a great source of health-promoting anthocyanins. This makes them ideal for use in salads, sandwiches and salsa.
Most of the benefits of onions can be had whether they are eaten raw or cooked. For summer grilling, cut an onion in half and butter the cut sides. Place them cut side down on the barbecue to cook until soft. Use sautéed onions in salads and on sandwiches, and when autumn comes make onion soup a regular.
The flavonoids in onion are more concentrated in the outer layers of the bulb, so when peeling, remove only the papery outer skin. A red onion can lose 20 percent of its quercetin and as much as 75 percent of its anthocyanins from careless peeling.