While the taste may not be for everyone, onions have been studied widely for how they can improve your health and reduce the risk of various chronic diseases. Here are some of the possible benefits they could provide:
1. Flavor without baggage
Looking for a way to make your daily cooking tastier without leaving a dent on your health? Onions are a pretty good candidate if you enjoy a mild spicy flavor.
Victoria Jarzabkowski, a nutritionist with the Fitness Institute of Texas at the University of Texas, noted that they are "excellent sources of vitamin C, sulphuric compounds, flavonoids, and phytochemicals," to name a few.
"I like to recommend eating onions because they add flavor without salt and sugar," Jarzabkowski told Live Science. Estimated to contain only 45 calories per serving, they also contain no fat.
2. Heart-healthy properties
Something else that onions lack? Cholesterol. As we know, LDL cholesterol can accumulate along the walls of the arteries. The buildup may result in a blood clot, increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
It is said that sulfur-containing phytochemicals from onions can even reduce the amount of LDL in the blood. This has been demonstrated in animal studies where levels dipped by almost 20 percent without affecting HDL levels.
3. Reducing cancer risk
According to a 2017 study from the University of Guelph, red onions may have a "cancer-fighting power," as they contain high amounts of quercetin and anthocyanin. "We found onions are excellent at killing cancer cells," said lead author Abdulmonem Murayyan.
"Onions activate pathways that encourage cancer cells to undergo cell death. They promote an unfavorable environment for cancer cells and disrupt communication between cancer cells, which inhibits growth," he explained. However, more research is required to determine the extent of these benefits in actual human trials.
4. Beneficial bacteria
Due to the presence of a prebiotic fiber known as inlulin, consuming onion can help maintain "good bacteria" in your gut. The fiber is essentially a source of food for bacteria according to a 2018 study from King's College London.
The vegetable also contains a compound called fructo-oligosaccharides that can "stimulate the growth of bifidobacteria which suppress the growth of potentially harmful bacteria in the colon," as noted by Joe Schwarcz, Ph.D., of McGill University.
5. Regulating blood sugar
Patients with diabetes may want to include onions in their diet if they do not already. Allium cepa, an extract of onion bulb, has shown potential in lowering high blood glucose when tested in animal studies.
Though the mechanism is not yet clear, it has been suggested that the sulfur in onions may be responsible by promoting an increase in production of insulin.
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