Onion (Allium cepa) is a bulb plant that belongs to the Liliaceae or lily family and that can grow more than 3 feet (1 meter) high when it is flowering.
Unknown in the wild and cultivated today on all the world’s continents, onion was one of the first food plants domesticated by man.
It is famous also for its great many health benefits and therapeutic properties.
Health benefits of onion
Its appeal lies in its taste as much as in its nutritional value. Whether white, yellow or red, onion is a vegetable and a spice known in foremost for its diuretic, stimulating and antibacterial properties.
- With high levels of polyphenols and containing selenium and copper, onion is a nutritious food with antioxidant properties. It protects the body against free radicals which tend to increase cell aging, seems to reduce occurrence of various cancers and helps straighten the kinks of our immune system and nervous system.
- Onion is also excellent for skin and hair health.
- Thanks to its diuretic properties, raw onion is a good idea for persons suffering of kidney deficiency or prostate disorders.
- Quercetin compounds found in onion are particularly recommended for persons suffering of hypercholesterolemia: connected to a healthy diet, onion has the power to lower “bad” cholesterol levels in the blood.
- Emollient and softening activity of cooked onion makes it an effective expectorant in case of rebellious cough. Moreover, its mucolytic properties have a positive impact in preventing respiratory infections.
- Cooked onion stimulates the appetite and digestion. It helps deal with flatulence and constipation and has “cleansing” properties.
- Used in topical preparations, a slice of raw onion is an effective antibiotic in case of skin infection (boil, paronychia), insect bites, or itchiness thanks to its anti-inflammatory and anti-infectious activity.
Growing onion for its health benefits
- To ensure proper development and maturing of the bulbs, plant your onions in full sun. As for the soil type, avoid clay-laden soil and prefer it light, soft and well drained. Note that onion doesn’t tolerate soil acidity. Best results are in siliceous-clay soil.
- Don’t even try growing it in pots, it wouldn’t feel at ease and growth would be slow.
- In the veggie patch: Succeed in growing onions
Cooking onion for its health benefits
Onion is eaten raw and fresh in mixed salads and sandwiches.
Be careful though, raw onion might not be well digested by persons with a weak digestive tract.
It is a great side and spices up meat and fish and pairs well with most vegetables.
It is a core ingredient of many sauces and pâté.
- Fresh onion bunches don’t keep for more than a week in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator.
- Dried onion on the other hand keeps very well in a dark, dry spot (this avoids germination).
Onion Nutritional content
Onion has very high vitamin, trace elements, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium content.
Smart tip about onions and health
Try to include different varieties in your diet, since their nutritional and health value differs from one variety to the next.
It isn’t that one single variety stands out above all others, but rather that each variety may be a boost to treat different types of ailments.