Why Are Onions Healthy? The Answer Is Easy Yet Complex. Find Out Here.

Have you ever questioned yourself: Why are onions healthy if you smell not too good for some time after eating them? And they have such a strong and spicy flavor, how could they be healthy? Or maybe you just do not like the crisp taste of raw onions, because you cannot chew on them very well because of their texture?

And maybe this is the food that your child does not want by any means in their food. And maybe you strongly dislike the aftertaste of this vegetable?

If you like or dislike this easy-to-have-vegetable, you will find out some interesting facts about one of my all-time favorite vegetable. I believe onions are the most known vegetable in the whole world and they were well-known thousands of years and have been used by most cultures around the worlds.

A Little History About Onions

It is not exactly clear where onions were first found. Historians believe they might have their origins in central Asia, like Pakistan.

However, we find onions rather often throughout history, for example, in the Bible we are told that the Israelite remembered the good food they had back when they lived in Egypt, and interestingly, onions are on the list of foods they lamented not having any more. (See Number 11:5 for reference)

What is strange though is how onions would be part of a daily diet of so many cultures when they have so few calories? Back when the Israelite were slaves in Egypt, they had to do hard work to build all the bricks and transport them to different places. Who could withstand cold winters or the heat in the summer for many years, when they were slaves? Could it be that they used onions because of their contributions to the immune system? Did they know about their medicinal properties?

In the Roman empire, it looks like onions would have had a special place in the Roman cuisine, as much as for the rich as for the poor. They were widely known for wedding presents. An interesting thing to give as a present at a wedding, but they were cheap, everybody seems to have had them and used them.

Historians studying the Egyptian culture have found that onions were also used in their rituals because they believed in the magical powers of the strong scent which could be helpful in the afterlife. You would find paintings of the priests with onions in their hands quite often, a sign that this was a vegetable that they loved to eat, but also use in their rites.

Onions grow in all kinds of soils, are easy to grow, can be stored for a long time, but can also easily be transported, which was done quite often in earlier days, which explains why it is hard to know where onions come from.

There are also quite a few kinds of wild onions, which were discovered by the Pilgrims when they arrived in New England back in the 16th century. They brought their own onions all the way from England on their long journey, just to find out that there were plenty of onions growing in their new country, which had been used to a long time by the Indians.

Today, onions are still used for their healing powers. As I stated, onions were used widely in the whole world, maybe for their healing powers, maybe for their taste, and maybe because that was the only thing they would often have in the winter when nothing else would grow. We have no answer to those questions, but I firmly believe that onions are healthy and should be a part of our regular diet.

Let’s find out why.

Nutritional Value of Onions

When we first look at the components of onions, we would not believe that it can be that healthy, because there is no vitamin or mineral or any other nutritional value that stands out in them. This is, they have a little of everything as studies have found out. They have very small quantities of all vitamins (except B12), they contribute very little of the daily required protein intake, and there is almost no fat found in them.

The minerals of onions contribute to creating the alkaline reaction when it goes into the bloodstream. This is one thing onions are notable for: The alkalizing effect helps to get rid of toxins in your body and also wastes.

This is the most notorious value of onions regarded to the nutrients they give to the body. However, there are many non-nutritional facts about the onion that makes it my superfood.

Non-Nutritional Values of Onions

Essential Oil

What happens when you cut an onion? You start to cry because the aroma or the essential oil of onions evaporates very quickly and is very strong. The composition of this so-called essential oil is very complex: There are over one hundred different substances found in them that makes it great. You have heard about the value of all kinds of essential oils. Well, this is cheap oil with healing powers. Maybe you have heard about cutting an onion and putting it beside your bed when you have a bad cold or a cough to alleviate symptoms. An easy way to use them. But wait, we are not yet to the part why we should eat them or why onions are healthy for you and me.

Flavonoids

Onions have flavonoids, the substance that makes our blood circulation easier and prevents clots.

I remember vividly when I was a child and my aunt told me to eat my onions because they would help me with my circulation. As small kids do, I followed the advice, not knowing what she was talking about. She had some knowledge about science that makes so much sense today. (…and I am glad I learned to eat onions because you have gotten used to them)

The flavonoids together with the essential oil properties make onions invaluable healing superfoods: They are antibiotics, anti-asthma, heart defenders, artery strengtheners, and even anti-tumor. Wow, those are mighty properties!

Other non-nutritional values of onions

Onions provide the body with a good number of great enzymes, which, as you know, are an aid to the digestive system (but have many other functions).

Have you heard that people with diabetes should eat onions? Here is the reason why: Glucokinase is among the hormones that reduce blood sugar levels, and onions are well-known to give them to our bodies.

After we eat onions, it takes only a few minutes for our breath to change significantly because the essential oil, described above, evaporates through our lungs, and eventually through the stomach. This effect breaks-up the mucus that is built in our bronchial tube, helping to speed up recovery from a bad cough or cold. Sinusitis and pneumonia quickly improve when eaten raw (preferably).

I said before that onions are known for their anti-asthma properties. The effect it has on breathing when you have sinusitis (clearing up thick mucus) also is found to alleviate asthma symptoms. It is especially known to help children with asthma. The effect lasts for a full twelve hours.

Studies have found that people who consume onions and apples regularly (because of their flavonoids) have less risk to die from a heart attack. Again, they prevent blood clots.

Onions are healthy for you because they help get rid of waste, not only through your kidneys, by increasing the volume of urine, but also by cleaning your liver of toxins and waste.

And lastly, but very importantly, the properties of an onion helps reduce the risk of stomach cancer, found in a research done in China. Other studies also suggest that it reduces the risk for colon cancer.

As you see, this superfood is different from others in the sense that it does not give much to the body, but it does much for the body; your body does not receive many nutrients when consuming them, but it aids your body in many important processes to keep you healthy.

With so many heart diseases nowadays, onions should be an inseparable part of our diet.

How To Eat Them?

Well, eat onions raw! This sounds a bit disgusting and you may not like me for saying that, especially when you think of going out for a date, or going to a meeting, or working with your kids in the classroom. However, here is what you can do to lower the strong smell. Give them a generous lemon “bath”. Squeeze a lemon or two over them and it will greatly help.  However, eat them raw when you are not going out.  You must not eat them raw every day.  But get used to it.  Even one slice can already do the trick.

Caution: People that suffer from gastric ulcers should not eat them raw.

Cooking them in water is another option that I do quite often, although the healing powers are drastically reduced. You can even cook a large onion in your soups, take it out after the soup is ready, put it on your table and leave it for the ones that love to eat them. The taste after cooking is great and not as spicy anymore.

Cutting my onions in slices to grill them outside or bake in the oven.

Another way I use onions, that is my personal favorite is baking them. I cut my onions into circles, put a little salt, margarine and soy sauce on them and wrap each piece into foil and bake until tender. Very easy to do when grilling your favorite steak outside on a picnic day: Throw the wrapped in foil onions onto the grill and let them sit until tender. An absolute hit for me and my family as well as friends.

If you cannot grill outside because of cold wintertime, do the same inside in your oven. Easy to prepare, but provides you with great health benefits.

There are some people that cook onions in water until tender, then pound them until you form a paste, add honey and eat for healing power. That is another great way to use, especially to help kids with asthma or with a bad cough. Since kids refuse to eat them, added honey can do the trick to convince them, instead of giving them medicine.

(Please note that I am not suggesting onions as a substitute for prescribed medicine for asthma symptoms, cough or cold – just offering advice of what could alleviate symptoms naturally).

If your kids do not like onions, the easiest way to incorporate them into their diet (when they are not sick) is to cut them as small as possible and when you prepare them with any food, just throw some into it and they will be so tender and small that they go rather unnoticed. That is what my mom used to do with us. Quite effective. She often told us how we believed there were no onions in our tacos, but the onions were always present.

 

And there you have it! Onions can be found in my pantry all year round, either picked in our own small organic garden or bought locally. And they are not only found in my pantry. We eat onions in most of our meals daily. In the morning for omelets, scrambled eggs, for lunch in soups, salads, stirs, with our rice, baked with our meats, grilled with steaks, and for supper alike.

You can use them in unlimited ways and your body will thank you for it.

Please leave a comment on how you incorporate onions in your diet. I also love to hear things that you learned and that you liked the information I provided you in this article. Also, questions are welcome and I will be back to you to answer as good as possible.

Have a great day,

Oscar

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20 Comments Add yours
  1. I am a fitness advocate and I found your article very interesting! The history of the Onion was amazing, and I never knew that they originated in Pakistan and Central Asia. Also, I never knew that onions contains alkaline and oils that are health. I will incorporate onions more into my meals!

    I will comeback for more knowledge about health, thank you!

    1. Thank you for stopping by and leaving me a comment.  I am always happy to help people and even if it is with small bits of useful information on how to incorporate healthy foods into the diet.  

      Please come back and see new things on my site.

      Oscar

  2. Wow! There is a lot of fascinating facts about onions that I definitely didn’t know before reading our post. It’s good to know that flavenoids in onions are beneficial for the immune system and circulation. I should have been eating more onions when I had a respiratory infection! I love the taste of onions, raw or cooked, and will have to try your idea of baking them in the oven with some olive oil and sea salt (yum!). Do you know if onions and garlics are similar in their healing properties? Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thanks for commenting on this article about onions.  It is good to know that there are people who love raw onions.  (Shake hands with you:-).  I do too.  

      And yes, garlic and onions do share some health benefits.  For instance, they are both great for circulation and to prevent heart disease.  They also fight cancer to some degree.  

      Please come back soon to learn about garlic, on which I will be elaborating soon.

      Thanks again for stopping by,

      Oscar

  3. Hi Oscar, Very interesting and informative article about onions. Who knew onions had such qualities. It’s amazing how many benefits the simple onion has. I will remember how to use an onion when you have a cold. I had never heard that before. Very detailed article about onions. Thanks, Deanna

    1. Hi Deanna, I am glad you learned something from this post and took away new ideas to try in your daily chores. Yes, onions are great for colds, so try that out, especially in this seasons of colds!

      Have a great one,

      Oscar

  4. This was a wonderful read. I do not think I could eat onions raw, but baking them sounds quite delicious. It is good to know that one of my favorite vegetables is good for you. Whenever I have a veggie burger or soup, I usually put onions on top. It makes the meal much more delicious.

    I do have a question though. What is your favorite onion based recipe? When I cook, I sometimes forget to use it, but your article has made me hungry for them. Anything would work, so long as it has a distinct onion taste. I look forward to hearing your answer.

    Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

    1. That is a great question! And I know, eating them raw can be a challenge for people. I use onions almost in every meal, like some people use garlic almost everywhere. But one favorite of mine with raw onions is a strawberry salad. I have no specific measurement, it all depends on how you like it. I put fresh spinach, strawberries, almonds, avocado and raw red onion (cut into small pieces in a bowl and mix. Since I like my salads without dressings, that is all I put and I love that taste. If you like dressings, raspberry vinaigrette is the perfect combination. This salad is not just my favorite, but a family treat as well. And there is so much good stuff in it, so I eat I regularly.

      I would love to hear your thoughts on it and love for you make this salad and see how you like it. You can always twist and tweak it to your taste. But raw onions combine very well in this setting.

      A meal that we love with a distinct onion taste are fajitas. I’d prepare them as normally, but put quite a lot of onions in them together with bell peppers. I usually put more of vegetables than meat into fajitas.

      And an ok time favorite is a typical Mexican dish: Beans. I cook beans with a little salt, then in a pan, I sauté onions and jalapeños in coconut oil, and use that as a dressing for my beans. And cover with a little shredded cheese. This is a thing my mom made years ago when I was a child and I continue to make it myself. Absolutely delicious.

      Hope I gave you some ideas. Although these are simple examples, but I need those simple things because of my hectic lifestyle. I need healthy but fast, if that is possible.

      Have fun cooking with onions.

      Oscar

  5. I didn’t know onions were so powerful!

    I love eating chicken cheesesteaks and I ALWAYS get fried onions on it.

    I see you recommend eating them raw but I suffer from ulcers so I won’t be doing that.. thanks for the heads up 🙂

    1. I am glad you learned something from this article. It is too bad that you cannot eat them raw because of ulcers; good thing though that you can have them fried, cooked, steamed, baked and other methods. Wish you luck and all the best, Oscar

  6. Wow, just.. wow! And here was I thinking they were just onions! Now, that’s got to be one of the most informative posts on onions I’ve ever seen.
    Thank you Oscar for digging out these nuggets of information, they are much appreciated

    1. Thank you! I appreciate when people receive helpful information no a healthy lifestyle, which I am currently trying to go for. And yes, I also learn when doing my research about it. Onions are great food and we should eat them on a daily basis (like I already do and have done for years). Please come back for more interesting posts in the near future.

      Oscar

  7. Another great blog by my weight loss hero. How’s the weight loss going? Me? Not so good. Can’t seem to get the discipline. I eat way to much bread. Onions are great baked, my favorite too. Send me a link on your exercise regime. Liked you on Facebook. Keep up the good work. Il’ll keep following you and hopefully get into action myself. Need to lose 15kg.

    1. Thank you Dave for your uplifting words.  I hope you can get into the idea of losing weight and working on it.  I am now 34 lbs down, around 15 kgs.  That is an achievement and I am sticking to it very well.  The best thing about it is that I feel so well when I eat correctly.  Are There Any Tricks To Lose Weight Fast? Find Out The Truth About Fast Weight Loss.  Please go ahead and read this article on how I eat.  And you know what, I currently do not exercise because of this: Exercise And Weight Loss. Why I Don’t Exercise While Losing Weight.  I need to go down another 20 or so kgs.  Come on, we can do it.  Lets go the journey together and you will see it will work.

      All the best, Oscar

  8. WOw, great article, very well illustrated and really nicely explained, I never know onions could be that healthy as far as nutrition is concerned. great work…

    1. Thanks, I took the pictures myself:-) Still need to work on my photography skills, but… Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts about this post. Hope you learned something and are able to go the onion road to a healthier lifestyle. Again, thanks for leaving a comment.

      All the best,
      Oscar

  9. Onions are a fantastic vegetable and everyone should eat them. They go well with so many other foods so it is great to keep them round the house for convenience. I love that you raised everyone’s attention to how great they are for circulation. They are truly nature’s gift, thank you!

    1. Hi Peter,

      definitely. Healthy blood circulation is a mighty component for being healthy and feeling well. I find it so great that onions are the vegetables that actually help our body do its functions instead of providing with lots of vitamins and minerals. And if you think about heart health, that is crucial for today!

      Oscar

    1. Have you tried still other ways to eat them and incorporate them into your diet? Would be interesting to know if there are still other ways to prepare them.

      Oscar

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