Health Benefits of Onion


Introduction to Onion

Onion is a common household vegetable that is cultivated widely all throughout the world. It is broadly used in the food industry for its aromatic and nutritional properties. It is native to Southwest Asia and it belongs to the family “Liliaceae” (scientific name- Allium cepa). Onions are mainly found in temperate regions. They are a versatile ingredient that is often used in many dishes and it is generally accepted by almost all the different cultures and traditions. They are extensively used in the preparation of savory dishes.
Since hundreds of years onions have been used for various medicinal purposes such as lowering high blood pressure, blood glucose levels and cholesterol levels and as an anti-septic. These health benefits of onions are attributed to the presence of two active compounds – cysteine and allyl propyl disulfide (APDS).

Health Benefits of Onions

Onions have a wide range of beneficial effects on the body, especially when eaten raw. Onions are loaded with flavonoids, phytochemicals, antioxidants and many other healthy compounds that are beneficial for human health. Let’s throw some light at the advantages of eating onions.

Lowers High Blood Glucose Levels

Onions contain active compounds that help in lowering high blood glucose levels. Onion consumption stimulates the release of insulin, improves overall insulin action and enhances the uptake of glucose by cells which is further used as a source of energy rather than increasing the blood glucose levels. A study published in 2010 showed that adding 100 grams of raw onion to the diet of individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus reduced the fasting blood glucose levels by 40 mg/dl.

Reduces High Cholesterol Levels

Cysteine, a healthy compound present in onion possesses lipid lowering action. Consumption of onion is associated with lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It further reduces the activity of enzymes that lead to synthesis of fatty acids and triglycerides. Onions also help in lowering total cholesterol levels by increasing the excretion of bile acids from the body. Excess cholesterol from the body is excreted in bile acids, hence removal of bile acids is a good way to lower cholesterol levels. Furthermore, consumption of onion increases the breakdown of fat and helps in improving overall lipid profile.

Onion Helps Lower Cholesterol Level

Anti-Bacterial Activity

Onions contain phytochemicals (plant chemicals that promote good health) that inhibit the growth of bacteria. Studies have revealed that onion and onion juice kill the bacteria and further prevent its growth and spread. Bacteria that cause food-borne illnesses are sensitive to “Allicin”, a compound present in onions. Flavonols, quercetin and kaempferol are some compounds present in onion that possess anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties that fight against bacterial growth.