Onions along with garlic are members of the Allium family both packed with sulfur compounds making them health beneficial and responsible for the pungent scent. Dr. Russell Jaffe highly recommends onions as a staple food along with eggs, ginger, garlic and brassica sprouts for proper production of glutathione in the body.
In general, onions is considered a superfood due to its many health benefits including cardiovascular benefits meaning it is a heart-friendly food, bone and connective tissues, anti-inflammatory agent, protection against cancer plus load of other health benefits such as boosting the immune system.
Onions have low GI(glycemic index) and a cup of chopped onions contains the following(see image below). Now, a cup of onions may be too much, but the key is to eat it regularly in moderate amount. An onion a day is a good starting point.
Just like other fruits or vegetables touted superfoods, onions share similar characteristics that are very common to them and that is their dark-colored skin or peel. These foods usually taste either bitter or sweet.
On the fruit group, these include the berries like goji, acai, cranberries and blueberries, while on the vegetable groups they comprise of dark leafy green vegetables like wheatgrass, collard greens, spirulina, and kale. The only thing that differs onions from their skin or peel is that onion skins are so thin like papers. With the exception of the green leafy vegetables, of course, that don’t need to be peeled when eaten.
Another great thing about onions is that you’ll never throw out its peels again. The reason, one study1 2 suggests that onion trimmings and skins when prepared in a certain way could be rich source of dietary fiber and antioxidants.
Dietary fibers and antioxidants are among the nutrients have pushed the popularity of superfoods. In that study, not only onion trimmings and skins were found to have health benefits, but also rare fruits touted as superfruits like mangosteen and pomegranate showed the same characteristics, and are potentially rich sources for beneficially healthy compounds.
The results showed that each waste would have a profit. Thus, brown skin and top–bottom could be potentially used as functional ingredient rich in dietary fiber, mainly the insoluble fraction, and in total phenolics and flavonoids with high antioxidant activity.
In huge industrial scale usage of onions, it generates millions of pounds of waste. If these waste could be used and prepared in a proper way, there will be no more waste by converting them into a digestible food benefiting both human and environment.
In another study3 researchers found that extracts of red and white onions are potent therapeutic phytomedicines due to its natural source of antioxidants and antifungal agent.
The screening of antioxidant and antifungal activity performed on Allium cepa bulb extracts, which is traditionally used as herbs, shows that they are endowed with potentially exploitable free radical scavenging and antifungal activity.
Phytochemical constituents and total phenolic contents (quercetin and kaempferol) present in the onion varieties could have contributed for the efficient inhibition of fungal growth. Hence, bulb extracts of Allium cepa varieties could be used as an easily accessible source of natural antioxidants, and antifungal agent and therefore, onion bulb can be used as one of the effective therapeutic phytomedicines.
However, additional purifications of the active compounds and in vivo evaluation of antioxidant and antifungal along with toxicity studies of the extracts from Allium cepa are suggested for further studies.
Watch the amazing life journey of an onion!