The onion, also known as the bulb onion or common onion, a vegetable that is the most widely cultivated species of the genus Allium. It’s close relatives include the garlic, scallion, leek, shallot, chive and Chinese onion. Onions are cultivated and used around the world. As a food item, they are usually served cooked, as a vegetable or part of a prepared savoury dish, but can also be eaten raw or used to make pickles or chutneys.
Onions come in many different sizes, shapes, and colors:
- Brown or yellow onions: These bulbs have brown skin and creamy flesh. They have a strong flavor and a pungent aroma, which make them very popular in cooking.
- Green onions: These are also called spring onions, scallions, or salad onions. These are actually immature onions that are harvested before grown. They have tiny white bulbs and green tops. The roots are typically removed, and the rest of the onion is consumed.
- Red onions: These bulbs have a red-purple skin and white flesh with a red outer layer. They tend to be medium or large. They have a sweet, mild taste and are often enjoyed raw.
- White onions: These bulbs are harvested before completely ripe and only kept for a short period of time. They are not as strongly flavored nor as pungent as brown or yellow onions. They can be used raw or cooked.
Let’s now look at the benefits of onion.
- Oral care. Onions are often used to prevent tooth decay and oral infections. Chewing raw onions for 2 to 3 minutes can potentially kill all the germs present in the oral area and surrounding areas like the throat and lips.
- Treat cough. Consuming an equal mixture of onion juice and honey can relieve sore throats and coughing symptoms.
- Boost immunity. The phytochemicals in onions act as stimulants for vitamin C within the body hence boosting the immune system.
- Reduce the risk of heart ailment. Onions act as anticoagulants, also known as blood thinners, which prevent the red blood cells from forming clumps.
- Manage diabetes. Onions contain chromium, which is a relatively unusual mineral to be found naturally in food. Chromium helps the body manage blood sugar levels and ensures a slow, gradual release of glucose to the muscles and body cells.
- Used as an insect repellent. Apply onion juice to reduce the pain caused by honeybee stings. Fresh onion juice or paste can be used on insect bites and scorpion stings.
- Anticancer potential. Onions are rich in active compounds that successfully inhibit the development and spread of cancerous cells. They have a significant amount of quercetin, which is a powerful antioxidant, linked to the prevention or reduction of the spread of cancer. Also vitamin C which can reduce the presence and impact of free radicals in the body.
- Skin care. Onion juice mixed with honey or olive oil is said to be the best method for treating symptoms or signs of acne. It is anti-inflammatory in nature, so the active compounds can reduce the swelling and redness that is associated with skin conditions like acne. Also onions help reduce the associated pain and inflammation of conditions like gout and arthritis.
- Treat anemia. Eating onions along with jaggery and water because this adds to the mineral content of the body, especially iron, which is an essential part of producing new red blood cells.
- Relieves stomach aches. Onions have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can relieve upset stomach and related gastric syndromes. This is because saponins that are found in onions have anti-spasmodic capabilities that ensure stomach disturbances discontinue.
- Skin irritation. Onions can irritate the skin if they are applied too much as a topical substance.
- Hurt the eyes. As much as onions produce that strong and sharp aroma, it is also painful to the eyes.
- Slow blood clot. People with bleeding disorders should avoid using onions as medicine.
- Hypoglycemia. Diabetic people shouldn’t eat more than the required amount because it can lead to hypoglycemia