Onions are an amazing food, and their use in herbal medicine has spanned centuries. Onions are a favorite of many chefs due to their aromatic properties and their ability to add flavors. Onions come in many different varieties and are grown across the globe. Onions are a member of the lily family, which also includes other foods such as leaks, chives, garlic and shallots. I wanted to do a blog on the health benefits of onions, as they are one of my favorite foods, and because they have the ability to enhance health in some pretty amazing ways!
Onions are effective against some very harmful forms of bacteria including salmonella and E. coli due to their antimicrobial properties. Onions have both anti-septic and antibacterial properties and have been used for centuries in Chinese medicine to treat bacterial infections. Naturopathic practitioners often use onions to treat illnesses including coughs, colds, and asthma.
Studies have shown that onions can lower both cholesterol and blood pressure, similar to garlic (which again is in the same family as onions). More research has been conducted on garlic in this area, yet studies conducted using onions have yielded similar results. Both onions and garlic contain sulfides, which scientist report is the main property behind their ability to lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
Onions contain flavonoids which are important in cardiovascular health and can also reduce the risk of blood clotting. Onions have a higher concentration of flavonoids in the outer layers, so it is recommended that you remove as few layers as possible for consumption in order to gain the most health benefits.
Onions also have a relatively high fiber content. Fiber is important in digestion and can also aid in weight management. Onions are also high in both vitamins C and B6, and are a good natural source of iron.
Onions are linked to increases in bone density and are high in antioxidants. The positive health benefits of antioxidants are well documented, as they have an ability to reduce the number of free radicals in our bodies, which can lead to disease and cellular death. Onions, even when eaten in moderate amounts, have been linked to a marked decrease in risks of cancers including ovarian, colorectal and laryngeal types due to containing the flavonoid quercetin.
One area that I have become increasingly interested in is the research results linking onions to increased testosterone levels in males. This can become a serious problem in males after the age of 30. Low testosterone is linked to decrease sexual performance, loss of muscle mass and strength, hair loss, fatigue and other health issues. A research study conducted at Tabriz University in Iran using rats found that fresh onion juice can raise testosterone levels by 300%. This study linked onion juice to a reduction in a product in the body called malodialdehyde, which is the by-product of damage occurring from free radicals on unsaturated fatty acids. The February 2009 issue of the journal Folia Morphologica also reports that onions have a positive effect on testosterone levels.
If you aren’t already, start adding onions into your diet by including them on sandwiches, in salads, and other dishes you make in order to take advantage of these amazing health benefits! Nutrition is paramount in living a healthy lifestyle and onions are a great ways ensure we are giving our body the nutrients it needs, as well as, a preventative means of avoiding serious health issues down the road.
In Wellness and Love, Dr. Chris