IMPORTANCE OF ONIONS

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According to the National Onion Association:

Onions probably originated in central Asia, in modern-day Iran and Pakistan. Prehistoric people probably ate wild onions long before farming was invented. Onions may have been among the earliest cultivated crops.

Onions also grew in Chinese gardens as early as 5,000 years ago, and they are referred to in the oldest Vedic writings from India. As early as the sixth century B.C., a medical treatise, the Charaka Sanhita, celebrates the onion as medicine, a diuretic, good for digestion, the heart, the eyes and the joints.

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A Sumerian text dated to about 2500 B.C. tells of someone plowing over the governor’s onion patch. In Egypt, onions were planted as far back as 3500 B.C. They were considered to be objects of worship, and symbolized eternity because of the circle-within-a-circle structure. Paintings of onions appear on the inner walls of pyramids and other tombs.

IMPORTANCE OF ONIONS
IMPORTANCE OF ONIONS

Onions were buried with mummies. Some Egyptologists theorize that onions may have been used because it was believed that their strong scent and/or magical powers would prompt the dead to breathe again.

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Onions are mentioned in the Bible. In Numbers 11:5, the children of Israel lament the meager desert diet enforced by the Exodus: “We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic.”

The Greeks used onions to fortify athletes for the Olympic Games. Before competition, athletes would consume pounds of onions, drink onion juice and rub onions on their bodies.The Romans ate onions regularly. Pedanius Dioscorides, a Roman physician of Greek origin in first century A.D., noted several medicinal uses of onions.

Onion facts

Slicing onions makes you cry because when you cut into it, the onion produces a sulfur-based gas. The gas reacts with the water in your eyes and forms sulfuric acid. To rid your eyes of this fiery irritant, your tear ducts work overtime. For no more (or fewer) tears, try moving your face farther away from the onion so the gas disperses before reaching your eyes.

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Another suggestion for reducing tears is to first chill the onions for 30 minutes. Then, cut off the top and peel the outer layers leaving the root end intact.

Bulb onions are yellow, red or white. In the United States, yellow onions make up about 87 percent of the commercial onion crop; red onions are 8 percent; white onions, 5 percent.

IMPORTANCE OF ONIONS
IMPORTANCE OF ONIONS

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Onions range in size from less than 1 inch to more than 4.5 inches in diameter. The most common sizes sold in U.S. markets are 2 to 3.75 inches.

Scallions, or green onions, are actually immature yellow, red or white onions, harvested before the bulb begins to form. “Spring onions” and “salad onions” are other aliases for immature onions.

A scallion is not a shallot. This misnomer probably occurs because “échalion” is another name for the shallot, derived from the French échalote. Shallots have a distinctive taste, but the flavor is closer to that of mature onions than to that of scallions.

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The largest onion ever grown weighed 10 lbs. 14 ounces (about 5 kilograms), according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

Recently, health researchers have noticed a relationship between messaging molecules called oxylipins and high cholesterol management. A 2016 study in the journal Redox Biology found that consuming onions increases oxylipins that help regulate blood fat levels and levels of cholesterol.

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The quercetin in onions may also help prevent plaque buildup in the arteries, which reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. But since most of the studies in this regard have focused on animals, more research is needed to understand the effects in humans.

IMPORTANCE OF ONIONS
IMPORTANCE OF ONIONS

Health Benefits:

Anti-inflammatory

Onions’ sulfurs may be effective anti-inflammatory agents, according to a 1990 study in the journal International Archives of Allergy and Applied Immunology.

Quercetin has been found to relax the airway muscles and may provide relief of asthma symptoms, according to a 2013 study in the American Journal of Physiology.

 

Skin and hair

As a good source of vitamin C, onions may support the building and maintenance of collagen.Collagen provides structure to skin and hair.

Blood pressure moderation

A 2019 review found that quercetin, a compound in onion skin, had links to lower blood pressure when the researchers extracted it and administered it as a supplement. However, the study did not examine the potential effects on blood pressure of eating onion as part of the diet rather than taking quercetin in supplement form.

IMPORTANCE OF ONIONS

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Immune system

“The polyphenols in onions act as antioxidants, protecting the body against free radicals,” said Anne Mauney, a dietitian based in Washington, D.C. eliminating free radicals can help encourage a strong immune system. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the quercetin in onions also reduces allergic reactions by stopping your body from producing histamines, which are what make you sneeze, cry and itch if you’re having an allergic reaction.

Cancer

A 2015 meta-analysis found that intake of allium vegetables, including onions, were associated with reduced gastric cancer risk. According to World’s Healthiest Foods from the George Mateljan Foundation, eating between one and seven servings of onions per week may help reduce the risk of colorectal, laryngeal and ovarian cancer. Eating several servings of onions a day may help decrease the risk of oral and esophageal cancer.

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Quercetin may be a powerful anti-cancer agent, according to Jarzabkowski. The University of Maryland Medical Center said that quercetin may especially inhibit cancer cells in “breast, colon, prostate, ovarian, endometrial, and lung tumors.”

The National Onion Association discussed a recent study from the Netherlands that showed that people who ate onions absorbed twice as much quercetin as those who drank tea, and more than three times as much quercetin as those who ate apples, which are other high-quercetin sources. Red onions are especially high in quercetin, according to the association. Shallots and yellow onions are also good options. White onions contain the least amount of quercetin and other antioxidants.

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Onions may help with some side effects from cancer treatments, as well. A 2016 study published in Integrative Cancer Therapies found that consuming fresh yellow onion helped lessen insulin resistance and hyperglycemia in breast cancer patients undergoing a form of chemotherapy known to cause insulin resistance.

 

Digestion 

The fiber in onions promotes good digestion and helps keep you regular. Additionally, onions contain a special type of soluble fiber called oligofructose, which promotes good bacteria growth in your intestines. One 2005 study in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology found that oligofructose may help prevent and treat types of diarrhea. The phytochemicals in onions that scavenge free radicals may also reduce your risk of developing gastric ulcers, according to the National Onion Association.

Regulating blood sugar

The chromium in onions assists in regulating blood sugar. The sulfur in onions helps lower blood sugar by triggering increased insulin production. One 2010 study in the journal Environmental Health Insights revealed that this might be especially helpful to people with people with diabetes. People with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes who ate red onions showed lower glucose levels for up to four hours.

IMPORTANCE OF ONIONS

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Health risks

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While not especially serious, eating onions can cause problems for some people. The carbohydrates in onions may cause gas and bloating, according to National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Onions, especially if consumed raw, can worsen heartburn in people who suffer from chronic heartburn or gastric reflux disease, according to one 1990 study in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Eating a large amount of green onions or rapidly increasing your consumption of green onions may interfere with blood thinning drugs, according to the University of Georgia. Green onions contain a high amount of vitamin K, which can decrease blood thinner functioning.

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It is also possible to have a food intolerance or an allergy to onions, but cases are rare, according to an article in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. People with onion allergies may experience red, itchy eyes and rashes if an onion comes into contact with the skin. People with an intolerance to onions may experience nausea, vomiting and other gastric discomfort.

Lastly, Jarzabkowski encouraged people to make sure their onions are fresh. “Onions keep for a long time,” she said, “but they still spoil.” Onions spoil much faster if they are chopped or sliced. If you cut up your onions for later use, be sure to refrigerate them in a closed container. A 2015 study found that unrefrigerated yellow onions.

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Why does chopping onions cause tears?

Onions have a reputation for making people cry during the cutting or chopping process. This response occurs due to the presence of a gas called syn-Propanethial-S-oxide.

This chemical is a compound liquid that acts as a lachrymatory agent, meaning that it causes tears or stings the eyes.

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To reduce tears during chopping, the National Onion Association recommend chilling an onion for 30 minutes then cutting off its top. The person should then peel the outer layer of the onion and leave the root intact, as this part has the highest concentration of lachrymatory agents.

Despite the tears that they can produce, onions can be a healthful addition to any eating plan. However, a person’s overall eating pattern is most important in disease prevention and good health.

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