Onion - My Health Companion

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Onion - My Health Companion

I've already told you about onion as a remedy for nasal congestion and sinus, now I'd like to mention its culinary features and some other valuable properties.

Onion enjoys a special place in my kitchen culture. Chopped onions with tomatoes; sliced onions with tomatoes and spicy onion soup are common onion recipes I prefer.

Though onion historically found its way from Asia to the West through Egypt, onion found its way into my kitchen only after I discovered its extraordinary nutrient profile with a battery of polyphenol phyto-nutrients, especially the flavonoid polyphenols.

The flavinoid Quercetin is the most important of all and has been shown to have antimicrobial or antiseptic property. Laboratory studies have proved their antimicrobial activity against bacterial species like Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus, Porphyromonas gingivalis and Prevotella intermedia that cause tooth cavities and gum infections.

Onion also contains a substantial quantity of allyl sulfides that help strengthen the connective tissues especially in formation of tissue components like glycosaminoglycans that require sulfur for their formation. These sulfur compounds in onion also possess anti-clotting properties and inhibit clumping of platelets in blood making onion an excellent cardiovascular health promoter. These sulfur phyto-nutrients can lower your blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels substantially. In fact, I am obliged to inform you that the pungent odor of onion is primarily due to these sulfur rich compounds.

I was rather surprised to note that onion has been scientifically shown to lower the risk of cancer. The anti-cancer properties of onion are being investigated on colorectal, laryngeal, ovarian cancer, oral and esophageal cancer. Onion is also a rich source of potassium, manganese, molybdenum, Vitamin B6, folate, Vitamin C and fiber that are known anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agents.

I should mention here that the quercetin flavonoids in onion are concentrated in the outer layers of the flesh and a bit of "over peeling" may cause loss of these valuable flavonoids. So, take care to peel off as little of the fleshy, edible portion to maximize health benefits.

It is wonderful to note that the quercetin does not get degraded when onions are simmered to make soup; instead gets transferred into the water part of the soup. Love eating onions even if the gas Propanthial S-oxide in them cause eye irritation and make you cry while cutting or peeling them.

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