The origin of the onions is believed to come from central Asia where modern-day Pakistan and Iran are. They have been one of the earliest cultivated crops.
The onions have been grown in gardens in China as early as 5,000 years ago and have been mentioned in the oldest Vedic writings from India. Sometime in the early sixth century B.C. there has been a medical treatise called the Charaka Sanhita which used this vegetable as a beneficial natural medicine as a diuretic, remedy for the eyes, digestion, and joints.
Far back as 3500 B.C., onions have been planted in Egypt and were worshiped as symbols of eternity because of their circular structure. Many paintings of onions have been seen on the inner walls of tombs and pyramids.
Due to their strong scent, onions were buried together with mummies because they thought the scent had magical powers which would cause the dead to start breathing again.
The Bible also mentions the onions and the Greeks used the vegetable in order to prepare athletes for the Olympic Games. The Romans also ate this vegetable on a regular basis, using its many medicinal properties. They also used them to treat dog bites, poor vision, toothaches, lumbago, mouth sores, sleep issues, and dysentery.
This vegetable was one of the three main vegetables of European cuisine by The Middle Ages with cabbage and beans. They were also used to treat snakebites, headaches, and hair loss.
The Pilgrims also brought onions on the Mayflower but found that the Native Americans already used wild onions in many ways.
Onions have many rich nutrients and properties such as vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and amino acids. Belonging to the Allium genus, onions are together with scallions, chives, garlic, and leeks.
The vegetable can have many varieties and all of them have many benefits. The bulb of the onion can be white, red, or yellow. Its taste can also vary from sweet and mild to pungent and sharp.
Onions contain numerous nutrients such as vitamins and minerals such as:
Vitamin C – Fortifies the immune system and improves hair and skin health.
Vitamin B6 – Essential for forming the red blood cells.
Potassium – This mineral can lower the blood pressure and help with heart health.
Folate (B9) – Important for growing cells and metabolism. It can especially help women during pregnancy.
Onions have a high amount of amino acids like threonine, leucine, phenylalanine, and lysine. All of these are crucial for the metabolic process of the body.
Large scallions, or sometimes referred as green onions, provide 52 mcg of Vitamin K (65% RDI), 4.7 mg of Vitamin C (8% RDI), and all essential amino acids that the other onions also contain.
Additionally, onions contain high amounts of unique antioxidants and dietary flavonoids. One kilogram of yellow onions contains about 270 to 1187 mg of flavonoids, while the red onions may contain from 415 to 1917 mg per kilo. Red onions also contain high amounts of anthocyanin which is used to prevent many diseases.
Quercetin is also a nutrient that is contained in the onions and it has great antimicrobial properties and can lower the blood pressure. The compounds that contain sulfur in the onions can have great anti-cancer properties. Anthocyanin also gives the onions its red color. Thiosulfate is a sulfur-containing compound which can stop the growth of harmful microorganisms in the body and prevent blood clots.
Onions have many health benefits and these are just some of them:
- Consuming onions daily can reduce inflammation responses in the body and stop chronic diseases such as heart disease.
- They can regulate the blood glucose spikes after the meals and can also reduce fasting blood glucose for people with type 1 and 2 diabetes.
- Onions can reduce blood pressure, lower risk of cardiovascular diseases, and help with heart health.
- The skin of the onion can be made into a tea and by consuming it you will be able to lose weight and prevent obesity.
- Onions have great antimicrobial properties which can fight against germs and bacteria like the Methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA).
- Onions can increase the circulation of blood and avoid blood clotting.
- Onions can balance blood cholesterol levels.
- Onions can improve digestion and prevent Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea which causes colon inflammation.
- Onions’ high amounts of flavonoids and antioxidants help boost the health of the bone and its density. It can also lower the risk of fracture, brittle bones, and osteoporosis.
- Red onions can help stop problems with the prostate and distinguish the risk of prostate cancer.
- Eating raw onions can help boost the immune system which can stop infections. It can also increase the production of white blood cells which is a crucial element for boosting the immune system.
- The antioxidants that the onion contains can lower the risk of stomach, colorectal, esophageal, and prostate cancer.
- Onions can eliminate intestinal parasites such as threadworms and tapeworms.
- The juice of the onion can help with hair growth and stop scalp infections which can lead to hair loss.
Onions should be stored in a dry, cool, and well-ventilated place in a bag or loosely covered paper. Properly stored onions can be kept in the fridge for 2-3 months.
The average daily dose of consumption of onions is 50 g of fresh onion, 20 g of dried onion, or 50 g of fresh onion juice.
The side-effects you can get from eating onions can be bad breath if you consume high amounts, stomach pain odorous gas, and contact dermatitis if the juice of the onion irritates the skin.
People also used onions as folk natural remedies in different ways for centuries, and some of those ways are:
- When cutting onions it can make you cry which is helpful in the cases of debris or other irritant has caught in the eye.
- To treat vomiting, add onion juice into peppermint tea.
- To soothe the itching of mosquito bites, place a flesh slice of onion on it.
- In order to detoxify the body and treat flu and colds, put onion slices in the socks when sleeping.
- In order to soothe the pain of growing wisdom teeth, chew onion with the wisdom tooth.
- Place an onion core in the ear and leave it overnight in order to eliminate additional earwax and soothe earache.
- The syrup of the onion can treat common colds including all of their symptoms
- Put an onion flesh on warts and tie it with a bandage. Leave the onion overnight in order to eliminate those skin growths.