8 Surprising Benefits Of Onions For Skin, Hair And Health | Fitness Factory
Onions are cultivated and consumed across the world. They are usually served cooked. They can also be eaten raw and are used in pickles and chutneys. The onion has a strong taste and a sharp, pungent flavor. Though it is a temperate crop, it can be grown under a wide range of climatic conditions (temperate, tropical, and subtropical)
Though all vegetables are important for health, certain kinds offer unique benefits.
Onions are members of the Allium genus of flowering plants that also includes garlic, shallots, leeks and chives.
These vegetables contain various vitamins, minerals and potent plant compounds that have been shown to promote health in many ways.
In fact, the medicinal properties of onions have been recognized since ancient times, when they were used to treat ailments like headaches, heart disease and mouth sores
Onions are nutrient-dense, meaning they’re low in calories but high in vitamins and minerals.
One medium onion has just 44 calories but delivers a considerable dose of vitamins, minerals and fiber (2).
This vegetable is particularly high in vitamin C, a nutrient involved in regulating immune health, collagen production, tissue repair and iron absorption.
Vitamin C also acts as a powerful antioxidant in your body, protecting your cells against damage caused by unstable molecules called free radicals (3).
Onions are also rich in B vitamins, including folate (B9) and pyridoxine (B6) — which play key roles in metabolism, red blood cell production and nerve function (4).
Lastly, they’re a good source of potassium, a mineral in which many people are lacking.
In fact, the average potassium intake of Americans is just over half the recommended daily value (DV) of 4,700 mg (5).
Normal cellular function, fluid balance, nerve transmission, kidney function and muscle contraction all require potassium
Onions contain antioxidants and compounds that fight inflammation, decrease triglycerides and reduce cholesterol levels — all of which may lower heart disease risk.
Their potent anti-inflammatory properties may also help reduce high blood pressure and protect against blood clots.
Quercetin is a flavonoid antioxidant that’s highly concentrated in onions. Since it’s a potent anti-inflammatory, it may help decrease heart disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure.
A study in 70 overweight people with high blood pressure found that a dose of 162 mg per day of quercetin-rich onion extract significantly reduced systolic blood pressure by 3–6 mmHg compared to a placebo (7).
Onions have also been shown to decrease cholesterol levels.
A study in 54 women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) found that consuming large amounts of raw red onions (40–50 grams/day if overweight and 50–60 grams/day if obese) for eight weeks reduced total and “bad” LDL cholesterol compared to a control group (8).
Additionally, evidence from animal studies supports that onion consumption may reduce risk factors for heart disease, including inflammation, high triglyceride levels and blood clot formation
Eating onions may help control blood sugar, which is especially significant for people with diabetes or prediabetes.
A study in 42 people with type 2 diabetes demonstrated that eating 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of fresh red onion reduced fasting blood sugar levels by about 40 mg/dl after four hours (23).
Additionally, multiple animal studies have shown that onion consumption may benefit blood sugar control.
A study showed that diabetic rats fed food containing 5% onion extract for 28 days experienced decreased fasting blood sugar and had substantially lower body fat than the control group (24).
Specific compounds found in onions, such as quercetin and sulfur compounds, possess antidiabetic effects.
For example, quercetin has been shown to interact with cells in the small intestine, pancreas, skeletal muscle, fat tissue and liver to control whole-body blood sugar regulation
Onions are a rich source of fiber and prebiotics, which are necessary for optimal gut health.
Prebiotics are nondigestible types of fiber that are broken down by beneficial gut bacteria.
Gut bacteria feed on prebiotics and create short-chain fatty acids — including acetate, propionate and butyrate.
Research has shown that these short-chain fatty acids strengthen gut health, boost immunity, reduce inflammation and enhance digestion (35, 36).
Additionally, consuming foods rich in prebiotics helps increase probiotics, such as Lactobacillus and bifidobacteria strains, which benefit digestive health (37).
A diet rich in prebiotics may help improve the absorption of important minerals like calcium, which may improve bone health (38).
Onions are particularly rich in the prebiotics inulin and fructooligosaccharides. These help increase the number of friendly bacteria in your gut and improve immune function
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