It is very hard to imagine life without the onion; this bulbous vegetable has been incorporated into almost every cuisine known to man. The pungent taste and smell of it has filled every household at one point or another. However taste is not the only reason why cultures all over the world have added the delicious vegetable to their diets. People from all periods have used it for medicinal purposes or in some cases for monetary usage.
The origin of the onion has been a controversial subject that has divided many researchers. They are split between Central Asia and the Middle East. However, recent evidence has shown that the vegetable might have been growing wild all over the world and has no real place of origin. The one thing that they do agree on is the fact that this rotund plant has been in cultivation for centuries and has even described in Sumerian text.
The onion has been extremely popular over the years due to its health benefits and while some have been greatly exaggerated, others have been scientifically proven. This sensational vegetable is related to the Allium family which has many pungent relatives due to their high content of sulphurous compounds. A recent study of the plant shows that its sulfur content reduces levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, and may produce an anti-clotting property.
Like most vegetables, the onion carries a moderate amount of antioxidants; with the most prevailing one being quercetin. This flavonoid also has anti-inflammatory traits that help prevent cellular damage caused by free radicals. New research has shown that quercetin also has antibacterial properties; the experiments have only been done on gum diseases.
There is a trace mineral called chromium within the onion that is not well known but necessary for optimal health. While the amount of mineral needed daily is rather minuscule, over a third of the U.S. population suffers from a mild form of chromium deficiency which can lead to similar symptoms of type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis. The daily requirement is:
- Males 19-50, 35 micrograms (mcg) per day; over 50, 30 mcg per day
- Females 19-50, 25 mcg per day; over 50, 20 mcg per day
The delicious vegetable is a rich source of this mineral and consuming the proper amounts can help raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels, which in turn prevents cardiovascular disease. Usually in a single serving of onions there is enough chromium for the daily requirement.
Due to its low calorie, low glycemic index (GI), and antioxidant properties that can help alleviate diabetic symptoms, we at DiabeTV strongly recommend adding this amazing vegetable to any meal. As always, please contact your nutritionist or physician when drastically changing your diet.