Onions are part of the allium family of vegetables and herbs, which also includes chives, garlic, scallions, and leeks. Onions can vary in size, shape, color, and flavor. The most common types are red, yellow, and white onions. Flavors can be sweet and juicy to sharp, spicy, and pungent, often depending on the season in which they are grown and consumed.
Dry onions are fully matured, with juicy flesh and dry, papery skin and have a pungent flavour that becomes wonderfully sweet upon lengthy cooking. Red onions are an attractive, milder alternative to the yellow onion with their shiny purple skin and red-tinged flesh. Shallots are a subspecies of onion; they are small and boast a delicate flavour integral to French cooking. Spring onions are immature onions pulled before the bulb is fully formed, and can be recognised by their long green leaves.
The possible health benefits of consuming onions include lowering the risk of several types of cancer, improving mood, and maintaining the health of skin and hair. Onions decreases the risk of overall mortality, diabetes, and heart disease.
Vitamin C, present in onions, is also a strong antioxidant that can reduce the presence and impact of free radicals in the body. Onions are rich in vitamin C which reduces the risk of various cancer.
- Colon cancer
Onions contain high fiber content which reduces the risk of colorectal cancer.
- Prostate cancer
Onions reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
- Esophageal and stomach cancer
Frequent intake of onion has been shown to reduce the risk of esophageal and stomach cancer.
- Sleep and mood
Folate, found in onions, might help reduce depression. Homocysteine prevents blood and other nutrients from reaching the brain, and folate prevents this chemical from building up. Excess homocysteine also interferes with the production of the feel-good hormones serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which regulate not only mood, but also sleep and appetite.
- Skin and hair
Onions are high in vitamin C, which is needed for the building and maintenance of collagen, which provides structure to skin and hair.
- Boost Immunity
The phytochemicals present in significant amounts in onions act as stimulants for vitamin C within the body. Vitamin C boosts your immune system by fighting against toxins and various foreign bodies that can lead to diseases and illness.
- Treat Heart Ailments
Onions act as anticoagulants, also known as blood thinners, which prevent the red blood cells from forming clump. 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.
- Manage Diabetes
Onions contain chromium, which is a relatively unusual mineral to be found naturally in food. Thus, maintaining diabetes.
- Treat Anemia
Even anemic conditions can be improved by eating onions along with jaggery and water because this adds to the mineral content of the body, especially iron, which is an essential part of producing new red blood cells. Therefore, anemia, also known as iron deficiency, can be prevented by including onion in your diet.
- Relieve Stomach Aches
Onions have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that can relieve an upset stomach and related gastric syndromes. This is due to the saponins that are found in them. These saponins have anti-spasmodic capabilities, which ensure that stomach disturbances do not continue and that your bowels are clear and smoothly functioning.
- Relieve Asthma
Onions contain sulfur which reduces the risk of asthma.
- Loaded With Antioxidants
Onions contains lots of antioxidants. It contain over 25 different varieties of flavonoid antioxidants.
Onions protect from many diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
The best time to consume onion is in morning hours before tiffin on empty stomach. Onions goes well with all types of vegetables, salads. But milk and onion should not be taken together. Similarly onion and tofu should not be taken together.
Ways to use onion-
- ● You can chop them, freeze in one layer on a cookie sheet and then store in freezer bags.
- ● Carmelized onions are amazing on anything and keep well in the refrigerator.
- ● Combine chopped onions, tomatoes, avocado, and jalapeno for an all-in-one guacamole salsa dip.
- ● To perk up plain rice, top with green onions (scallions) and sesame seeds.
- ● Healthy Sauteed chopped onions can enhance the flavor or almost any vegetable dish.
- ● Enjoy a classic Italian salad—sliced onions, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese drizzled with olive oil.
How to buy and store onion-
- ● Choose onions that are clean, well shaped, have no opening at the neck, and feature crisp, dry outer skins.
- ● As conventionally grown onions are often irradiated to prevent them from sprouting, purchase organically grown varieties whenever possible to avoid onions that have undergone this process.
- ● Onions should be stored in a well-ventilated space at room temperature, away from heat and bright light.
- ● With the exception of green onions, do not refrigerate onions.
- ● Store cut raw onions by placing in a sealed container.
Uses of onion-
Protect Your Plants From Insects
Mix together four onions, two cloves of garlic, two tablespoons of cayenne pepper, and one quart of water. Set this mixture aside and dilute two tablespoons of soap flakes in two gallons of water. Pour your onion mixture into the soapy water, and put it in a spray bottle. You can use this environmentally friendly spray to keep insects off of your plants.
Onions can also be very instrumental in getting rid of bad pimples! Mix crushed onions slices with water and apply to acne. The components of the onion are harsh on zits and effectively remove them. Mix 1 tablespoon of onion juice or extract with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and apply it to your face. Leave it on for 20 minutes and then wash it off. Apart from topical application, the regular consumption of onion can also give you miraculous results in the case of acne.
Use as a natural pesticide
Whip up an effective insect and animal repellent for the flowers and vegetables in your garden. In a blender, puree 4 onions, 2 cloves garlic, 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper, and 1 quart water (1 liter). Set the mixture aside. Now dilute 2 tablespoons soap flakes in 2 gallons (7.5 liters) water. Pour in the contents of your blender, shake or stir well, and you have a potent, environment-friendly solution to spray on your plants.
- Treat Urinary Disorders
For those suffering from a burning sensation during
urination, onions can provide considerable relief. People suffering from this
condition should drink boiled water with 6 to 7 grams of onions.
It is a perfect home remedy for relieving various metabolic disorders and diseases. Consuming onion can even help in the prevention of stomach and breast cancer.
Onion juice mixed with honey or olive oil is said to be the best treatment for treating symptoms or signs of acne.It is also anti-inflammatory in nature, so the active compounds can reduce the redness and swelling that is commonly associated with skin conditions like acne. Onions also help reduce the associated pain and inflammation of conditions like gout and arthritis.
This onion face mask does the trick
– all you need are 2 tablespoons of gram flour, 1 1/2 tablespoons of onion
juice (freshly extracted), 1/2 teaspoon of milk, and a pinch of nutmeg.
Mix all the ingredients till you get a thick paste. You can add extra milk if the pack becomes too thick. And in case the smell of onions is too much to take, you can add a few drops of lavender essential oil to the pack. Cleanse your face, and apply the mask evenly to your face and neck. After the mask dries (which might take about 20 minutes), remove it by gently massaging it off the skin with milk.
This mask not only adds glow to your skin but also exfoliates it.
Consuming an equal mixture of onion juice and honey can relieve sore throats and coughing symptoms.
Boost Sexual Drive
Onions are said to increase the urge for a healthy sex life. One tablespoon of onion juice along with one spoonful of ginger juice, taken three times a day, can boost libido and sex drive.
A few drops of onion juice may prove immensely beneficial to individuals suffering from an acute earache. The ringing sound in the ear may be cured by applying onion juice through a piece of cotton wool.
Onions are often used to prevent tooth decay and oral infections. Chewing raw onions for 2 to 3 minutes can potentially kill all the germs present in the oral area and surrounding areas like the throat and lips.
Fight The Effects Of Aging
Massaging your skin with fresh onion juice helps increase blood circulation and improves the overall appearance of your skin by imparting a more youthful and radiant appearance to it.
Remove Dark Spots And Treat Skin
Onion juice is excellent for getting rid of dark spots and pigmentation. You can prepare an onion face mask by mixing equal quantities of onion juice and fresh yogurt. You can also add a few drops of any essential oil for a pleasant aroma. Massage your face with this mixture, using gentle circular movements for 10 to 15 minutes. This should be done daily for best results.
Treat Stings And Bites
Onions can be used to soothe stings and bug bites. All you need to do is place an onion slice on your sting or bite. The anti-inflammatory properties of onion help in reducing the burn, itchiness, and swelling caused by the bites of insects and bugs.
Help Get Rid Of Moles
You can use onion juice to get rid of moles too. The acidity of the onion juice and the chemicals in it can heal moles as well. All you have to do is dab some fresh onion juice on your mole. Allow it to absorb the juice. In most cases, the treatment was found to remove the mole in a month.
But since each mole is different, do talk to your doctor if you don’t see the right results.
Season in which onion is available
Onion is available all year-round.
How to make Onion Pakoda-
3 medium size Onions, finely sliced
1/2 cup Gram Flour (Besan Flour)
1/4 cup Rice Flour
1 teaspoon grated Ginger
5-7 Curry Leaves, chopped, optional
1/2 teaspoon Red Chilli Powder
A pinch of Baking Soda (soda-bicarbonate)
2 tablespoons finely chopped Coriander Leaves
Oil, for deep frying
Salt to taste
Take sliced onion in a large bowl.
Add gram flour, rice flour, ginger, curry leaves, red chilli powder, baking soda, coriander leaves and salt.
Mix well using spoon and keep aside for 10 minutes.
Add water little by little (approx. 1/4 cup) and mix all the ingredients such that sliced onion is coated well with flour batter. Do not add more water unless required – if batter becomes too watery or thin then pakoras will not turn crispy.
Heat oil in a deep pan over medium flame. Check whether oil is sufficiently hot or not by dropping a pinch of mixture in hot oil – if it comes upward immediately, then oil is sufficiently hot for deep frying. Take small portion of mixture in the hand and gently drop 3-4 small fritters into the oil and deep-fry until they turn golden brown in color – keep stirring occasionally in between so that they cook evenly and keep heat/flame to medium.
Take them out using slotted spoon and drain excess oil. Place them on paper towel in a plate to absorb excess oil. Repeat the process for remaining batter and deep-fry in batches. Do not over crowd the oil with onion fritters, this will help them cook evenly.
Serving Ideas: Serve them hot as delectable snack with chutney or with a cup of tea or coffee in the evening.
How to make Ulli Theeyal (Kerala Style Onion Curry)-
To roast and grind into a paste
1/2 cup Fresh coconut
1 tbsp Coriander seeds
1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
1 tsp Black peppercorns
3-4 Dry red chillies
1/4 tsp Fenugreek seeds
For the curry
2 tbsp Coconut oil
1 tsp Mustard seeds
1 cup Pearl onion Peeled and cut into halves
6-8 cloves Garlic
1 tsp Chilli powder
1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
Salt To taste
Tamarind Seedless lemon sized ball soaked in water
For the tempering
1 tbsp Coconut oil
1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
10-15 Curry leaves
5-6 Dry red chillies
Dry Roast Coconut until browned.
Dry roast the remaining roasting ingredients until browned.
Add the roasted ingredients in a blender along with some water and grind to make a paste.
Heat coconut oil in a pan.
Once the oil is hot, add mustard seeds and let them crackle for a few seconds.
Add onion and garlic and fry for 4-5 minutes.
Now add the ground masala, chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt to taste along with a cup of water.
Bring this to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Squeeze the tamarind and add the water in the curry and cook for another minute.
Heat coconut oil for tempering in a pan.
Once the oil is hot, add mustard seeds, curry leaves and dry red chilies and let them crackle for a few seconds.
Pour the tempering over the curry.
Serve hot with steamed rice or coconut rice.
The risks of onion consumption are minimal. The risks of eating onions are
If you have an allergy to onions, you might experience a red, itchy rash when an onion comes into contact with your skin as well as reddened, itchy eyes. After eating onions you experience a sudden generalized reddening of the skin, oral swelling and tingling, difficulty breathing, or a drop in blood pressure, it could be signs of an anaphylactic reaction, and you should seek emergency medical treatment immediately.
Onions naturally contain fructose, it can produce gas to some people. Gas production can manifest as abdominal bloat and discomfort, increased flatulence and bad breath. These symptoms can be worse if you have a food intolerance to onions.Food intolerance can also lead to nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Heartburn is a condition where stomach acids flow upward into the esophagus and create a painful burning sensation in the chest. So, people are advised not to consume onions who experience such problems..
Onions as a whole are fairly benign in terms of interacting with other drugs. If you eat a lot of green onions or rapidly increase your consumption, its vitamin K content might interfere with certain blood-thinner drugs such as Coumadin. If you are currently taking blood-thinners, consult with your healthcare provider before undertaking any dietary changes.
Too Much Potassium Is Bad For Our Health
Onions are an excellent source of potassium which is a vasodilator that relaxes our blood vessels and thus improves blood circulation in our body. By doing so, it regulates blood pressure and thus reduces the risk of high blood pressure or hypertension. Too many onions could lower your blood pressure to a dangerously low level and this may give rise to hypotension which is characterized by the symptoms like fatigue, lightheadedness, dizziness, nausea, depression, blurry vision etc.
In addition to this, if you are already taking medication for controlling high blood pressure or hypertension then also you should eat onions in moderation as combined effect of both the medicines and the onions can decrease your blood pressure to a dangerously low level.
May Cause Bad Breath And Strong After Smell
Onions may cause bad breath. So, it is advisable to not to consume too many onions.
May Worsen Cardiovascular Problems
Eating too many onions is not so good for our cardiovascular health.This is because the high level of potassium in our body can lower the blood pressure level to an extremely low level and this may give rise to hypotension.
In addition to this, high level of potassium in our body can give rise to cardiovascular complications like irregular heartbeat, heart stroke etc. This is another reason for not eating onions in excessive quantity.
Lowers Blood Sugar To Dangerously Low Level
Eating too many onions could lower the blood sugar level to a dangerously low level giving rise to hypoglycemia, characterized by the symptoms like blurry vision, rapid heartbeat, irregular heartbeat, headache, dizziness, trouble thinking etc.
Additionally, if you are already taking medication for regulating your blood sugar level then consuming onions in excessive quantity could worsen the situation and lowers your blood sugar to a dangerously low level.
Fun Facts about Onion-
- ● Ancient Onions
Onions have been a part of the human diet for more than 7,000 years. Archeologists have discovered traces of onions dating back to 5000 B.C., found alongside stones from figs and dates in settlements from the Bronze Age.
- ● Holy Onions
Ancient Egyptians worshipped onions, believing their spherical shape and concentric circles within symbolized eternity. In fact, onions were often placed in the burial tombs of pharaohs, as they were believed to bring about prosperity in the afterlife.
- ● Onions can weaken a dog’s red blood cells, leading to anemia that, in severe cases, could result in death. Symptoms of anemia in your dog include weakness, vomiting, loss of appetite, dullness and breathlessness, so watch out for these if your pet somehow manages to eat a bag of onions when you’re not looking.
- ● Onions as Currency?
In the Middle Ages, onions were an acceptable form of currency, and was used to pay for rent, goods and services — and even as gifts!
- ● Osteoporosis Fighter
Onions can be a strong weapon in a woman’s battle against osteoporosis as she goes through menopause. That’s because onions destroy osteoclasts, bone cells which resorb bone tissue and weaken bones.
- ● Stop Crying
Slicing onions makes most of us cry, but why? The reason is that cutting into it releases sulfuric acid, which reacts with the moisture in our eyes to create a tearful reaction. One way to avoid this unfortunate byproduct of slicing onions is to cut them under running water, or while submerged in a basin of water.
- ● Onions Fight Disease
Onions are rich in quercetin, a powerful flavonoid antioxidant that has been shown to have positive effects in people battling lung cancer. Onions can also be beneficial in treatment of cataracts and even cardiovascular disease.
- ● The World’s Largest Onion
According to The Guinness Book of World Records, the biggest onion ever was grown by British farmer Peter Glazebrook, who harvested a monster-sized onion in 2011 that weighed just under 18 pounds.
- ● First organized cultivation of onions started in Asia some 5,500 years ago. They quickly spread around the world, and became popular for their medicinal value and ease of storing in the winter.
- ● Onions are very healthy to eat. They are filled with complex sugars that keep our metabolism healthy, vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, beta carotene, folate (one of the B vitamins), and they have no fat.
- ● Onions are some of the oldest vegetables that were used by the first modern civilizations. They were grown in ancient Egypt, where their spherical internal structure was believed to be a symbol of eternal life (because of that they were important part of burial ceremonies).
- ● One average sized onion has 30 calories.
- ● Onions are currently 6th most popular vegetable crop in the world, judging only by its production.
- ● Yellow onion is the most popular type of onion. It takes staggering 75% of the world’s onion production.
Onions come in many shapes and colors. Most popular ones are yellow onions, white onions, brown onions, red onions and pickling onions.
- ● Consumption of onions in the United States rose 50% in the last 20 years. Currently, average American eats 8.5 kg of fresh onions each year.
You can get rid of onion breath by eating fresh parsley.
- ● After the fall of ancient empires of Egypt, Greece and Rome, home of European onion production remained in Italy. From there this great vegetable spread across entire Europe, and after Age of Sail, across entire world.
- ● Over 9,000,000 acres of fertile land is currently used for production of onion, and only 8% of global production is intended for trade. In 2012, worldwide production of onions reached 74 million tons, with China, India, United States and Egypt as largest producers.