MAY-2020

FOOD SECURITY

Agricultural News

The ancient origin of onions spans the western and eastern parts of Asia. There are numerous species of onions found over the world, which basically means they were cultivated across the world probably at the same time. Records suggest that onions started to be used in China way back in 5000Bc.

Mariri Mamabolo
mamabolomg@thevillagemag.co.za

16 MAY 2020

Know your onions, their origins as well as health benefits.

Yellow onions – They have ivory white flesh that is surrounded by heavy brown skin. They have a strong and sulphur-like aroma.

Sweet onions – They have a lighter, less-opaque skin that surrounds a larger and slightly fatter body of the vegetable.

 White onions – They have a papery white skin, and they are milder and sweeter than their yellow counterparts.

Red onions – They are mild and sweet enough to be eaten raw. The exterior skin and flesh are a deep magenta.

Shallots – They are smaller and brown-skinned and have purple flesh.

Green onions – They are the immature onions that haven’t yet formed a bulb.

Leeks – They are shaped like overgrown scallions (the long-necked onion with a small bulb) and are usually used in sauces and soups.

It is common knowledge that chopping onions causes watery eyes. However, onions may also provide potential health benefits. These may include reducing the risk of several types of cancer, improving mood and maintaining skin and hair health.

White, Red and Yellow Onions

HEALTH BENEFITS OF ONIONS

Cancer Prevention

Onions activate pathways that encourage cancer cells to undergo cell death. They promote an unfavourable environment for cancer cells and they disrupt communication between cancer cells which inhibits growth.

Makes the skin glow

Onions are packed with vitamins A, C, and E – all of which contribute to skin health. They protect the skin from premature aging that is caused by free radicals. And since the vegetable is a powerful antiseptic, it can also shield the skin from bacteria that cause issues. And by the way, research says that vitamin C is important for imparting a glow to the skin.

Promotes Hair Growth 

The number one reason onion juice is good for hair growth is it contains sulphur, which is also found in amino acids. And keratin (an important protein) is also sulphur-rich and is required for strong hair. When applied to the scalp, onion juice provides this extra sulphur for stronger and thicker hair. This sulphur can also stimulate collagen production – which, in turn, aids in the production of healthy skin cells, and, hair growth

RAW OR COOKED

Whether raw or cooked – onions are super healthy. However, raw onions have higher levels of organic sulphur compounds that offer numerous benefits. One study has found that the outer layers of onion flesh have the highest concentrations of flavonoids – hence, ensure you remove as little of this part as possible while peeling the vegetable.

Boiled onions also have benefits. They serve as a good source of fibre and copper. Fibre helps keep digestive issues at bay while copper aids brain communication. Even pickled onions have most of the benefits onions provide. One point to be noted about pickled onions is – most brands contain additives and could be harmful.

Onions in a crate at a vegetable isle in a supermarket

SIDE EFFECTS

Excess amounts of any product can lead to disadvantages for your health. This means that people who consume too many onions might experience side effects instead of benefits of onions in the body.

Heartburn issue

Onions are not recommended in big quantities to pregnant women and those people who suffer from heartburn problems in their regular life. Experiencing the unpleasant ‘burning’ feeling in the chest is horrible, that is why you should treat your stomach with healthy foods and not just raw onions.

Abdominal problems

Onions are rich in fructose; it can cause different issues due to our bodies being not able to digest natural sugar the correct way. You can suffer from gas and abdominal bloating. However, this usually happens only when you eat too many onions, and the discomfort will not last forever.

Extra-low blood pressure

Small amounts of onions are good for reducing high blood pressure because this vegetable is a perfect source of potassium. However, big amounts of the vegetable can cause the opposite effect. If your blood pressure is reduced significantly, you can experience various health issues. You can suffer from nausea, feel dizzy, get blurry vision, and so on.

Bad breath

One of the main eating raw onions side effects is bad breath you can get. The strong onion smell lasts for a long time. People who love this vegetable have to control their desires and consume small amounts of onion at a time. This way you can enjoy health benefits and avoid the after smell effect.