Throughout history, onions have been revered as a natural cure all. They belong to the same family as garlic. While today’s’s scientists agree that onions may have the power to prevent and treat certain illnesses, they have yet to discover the exact substances that have these remarkable healing powers; as a result, onions continue to be the subject of much research.
Experiments show that eating raw onions may help to reduce cholesterol levels because they increase levels of high density lipoproteins, special molecules that help to carry cholesterol away from body tissues and artery walls.
It has been claimed that onions, whether cooked or raw, protect against the harmful effects of fatty foods on the blood. They appear to contain a substance that helps to prevent the blood from clotting and may increase the rate at which clots are broken down.
While these claims have not yet been proven, there is some evidence to suggest that this effect may help to prevent circulatory disease such as coronary heart disease, thrombosis and a wide range of conditions associated with strokes and poor circulation. For this reason it may be worth including more onions in your diet: you could try combining mild raw onions with hamburgers, or, instead of an onion sauce, serve roast onions with lamb.
Researchers are also investigating the power of onions to protect against cancer, as it is believed that the sulphur compounds in onions may help to prevent the growth of cancer cells.
Cooked onions have also been used to clear catarrh in traditional medicine. Eat the onions either roasted or boiled in dishes such as soups and stews.
Onions can lead to migraine in some people, however, and the sugars they contain can cause flatulence. Eating raw onions can also lead to bad breath.
The herbal compounds which give onions their flavour and strong smell led to the belief that the juices could prevent infection. In the Middle Ages, onions were used as protection against the plague. Some modern herbals state that applications of onion will remove warts and prevent acne, but there is no scientific backup for these claims.
Benefits of onions
- May help lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of coronary heart disease
- Help to prevent blood clotting
- May help to reduce the risk of cancer
- Used as a decongestant in traditional medicine
- Can trigger migraine in susceptible individuals
- Cause bad breath when eaten raw