They Bring Tears to Your Eyes

Written by admin on August 4th, 2009

Onions, of course… now coming into season in Northeast Ohio. Onions, like their cousin, garlic, are members of the Allium family. Both members contain strong sulfur compounds that provide the flavor and scent components and bring a basket full of health benefits.

Onions come in all sizes, colors and flavor profiles from pungent to sweet. Most onions grown in Lake County lean toward the pungent side as the sweeter varieties are lovers of warmer weather. But that is actually good news for your health. Pungent onions have vastly superior health benefits to their sweeter brethren.

Yes, onions have respectable amounts of chromium and vitamin C but it’s those sulphur compounds that really make onions a health bonanza. Studies have shown onions to have significant positive impact on the cardiovascular system by lowering the risk of heart disease.

Onions are also very effective combating various forms of cancer including oral, breast, ovarian, esophageal and colon! The clinical results vary from 25%-88% reduced risk depending on the specific form, but the take away here is onions are strong protection from these diseases.

Getting back to that chromium, studies now indicate that several of the compounds found in onions can improve blood sugar levels, both by preserving insulin levels and by increasing cell sugar receptivity.

Onions are also documented to be anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial. And one last thing…

One of the health benefits that seems to surprise people the most is onions’ ability to slow the bone loss of osteoporosis! As opposed to foods like milk that provide calcium, onions attack the problem by inhibiting osteoclasts, cells that destroy bone. Wow!

So now that you know how good onions are for you, how do you eat them? Pungent, raw onions are not for everyone but those of you who love them know who you are. They can be added to a salad or top that chili dog at a Tribe game. But onions are even more versatile slow cooked or sautéed, added to stews, casseroles and soups. Recipes from all cultures use onions, which have been cultivated for over 5000 years. The cooking process tends to lower the extreme flavor edges which allow many more people to enjoy these gems.

Chilling onions before cutting them can reduce the tearful effects, so don’t use the common advice to cut them under running water as this will wash away those wonderful sulphur compounds.

As with most all fruits and vegetable, the healthy nutrients found in onions deteriorate rapidly with time. Finding fresh, locally grown onions at your local farmers’ market will let you get the greatest benefits from this powerhouse family.

Ken

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