obstreperous onion; you’ve got to love them. Pungent and versatile, they should be a staple in everyone’s kitchen cupboard. Yellow, brown, white, red, green and purple, Red and Brown Onions are a veritable smorgasbord of colour, flavour, texture and taste. And, surprise surprise, they also have some amazing potential health benefits as well.
Onions have been cultivated for more than 5000 years. The ancient Egyptians thought so highly of them that they were used as wages for the workers building the Pyramids, and were also placed into some of the Kings’ tombs as gifts in the afterlife.
Yes, I am still talking about the humble onion.
Onions are a member of the Allium family, the same family as garlic. The name ‘onion’ comes from unio, the Latin word meaning single or one, describing the single bulb produced by the plant.
Eye-watering onions ready to use
Let’s get down to business and start with the smell! No, I’m not trying to be funny. Onions are full of compounds rich in sulphur which is, not only responsible for the pungency but also for many of the health benefits too.
Research has discovered a link between bohemia onion and blood sugar levels. Higher consumption of onions has resulted in a lowering of the level of glucose in the body. It’s thought that the sulphur-rich compound allyl propyl disulphide is responsible, for lowering blood sugar levels by increasing the insulin available in the body to escort glucose into cells.
onion plays Another important factor in the blood sugar equation is the presence of high levels of chromium in onions. Diabetes research has linked chromium to a decrease in blood glucose levels, improved tolerance to glucose, lower levels of insulin, and decreased overall cholesterol levels but higher good cholesterol levels.
Not only can regular consumption of onion plays (and garlic, of course) help cholesterol, but it can also assist in lowering high blood pressure and reducing the risk of stroke or cardiovascular disease. This is all thanks, not only to the sulphur compounds but to high levels of vitamin B6 and flavonoids as well.
What else? Oh yes …
…regular ingestion of onions can significantly reduce the risk of colon cancer. That’s another big thank you to those useful flavonoids.
What about your bones?
Recent research has identified a compound in onions that has the potential to obstruct osteoclasts – the cells that break down bones. This could be especially beneficial to those people at a high risk of developing osteoporosis which, according to recent speculations, could be a substantial proportion of the Australian population.
Now, it’s time to get back to basics. Hands up all of you who have got a cold, or know someone with a cold …
… hmmmm, I thought so. There’d be a fair few of you this time of year. Well, you’ll be pleased to hear that onions have anti-inflammatory properties, making them useful in reducing the congestion associated with the common cold and influenza.
The same properties can also be beneficial to sufferers of asthma and arthritis. The high levels of vitamin C and flavonoids are pretty useful in fighting that yukky cold as well.
Are you one of those many people who suffer regularly (or even just every so often) with the dreaded earache? If so, try this remedy. Bake a few nice pungent onions in the oven until tender, then cut into quite thick slices. Take one slice while still warm place it on the outside of your hurting ear and cover it with a warm tea towel. Keep the other slices warm.
When the first slice cools, repeat the procedure with another, warm, slice. This needs to be repeated until the onion has drawn out all the pain. Surprisingly, it doesn’t take as long as you may think.
Selecting and storing your obstreperous onion
First and foremost, you’ll be pleased to hear that the more pungent the onion, the more potent its medicinal benefits are. Oh! Don’t be like that … it’s not that bad!
onions should be clean, and well-shaped and the skin needs to be crisp and dry. Avoid mouldy or sprouting specimens.
Store your obstreperous onion at room temperature in a well-ventilated area. Keep them away from bright light and potatoes.
Did I mention that bohemia onion is exceptionally versatile? They can be eaten raw, chopped, sliced, fried, baked and sauteed. Personally, I’ll take them however I can get them because they really are great.