Onions: properties and health benefits

Poor but precious, both to give an edge to your recipes and to help you take care of your health. The onion is a vegetable that you certainly use very often when cooking: you know its goodness, but you know how many beneficial nutrients does it contain? It protects the heart, promotes the well-being of the intestine, strengthens the immune system: discover all the positive effects of the onion.

The nutritional properties of onions

Onions are mostly made up of water (92% of the total weight), fibre e mineral saltsin particular potassium (140 mg per 100 g), of phosphorus (35mg per 100g) e soccer (25 mg per 100 g), to which are added a modest quantity of carbohydrates e protein e very little fatfor a very minimal contribution of calorie: less than 30 per 100 grams.

Their nutritional profile also stands out for two other substances that contribute to making onions very beneficial for health:allicinaa sulfur compound which they also have in common with other vegetables, such as garlic and leekshey polyphenolswith an antioxidant action. Let’s find out all their beneficial effects.

Onions: the health benefits

From the heart to the immune system, up to the intestines, the onion is good for you all round.

The abundance of water, combined with the richness of potassium, makes this vegetable diuretic and purifyingvery useful to counteract water retention and swelling.

Fibers are very useful for protect the well-being and intestinal regularity. The onion contains one in particular, theinulinwhich performs aprebiotic action: that is, it has the ability to nourish the community of bacteria that populate our intestines, the so-called microbiota, with beneficial effects for the whole organism. From the microbiota healthin fact, many important functions depend on theefficiency of the immune system all’absorption of some nutrientssuch as group B vitamins. It is no coincidence that the intestine is defined as a “second brain” and onions are truly a valid ally to keep it in shape.

This vegetable is also very beneficial for the health of the cardiovascular system: the merit is of fibre and gods polyphenolsespecially of the quercetinwhich according to many studies can contribute to keep cholesterol and triglycerides low in the blood.

then there is theallicinaa sulfur compound to which a potential antitumor role, cardiovascular prevention and protection against neurodegenerative diseasesas pointed out by ARTOI, the Foundation for the Research of Integrated Oncological Therapies, and IEO, the European Institute of Oncology.

In detail this substance:

  • thanks to her antimicrobial actionwould act as a natural antibiotic againstHelicobacter Pyloria bacterium that can colonize the gastric mucosacausing ulcers and gastritis, and representing an important risk factor for stomach cancer
  • would contribute to keep cholesterol levels and blood pressure under controlplaying an important role in protecting heart health.

In the face of all these benefits, eating onions has no particulars contraindications. There is only one small precaution to take: those suffering from gastroesophageal reflux should not abuse it because this vegetable, like garlic, can aggravate the symptoms of this disorder and cause heartburn.

Microbe-catching onion? Just a hoax

Unfortunately it is only one legend: onion it has no power to absorb microbes and to protect us from colds and flu. According to a widespread belief this vegetable, placed in the room near the bed, would have the ability to attract viruses and bacteria, trap them and make them harmless. This belief dates back to the early 1900s, when a doctor met a peasant family who claimed to have escaped the flu by shielding themselves from the infection with sliced ​​onions distributed around the house. Naturally – warns the Istituto Superiore di Sanità – it is a matter of a false myth that has no scientific basisIn fact, there are no foods capable of freeing us from viruses and bacteria by attracting them like a magnet and imprisoning them. The onion, as we have seen, has many nutritional benefits and, with its antioxidant action and richness in fibre, it can also help strengthen our immune system. But to enjoy its virtues we must eat it, not hang it in the room or place it on the bedside table!

The many varieties of onions

Bianca, golden (or coppery), rosa, rossa: there are many varieties of onions and each one is distinguished not only by the color but also by a characteristic taste which makes it perfect for specific preparations and recipes. There is the Tropea red onionwhich with its sweet and aromatic taste is excellent to eat both raw and cooked. There are the borettane onionsfrom the name of the city of Boretto, in the province of Reggio Emilia, of which they are native, which with their yellow-gold color and intense taste are perfect to combine with very tasty meats or to preserve sweet and sour.

Among the countless other local varieties, the Tuscan one also stands out Certaldo onionideal for preparing jams to be served with cheeses, and the Chioggia white onionwhich with its sweetness goes perfectly with ingredients with a strong taste such as liver not sardines. How to forget the Cannara onionthe star variety of a poor local dish such as the Umbrian onion, a traditional peasant soup? And again, the Milan copper onion and the red onion from Acquaviva delle Fontiin Puglia, excellent caramelized? We have listed a few for you, but every corner of Italy has its onion, which is often the secret to the goodness of a typical specialty of the area. Let’s find out, then, how to savor this delicious bulb.

Onion recipes

In oil, sweet and sour, gratinata baked, in batter, filledin salad or in the form of jamthe onion at the table always adds an extra touch, both when it is used to flavor, as in fried, and when it is the protagonist of the dish. The traditional recipes with the onion are many, from onion soup at the Pissaladièrea stuffed focaccia in which this vegetable is combined with anchovies, dal Friggione Bolognesea sauce of white onions and peeled tomatoes, alla Piedmontese rustidaa second course based on meat and pork offal which is typically eaten with polenta, up to the panzanellawhich would not be the same without the raw onion.

eat the raw onionsby the way, is the best way to make the most of their nutritional benefits: while the fibers, in fact, are not damaged by heat, some substances, such as polyphenols and allicin, they degrade with cooking. Tradition aside, the onion really lends itself to the most varied uses in the kitchen: in soupsin velvetyin omelettesin savory piesin the sauces for the pasta, in plates of meat or on pizzagives taste, health and personality to any preparation.

Discover the red onion recipes and with the golden onion in the “Ingredients” section of Buonissimo.

Onion: the trick to not cry when you slice it

The onion has many virtues, but also a small side effect: when you slice it it makes you cry. And he does it to defend himself, in nature from animals and parasites, in the kitchen from the blade of the knife. The person responsible for tears is an enzyme, theline upwhich is found in the bulb and which, when we cut onions, works by transforming some sulfur compounds into volatile substances that reach the eyes and irritate them. But fear not: there are many precautions that you can adopt to enjoy the goodness and beneficial effects of onions without shedding a single tear. It is enough for you wet the knife often when you cut them rinse them under water current or peel them, divide them into two parts e soak them for 15 minutes before slicing them: the substance that makes your eyes water is, in fact, water soluble, so it will dissolve in contact with water!

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