While onion is often thought of as a food that brings tears to eyes upon cutting or something that temporarily makes breath unpleasant, a recent finding presented by the Endocrine Society revealed that it’s a health food superstar with the potential to improve cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
The details were presented at the society’s 97th annual meeting in San Diego, California, where studies pertaining to the benefits of the extract of onion bulb, Allium cepa, were explained. Experts outlined how the extract was given to a series of subjects including diabetic mice and non-diabetic mice, then compared to control groups of mice that did not receive the extract.(1)
Onion extract and its potential for people with diabetes
Researchers discovered that, when given two doses of onion extract (400 and 600 mg per day), the diabetic mice experienced a reduction in their fasting blood sugar levels by 50 percent and 35 percent, respectively. This was compared to their starting, or baseline, levels prior to the study when the mice had not yet received any onion extract. The extract was also found to reduce their total cholesterol levels.(1)
“It has the potential for use in treating patients with diabetes,” says lead investigator Anthony Ojieh, MBBS (MD), MSc, of Delta State University in Abraka, Nigeria.(1)
This finding reinforces others that have come before it; for example, in 2009, the Journal of Medicinal Food published their findings involving studies with diabetic rats. In addition to giving them onion extract, researchers also gave the rats garlic extract, both of which were found to play a role in reducing the concentration of plasma glucose as well as body weight.(2)
The health benefits of onions can be easily obtained by people; Ojieh explained that the the onion used in their study was derived from onion bulb that can be found at local farmers’ markets or supermarkets.
Eat more onions to fight infections, cancers and more
Enjoying onions on a regular basis can do wonders for health; they’re considered to be a significant source of polyphenols and flavonoids as well as dietary fiber, folate, potassium and manganese.(3)
Eating them has also been linked to everything from fighting bacterial infections (primarily involving ones of the mouth such as gum disease and ones that lead to cavities) to keeping certain cancers at bay. They’ve even been linked to keeping inflammation under control thanks to its flavonoid antioxidant, quercetin. Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or allergic airway inflammation can be managed by ingesting more of this helpful ingredient.(3)
According to the World’s Healthiest Foods site, “Colorectal cancer, laryngeal cancer, and ovarian cancer are the cancer types for which risk is reduced along with moderate amounts of dietary
onion.” In such cases, consuming about one-half of an onion daily on an individual basis is recommended.(3)
Ways to enjoy more onions in your daily diet
Incorporating onions in your diet is easy, as there are many ways to enjoy them. A fairly obvious way to eat more of them is to top salads with them. But they can also be added to soups; their nutrients are not lost in this instance but rather dispersed throughout during the cooking process.
Onions can be added to vegetables too to give their flavor a boost. They can also be mixed with mashed avocado to create a healthy guacamole or a dip with extra zing.
Just be sure to store onions properly; they should be kept at room temperature away from bright light and remain in an area that receives adequate ventilation levels. Green onions, however, are the exception, as they should be refrigerated.
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