Benefits of Onions
claims have been made for the effectiveness of onions against conditions ranging from the common cold to
heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and other diseases. They contain chemical compounds
believed to have anti-inflammatory, anticholesterol, anticancer, and antioxidant properties such as quercetin. However, it
has not been conclusively demonstrated that increased consumption of onions is directly linked to health benefits. Some studies
have shown that increased consumption of onions reduces the risk of head and neck cancers. In India some sects do not eat
onion due to its alleged aphrodisiac properties.
many parts of the world, onions are used to heal blisters and boils. A traditional Maltese remedy for sea urchin wounds is
to tie half a baked onion to the afflicted area overnight. An application of raw onion is also said to be helpful in reducing
swelling from bee stings. In the United States, products that contain onion extract are used
in the treatment of topical scars; some studies have found their action to be ineffective, while others found that they
may act as an anti-inflammatory or bacteriostatic and can improve collagen organization in rabbits.
Onions may be especially beneficial for women, who are at increased risk for osteoporosis
as they go through menopause, by destroying osteoclasts so that they do not break down bone.
An American chemist has stated that the pleiomeric chemicals in onions have the
potential to alleviate or prevent sore throat. However onion in combination with jaggery
has been widely used as a traditional household remedy for sore throat in India.
Shallots have the most phenols, six times the amount found in Vidalia onion, the variety with the lowest phenolic content. Shallots also have the
most antioxidant activity, followed by Western Yellow, pungent yellow (New York Bold), Northern Red, Mexico, Empire Sweet,
Western White, Peruvian Sweet, Texas 1015, Imperial Valley Sweet, and Vidalia. Western Yellow onions have the most flavonoids,
eleven times the amount found in Western White, the variety with the lowest flavonoid content.
For all varieties of onions, the more phenols and flavonoids they contain, the
more antioxidant and anti-cancer activity they provide. When tested against liver and colon cancer
cells, Western Yellow, pungent yellow (New York Bold) and shallots were most effective in inhibiting their growth.
The milder-tasting varieties—Western White, Peruvian Sweet, Empire Sweet, Mexico, Texas 1015, Imperial Valley Sweet,
and Vidalia—showed little cancer-fighting ability. Shallots
and ten other onion (Allium cepa L.) varieties commonly available in the United States were evaluated: Western Yellow, Northern
Red, pungent yellow (New York Bold), Western White, Peruvian Sweet, Empire Sweet, Mexico, Texas 1015, Imperial Valley Sweet,
and Vidalia. In general, the most pungent onions delivered many times the benefits of their milder cousins.