My mother always told me if I feel bad about something, cut an onion. Why? The cleansing power of onions while chopping them up, is sure to invoke a stream of tears that washes out even the toughest victim. There is just no stopping the force of onions in more ways than one. Onions, though often left to the frying pan as a simple seasoning, could be called one of nature’s least recognized and most potent super foods.
The Super-hero Vegetable
I know, you’ve heard all the hype and rave about red wine, pomegranates, green tea, and grape seed as amazing anti-oxidants and potent protectors against cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other common ailments, but did you know onions could trump every single one of these superior foods? That’s right, common onions are like the super-hero dressed in street clothing, hiding in your kitchen – silently healing you at every opportunity. Every time you chop them up and add them to stir fry’s, meat dishes, eggs and salads, they are helping prevent pathogens and microbial contamination by acting as a powerful antibiotic and fortifying your immune system.
One source suggests that perhaps it is the copious amount of onions eaten by the French, and not the red wine, that contributes to their low level of heart disease. Interesting. Onions do contain elasticity enhancing benefits for blood vessel as well as the powerful ability to inhibit hardening of the arteries. They are heroes at protecting the nerves and the entire cardiovascular system as well as boosting the immune system and preventing tumor growth.
Onions can increase longevity through regular ingestion and contain the rarely concentrated (though highly available in nature), much desired flavonoid, quercetin. Quercetin is a natural anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine which can help ward off cancer and heart disease as well as helping with symptoms of allergies, arthritis and other conditions when other things can’t. Eating the whole onion, rather than just quercetin supplements is preferred, as you get better protection from oxidated stress due to all the synergistic and complimentary nutrients in the onion.
High in Sulfur
Onions are high in sulfur, important in literally hundreds of physiological processes. Sulfur is one of the most predominant elements in the body and important for hair growth, cardiovascular health, the nervous system and the production of insulin. Sulfur is essential for the proper functioning of every muscle in the body and is needed in the synthesis of many amino acids including taurine and glutathione and is found in cysteine and methionine.
Used for many common annoyances, onions can disinfect bites, heal mouth sores, induce sleep, alleviate toothaches, earaches, relieve dysentery, strengthen varicose veins, heal bruises, get rid of coughs, sore throats, congested sinuses and lungs. For hoarseness and coughs, just mix some chopped fresh onion with a bit of raw honey and swallow. Onions are strong ‘vital life-force mineralizers’ as David Wolfe put it in his book Eating for Beauty.
A study at the University of Bern in Switzerland recently showed that eating one dry gram of onion per day for four weeks increased the bone-mineral content of rats by 17%, implying onions may be key in the elimination of osteoporosis.
Heavy Metal Genius
Onions can inactivate the harmful effects of heavy metals in the body. This is critical information for those suffering with heavy metal poisoning from something as simple as fillings in the teeth. Heavy metals can be difficult to detox from the system, but onions literally render these elements inert in the body.
For reducing the risk of certain cancers, it is recommended to consume up to seven servings of onions per week.
Going above and beyond the call duty, super-onions have a deeper ability to affect us on the emotional level. Besides getting us to cry when nothing else could (and we so needed it), onions, with their many layers tend to help us open the heart to release deep sadness. As time goes by, unresolved issues tend to get buried in us, like the layers of an onion. From time to time, something will trigger us to ‘let go’ of one layer – which is great, but often leaves us feeling vulnerable like we just got caught with our clothes off. To eat onions regularly and smell their pungent fragrance can help us slowly and safely release the sadness which keeps us from truly expressing our most authentic selves. This is known as the ‘plant signature’ – looking at the way a plant is constructed and grows, to understand the purpose of it. Onions grow as a root, showing us their ability to help us get at the root of an issue.
In Ayurvedic medicine, onions are considered rajasic, or having the ability to stimulate change. By eating onions during an otherwise ‘stagnant’ time in your life, you can assist your body, mind and emotions in moving to the next level of growth. The sweet and somewhat spicy smells and taste of the onion signify its ability to stimulate both the sweetness and the much needed ‘wildness’ of life – good for everyone! If you have been neglecting adding onions to your shopping cart lately, it’s time to pick some up. Onions may well be the most important, and least recognized super food in the kitchen. Saute away!
Written by: Stasia Bliss