With more than 40 million tonnes of onions eaten around the world, the humble onion now ranks in first place as the top vegetable. The UK itself produces nearly half a million tonnes, and when you begin to peel back the layers and look at its health benefits, it’s no wonder this brawny bulb is so popular.
They are steeped in history -the Egyptians using them in mummification as they saw the onion’s circles as a symbol of eternal life, and in the late Middle Ages onions were cut in half and placed around the house in an attempt to protect against the bubonic plague. Obviously, the humble root vegetable couldn’t really ward off the Black Death with its distinct smell, but it does have some other wonderful properties.
Simon Bandy, General Manager of Health Plus, gets under the skin of onions and reveals what really lies beneath the layers of this member of the allium family.
Prebiotics – most people understand antibiotics and probiotics, but not prebiotics. Onions contain a water-soluble fibre, a prebiotic, which helps feed the good bacteria in the gut, known as probiotics. If you maintain healthy gut flora it can help support the immune system and ease bloating.
Vitamin B – Onions contain both vitamin B6 and B9 which support the metabolism, red blood cell production and nerve function. Another way of getting a daily dose of these is to opt for a multi-vit like Health Plus B100 Complex (30 vtabs / £6.75).
Vitamin C – When we think of this vitamin we normally think of fruits like oranges, lemons, and strawberries. Surprisingly it is found in many vegetables like broccoli, sprouts and onions. Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron, promotes healthy skin and is an antioxidant. As it is water soluble, the body doesn’t store this vitamin so we need to top it up on a daily basis.
Quercetin – You may not have heard of this but it is found in many fruits and vegetables, and is an antioxidant which may help eliminate free radicals that could damage cells in the body. It is also known for boosting immunity and reducing inflammation, so can be beneficial for those who exercise.
Potassium – The body doesn’t naturally produce this mineral but it is essential for many bodily functions including heart health, blood pressure and water retention. Both too little and too much can be dangerous, so getting an even balance is essential. If you don’t think you’re getting enough, try Health Plus Potassium (30 vtabs / £3.45).