The onion, belonging to the Liliaceae family, is well known, appreciated and eaten for millennia. The first signs of its usage go back to the Chaldeans, 4000 years ago, but also the ancient Egyptians used onions a lot, while during Middle Ages the onions were considered a so precious food that they were used as coins. Nowadays, thanks to scientific studies, we know that this edible bulb isn’t just tasty but also rich in antibiotic, antiseptic, expectorant, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, thus useful in case of high blood pressure, slimming and anti-cancer properties (Galeone et al, Am J Clin Nutr, Nov 2006 - Ramos et al, J Agric Food chem, May 2016 - Wilson et al, Nutrition & Food Science 2007).
Moreover, the onion protects the heart and plays a role in preventing stroke and heart attack by thinning the blood and counteracting the cholesterol (Galeone et al, Eur J NUtr, Mar 2009). However, the properties of onion change on the basis of the food preparation and on the other foods with which onion is served. Let’s see better in details this first part where we propose two onion based preparations.
Raw onion, vitamin C and E
Raw onion is the preparation that preserves the most of the beneficial properties. You can daily eat this bulb, cut into thin slices, it is a really healthful side dish. In fact, the onion, when it is eaten raw, is able to lower the blood sugar levels (Akash et al, Nutrition, Oct 2014).
Moreover, the onion contains, in addition to magnesium and zinc, also selenium and sulphur compounds, and, thanks to these characteristics, shows a powerful anti-aging action against the free radicals. You can maximize this anti-aging effect by serving the onion together with foods rich in vitamin C and E (Fausto Aufiero, the nutritional and therapeutic role of the foods). For example, you can season the onion with extra virgin olive oil, or, at the end of a meal, you can eat a vitamin C- high food such as kiwi fruit or orange, in summer you can prepare yummy salads with onion and melon or you can add a little splash of lemon juice.
Then, the cobalt contained in onion protects the functionality of the thyroid. Raw onion has also a diuretic action, useful in case of stones, kidney problems and gout while the quercetin of onion (Alexander Victor Anand David et al, Pharmacogn Rev, Jul-Dec 2016) has an anti cancer effect and is able to activate the sirtuins. The sirtuins are a class of proteins that act in a very peculiar way, they deceive the body by sending a signal that there isn’t enough food and that there is a risk for the survival, the fat isn’t accumulate anymore but used to repair the damages of the cells with the results to get a slimmer and healthier body. Avoid raw onion in case of sour stomach because it may worsen the problem.
Onion and tomato sauce
Tomatoes cooked with a little olive oil make available the lycopene, a powerful antioxidant substance with well demonstrated anti cancer properties. Scientific studies (Rinali de Alvarenga et al, Food Res Int, Sep 2017) have shown that a sauce prepared with a sofrito with extra virgin olive oil and onion is able to further increase the absorption of lycopene with a clear beneficial action on health.