Onions: the hidden health food

The humble onion doesn’t tend to receive a lot of attention compared to some of its flashier vegetable brethren. It doesn’t quite have the fancy smash-ability of the avocado or the (largely unhealthy) appeal of the potato.

However, if you’ve been cooking with onions for years like many of us, you’re in for a welcome surprise about the immense health benefits they can provide.

The Australian Onions Health Report recently found that the vegetable supplies your body with a powerful bundle of vitamins that can help fight inflammation, protect against some cancers and even protect the body from the sun’s UVB damage.

Nutritionist Kathleen Alleaume conducted the report, which also found that the onion’s high levels of vitamin C, phytochemicals, prebiotics and flavonoids were a powerful mixture for improving gut health and reducing the risk of heart disease.

“Onions are a reliable, versatile and affordable staple that can help keep you and your kids healthy on the inside and out,” said Alleuame.

The good news is that even if you’re slow cooking onions for a barbecue, this does not significantly alter their nutritional value. (It might be best to go easy on the sausages, though.)

And if you’re cooking for fussy eaters, sneaking an onion into the dish is a lot easier than trying to hide a bright red tomato.

These health benefits almost make the tears from cutting up an onion worthwhile, but if you’d prefer not to cry every time you cook them, a handy trick is to cut the bottom core first. This is the part of the onion that releases the tear-inducing gas.

Another method to get rid of the onion sob-story is to refrigerate or freeze them before cutting, and to peel the onion under cold running water.

The report found that less than seven per cent of Australians met the recommended daily intake for vegetables, and named the humble onion as a potential saviour of this miniscule number.

In a nation with a growing obesity epidemic, a serve of onion also contains only 96 kilojoules along with its cocktail of vitamins – definitely not a bad deal.

So next time you’re looking in the pantry for a healthy vegetable to add to your meal, don’t overlook the onion – beneath that skin are layers of health benefits!

What’s your favourite dish to throw an onion or two into?

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