Onions are found in almost every kitchen, yet many of us are unaware of benefits they offer.
Onions are a rich source of quercetin, a chemical that is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. However, quercetin is sensitive to heat, and may be lost depending on your cooking method. Studies have also found that onions are linked to a reduced risk of certain cancers such as stomach, colorectal and prostate cancer.
Besides its anti-bacterial and antiseptic properties, onions also contain natural sugar, vitamins A, B6, C and E, as well as minerals such as sodium, potassium, iron and dietary fibre. By the end of this article, you’ll want to pick up a bundle of onions every time you grocery shop.
Onions are particularly useful for the relief of coughs and colds.
To cure your flu, make a nourishing soup with six onions and vegetable or chicken stock. Throw in a whole garlic, 2.5cm of grated fresh ginger and some cayenne pepper. You could also add in lemongrass for flavour.
Onion soup is also an ideal hangover cure as it replenishes salt and potassium in your body.
Are you peeling onions? Well, don’t!
Research has shown that onion skin is rich in antioxidants – perhaps more so than the onion itself. To prevent pesticides from entering your food, consider using organic onions. To let its nutrients steep in, throw the flaky skins in while cooking a soup or stew before removing them midway.
For stubborn coughs, colds, flus and sinus infections, especially among kids, chop and steam a couple of onions and garlic, and mix them with a few tablespoons of corn stage and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Wrap the mixture in a natural fibre cloth to make a poultice and place the poultice on the chest for 30 minutes. It helps if you top the poultice with a heating pad.
Onion tea helps relieve sore throats. Boil a cup of water with onion skins till the water takes on the colour of the onion skin. Remove the onion skins, sip on the onion tea, and bid your sore throat goodbye.
To relieve your cough, cut a big red onion into quarters and steam it. It is optional, but you may also add in garlic as well as apple slices. After 30 minutes, strain out the ingredients and drink the onion juice.
Another wonder about the mighty onion is that it has incredible absorbing properties. In fact, once an onion is cut open, it immediately begins absorbing. Hence, consume only fresh onions.
Place white or yellow onions in your living spaces to clear out bacteria. In fact, some people believe that if you cut an onion in half and put one half in each sock while you sleep, it helps you detox and get rid of your cold.
Though your breath may stink, chew on a raw onion to improve your oral health as it eliminates bacteria that can otherwise lead to tooth decay and gum issues. Raw onion is also known to lower the production of bad cholesterol and keep your heart healthy.
For the ladies, onions can help prevent irregular periods and soothe those horrid menstrual cramps. Know your cycle and consume raw onions about four to five days before your period.
Choosing and Storage
In Singapore, we typically use large and small red onions for making Nonya spices and large yellow onions for stews and meat dishes. Shallots are aromatic and have a sweet bold flavour that are ideal for making Chinese cuisine gravies and sauces. Spring onions are recognised by their long green leaves and are often used raw in salads.
To choose fresh onions, look for firm, heavy onions with no soft spots or bruises, or damp and mouldy patches. Keep them in a cool, dry place in the kitchen. Unless they are scallions or leeks, do not store them in the fridge as they will soften and grow mould. Keep them away from potatoes as both vegetables with deteriorate more rapidly when kept together.