What Makes Red Onions So Healthy?
Onions are overlooked vegetables. Whether they’re being sautéed for a soup, sliced for a burger, or pickled for a salad, onions rarely steal the show of a meal. Onions are most known for their pungent flavor, not necessarily their nutritional value.
Did you know that...
Onions are one of the highest natural sources of a powerful flavonoid quercetin.
Quercetin is the most common bioflavonoid that people consume and is the most active of the bioflavonoids in laboratory experiments. Quercetin is one of the most studied dietary flavonoids and is associated with multiple health benefits.
Quercetin is known to act as an antioxidant, neutralizing free radicals that can cause cellular and DNA damage. Everyone undergoes oxidative stress, which is caused when there is an imbalance of harmful free radicals, which damage cells and tissues. This process happens inside the body, so although we may not feel immediate effects from oxidative stress, it can affect both health and the immune system over time. Antioxidants can help quell some of that stress. And since quercetin acts as a free radical scavenger and supports antioxidant processes, it is especially good at this.
Quercetin is also thought to have anti-inflammatory properties by inhibiting the release of substances that mediate the inflammatory response, such as histamine.
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to stress and injuries and usually helps the body heal. However, chronic inflammation can be harmful to the body and may contribute to certain health conditions. That is when Quercetin steps in to help reduce inflammation.
Quercetin plays a positive role in supporting healthy blood pressure and endothelial health. The endothelium is the thin layer of cells lining the body’s blood vessels and heart. It is considered an active organ in the body as it helps control when blood vessels relax or constrict.
Quercetin may contain anticancer properties that might help prevent the spread of cancerous cells and tumor growth. It has been shown to inhibit the proliferation of a wide range of cancer cells including colon, brain, liver, prostate, breast, endometrial, ovarian and lung tumors. It causes apoptosis (cell death) of cancer cells, and is a strong antioxidant due to its ability to chelate metals and hunt for oxygen free radicals.
Quercetin might prevent allergy symptoms. Histamine is a chemical released after injury or an allergic response. As a part of the immune system, histamine helps rid the body of allergens that cause irritation. It initiates allergic reaction syndrome such as hives, runny nose, watery eyes, and swelling of the lips and face.
Quercetin’s antioxidant and anti-allergic properties inhibit histamine release, and decrease production of pro-inflammatory molecules such as cytokines, leukotrienes, and interleukin IL-4. Anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties of quercetin effectively used to treat bronchitis, asthma responses, allergic rhinitis, and peanut-induced anaphylactic reactions.
It may also benefit eczema by inhibiting secretion of histamine and other pro-inflammatory substances.
Quercetin has antibacterial properties, which are effective against almost all types of bacteria. Along with other flavonoids, it might also help fight off viruses, such as adenovirus,
herpes simplex virus, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
Quercetin can improve physical performance for athletes and support endurance by helping to increase blood flow, which carries oxygen and nutrients through the body, including the muscles and joints. Its anti-inflammatory properties may also benefit athletes as aerobic exercises elevate free radical production in the muscles, which in turn, increases muscle damage and fatigue.