Wondering what are onion health benefits? Me too. Because I read that onions and garlic may help me manage my pain. So this article will address the benefits to your health of onions. And also garlic. Read more to find out why.
Why Are Onions and Garlic Helpful to Fight Pain?
Firstly, we need some definitions. These two foods are actually bulbs of the plant, and are called allium, a flowering plant. The bulbs are rich in Vitamins C and B6 and other minerals.
Specifically they contain the flavonoid quercetin. Flavonoids have a positive effect on cell function, notably with regulating free radicals. Free radicals cause stress on your cells. A toxin would be considered a free radical. These toxins can be linked to chronic diseases. Quercetin is a pigment found in plants that seems to bind to free radicals to limit their effects.
Therefore they function as antioxidants. Oxidants like toxins age the body. Inflammation is actually our body reacting to harmful substances or oxidants. This inflammation can cause pain. Enter onions and garlic, which reduce inflammation, and therefore, hopefully pain.
So, onions and garlic reduce inflammation by fighting the free radicals and may therefore reduce pain. I really couldn’t find a whole lot of research that backed up this relationship. Most research has been done on other benefits. However, since there are very few side effects from consuming onions and garlic, I think increasing these foods in my diet is worth a try.
Other Health Benefits
Besides fighting inflammation, consuming alliums has been linked to:
- fighting cancer
- lowering blood pressure
- fighting heart disease (although this study from 2007 says no effect on LDL; Effect of Raw Garlic …)
- fighting neurodegenerative disease
- treating colds and coughs
- are anti-fungal, antibacterial and antiviral
You can find a very extensive discussion in this article from Today’s Geriatric Medicine. Or this article from the National Institute of Health, which concludes the benefits are not conclusive though hopeful.
I can testify that when I was younger I would frequently get colds that always turned into sinus infections. Since taking garlic gel caps, I get very few colds and can’t remember the last time I had a sinus infection.
I have researched other foods that contain antioxidants, should you be interested. Check out my post How Is Green Tea Good for You?
How Effective are Garlic and Onion Supplements?
I didn’t even know there were such a things as onion supplements.
I was unable to find definitive research comparing supplements and fresh garlic. One study (Examine.com) says that aged garlic supplements and fresh garlic are the two best ways to get the benefits.
Consuming fresh garlic is easy enough. Cooking it does affect its strength but is still the most palatable way to eat it and still get the benefits. Aged garlic is available in supplements. You must check to see if your supplement claims that. A brief search showed me that Kyolic, Total Heart Health, Formula 108, Wakunga all contained aged garlic.
I didn’t know there were supplements for onions. But apparently there are! One company that sells them is Secrets of the Tribe.
What Form Should You Consume?
So the best forms appear to be fresh and aged garlic in supplements. The same can be said of onions. But another study says that a supplement of quercetin 166 mg. would provide the same results.
So you have a few options I believe; fresh, supplements or quercetin supplements. Here’s an easy to read article about quercetin and its benefits; Quercetin, What is It?
Who Should Not Consume These Foods?
I am not a nutritionist or health care professional. I include this section because my Mom could not eat garlic and onions. They gave her headaches. So if you aren’t regularly consuming these foods, I would recommend you start slowly. I read that some people are allergic to onions. I wonder if this was my Mom’s problem?
Also, even though I haven’t heard of them interfering with medication, just to be careful, before you start consuming them, check with your doctor.
Finally I read that these two foods are sulfur rich and therefore have the effect of “heating” up the body. People with intestinal issues like acid reflux and ulcers and redness of the skin should avoid them. Also, people with an unhealthy gut should also avoid them. Apparently you need a lot of those probiotics in your tummy to withstand the garlic and onion heat.
Want to know more? See this article which does have a yoga theme but is very informative.
Both of these foods may interfere with blood being able to clot as they work as blood thinners. So, again, check with your doctor about whether you should eat these foods.
One final word! Be prepared to have garlic or onion breath!
How Can You Prepare Them for a Tasty Meal?
Both onions and garlic are very low in calories, so adding them to your dishes won’t add more calories.
Did you know there is a National Onion Association? Well, now you do! Click here for a variety of recipes including vegan and recipes for kids!
Saute onions and garlic to add to soups, stew and casseroles. Sauteing adds to the flavor. You don’t have to use oil or butter to saute either. You can use water if you are cooking vegan. Just keep an eye on the pan. The water evaporates pretty quickly.
I have a favorite recipe that I lost which contains onions and garlic. Plus it’s vegan. I can’t remember the exact measurements but the ingredients and approximations follow.
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 red, orange, yellow bell pepper
- 1 onion
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- tomato paste or sauce or 2 tomatoes (I avoid tomatoes so I use paste or sauce; use what you prefer.)
- 2-3 cups water; however much it takes for the quinoa to absorb. Start with 2.
- Vegetable bullion; I use Better Than Bullion.
- Salt and pepper to taste. (Be careful, the bullion can be salty.) Add other herbs as you like. I love basil.
Saute garlic and onion. Add other ingredients. Bring to boil. Turn down to simmer until all the liquid is absorbed.
Or check out this video! Baked onions? I haven’t tried it but it looks yummy and so easy! Check it out.
Comments or questions?
Do you have a comment to add? Or a question? I would be happy to respond to either one. I was actually frustrated that I couldn’t find more research relating pain relief to these two foods. So I am open to learning more if you have more information.