Onions – those veggies that make us cry! We just tend to hate them when we need to cut them but then again, we cannot live without onions, can we? They add flavor to the most mundane of foods and of course, they come with tons of health benefits. We are not going to focus on onion health benefits in this article. We are going to take a look into some of the most fascinating onion fun facts and onion trivia that will leave you surprised. So, let’s get started…
Onion Facts: Classification
Onion Facts: Nutrition Chart
|PRINCIPLE NUTRIENTS||NUTRIENT VALUE||PERCENTAGE OF RDA|
|Energy||40 Kcal||2 %|
|Carbohydrates||9.34 g||7 %|
|Protein||1.10 g||2 %|
|Total Fat||0.10 g||0.5 %|
|Cholesterol||0 mg||0 %|
|Dietary Fiber||1.7 g||4.5 %|
|–Folates||19 µg||5 %|
|–Niacin||0.116 mg||1 %|
|–Pantothenic acid||0.123 mg||2.5 %|
|–Pyridoxine||0.120 mg||9 %|
|–Riboflavin||0.027 mg||2 %|
|–Thiamin||0.046 mg||4 %|
|–Vitamin A||2 IU||0 %|
|–Vitamin C||7.4 mg||12 %|
|–Vitamin E||0.02 mg||0 %|
|—Sodium||4 mg||0 %|
|—Potassium||146 mg||3 %|
|–Calcium||23 mg||2 %|
|—Copper||0.039 mg||4 %|
|—Iron||0.0.21 mg||3 %|
|–Magnesium||10 mg||2.5 %|
|—Manganese||0.129 mg||5.5 %|
|—Phosphorus||29 mg||4 %|
|—Zinc||0.17 mg||1.5 %|
Onion Facts: 1-5
1. Onions have been around for quite some time. The oldest known cultivation of onion dates back to around 5,000 BCE. This means that they have been around for some 7,000 years. Yes, onions have been around since the Bronze Age.
2. Sliced onions don’t become poisonous. That’s an urban myth. Sliced onions anything but prone to contamination by bacterial growth. So, toxic bacteria will not form on them even if you keep sliced bacteria overnight. You won’t get food poisoning or stomach infection from such onions.
3. In ancient Egypt, onions were worshiped. It was believed by ancient Egyptians that concentric rings and spherical shape of the onions were symbols of eternity.
4. People of ancient Egypt used to cover the tombs of their rulers with onion pictures and onions played a vital role in burial rituals. They believed that onions will help the dead succeed in the afterlife.
5. Well, just because the Egyptians were heavily into onions, there is no point thinking that they were the ones who cultivated the veggie for the first time. That’s not true. Onions originated either in central Asia or in West Pakistan (once part of India in ancient times) and Iran.
Onion Facts: 6-10
6. During the Middle Ages, onions were actually used as gifts and even currency. People used to pay for services and goods and even paid rent using onions.
7. Slicing onions make us cry and we really hate that. But why do we cry while cutting onions? That’s because, when we cut onions, sulfur is released by the veggie. This sulfur reaches our eyes and combines with the moisture to produce sulfuric acid.
8. The sulfuric acid thus produced in our eyes leads to a painful sensation and the brain immediately acts. In a defensive stance, our brain makes our eyes produce tears that eliminate the acid. That’s what we call crying while cutting onions.
9. One of the best methods that you can deploy while cutting onions to prevent tears is to cut them under running water. Alternatively, you can also apply some white vinegar on the cutting board and then cut the onions on them.
10. Did you know that Libyans are famous for eating onions. The per capita onion consumption of Libya per year is a whopping 66.8 pounds.
Onion Facts: 11-15
11. According to Old English folklore, if the skin of the onion is thick, it means that a harsh or severe winter is coming. A thin skin, on the other hand, denotes a mild winter.
12. New York City, which is today known by the moniker ‘Big Apple’ was once known as ‘Big Onion’. This is according to the book called ‘1,000 Places to Visit Before You Die’. The book was authored by Patricia Schultz.
13. China is the world’s largest producer of onions. The average annual production of onions by China stands at 20,507,759 metric tons. India takes the second spot with 13,372,100 metric tons and America takes the third spot with 3,320,870 metric tons annually.
14. General Ulysses S. Grant, during American Civil War, sent a telegram. Addressed to the War Department, it read – “I will not move my army without onions”. The result was that three train cars loaded with onions were immediately shipped.
15. Onion is considered to have antiseptic properties, and hence, it was heavily used during war times to heal wounds.
Onion Facts: 16-20
16. In Nebraska’s Blue Hill, there is a law – quite a bizarre one actually. As per the law, if a woman wears a big hat that can intimidate a timid man, the woman will be forbidden from eating onions. Interestingly, that law exists in books!
17. Greeks used to think that eating onions would boost strength and hence, athletes during the first Olympic Games of 1st century CE ate onions.
18. In ancient India, onions were used as diuretic. It means that they used the veggie to have good eyes, heart and joint health.
19. Peter Glazebrook – a British farmer grew the world’s largest onion ever in 2011. The onion made it to the Guinness Book of World Records and weighed 18 lbs.
20. Onions are the world’s 6th most popular vegetable crop (based on the volume produced per year).
Onion Facts: 21-25 (Health Benefits)
21. Helps in Lowering Diabetes
Clinical studies on both animals and humans have shown that onions play a major role in controlling the levels of sugar in blood. Simply put, diabetics should add onion as a staple food item in their daily diet if they want to regulate their blood sugar levels.
In the studies conducted, it was found that blood sugar levels were controlled significantly in those who were served 100 grams of raw onions on a daily basis.
In onions, one can find chromium which is known for regulating blood sugar. Again sulfur present in onions is known as a substance responsible for triggering increased production of insulin and thereby reducing blood sugar levels.
22. Helps Strengthen Your Bones
Osteoporosis – does this term sound familiar to you? It is the problem of porous bones and is especially common in women who have attained menopause.
In a large study conducted with women older than 50 years of age, it was found that daily consumption of onions not only led to increase in density of bones but also significantly reduced bone loss.
This particular feature of onions comes from a specific compound found in onions known as the GPCS (according to Swiss researchers).
In addition, Arthritis Foundation says that quercetin found in onions is known for inhibiting histamines, prostaglandins and leukotrienes – all of which are responsible for inflammation in both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
23. Helps in Fighting Cancer
Meta-analysis done in 2015 shows that onions play a vital role in reducing risk of gastric cancer.
The risk of several types of cancer such as ovarian cancer, laryngeal cancer, colorectal cancer etc. can be reduced significantly by consuming up to 7 servings of onions per week. Onions have Quercetin – a very potent anti-cancer agent.
This agent is known for inhibiting cancer cells in lung tumors, endometrial tumors, ovarian and prostate tumors, colon tumors and breast tumors. Basically what onions do is that they activate certain pathways that provoke the cancerous cells to commit self destruction.
24. Helps in Keeping Your Heart Healthy
As we said, your heart is smitten by onions, but why? Orangosulfurs – these are compounds present in onions.
They are known for cutting down the risks of contracting cardiovascular diseases.
Red onions in particular are very rich in flavonoids – types of plant pigments that are bioactive – and are known for reducing the risks of various cardiovascular diseases.
Flavonoids help to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) and keep the heart healthy.
Thiosulfinates present in onions are known for blood thinning properties and hence, reduces the risk of stroke and heart attacks.
Quercetin in onions is known for preventing the buildup of plaque in arteries and thereby reduces stroke and heart attack possibilities.
Onion is also known for preventing the blood platelets from sticking with each other and hence, prevent clotting. Onions increase fibrinolytic activity – a process that removes small blood clots.
25. Keeps Your Digestive System Healthy
We all know the troubles we go through when we have a weak digestive system. Onions can help to give you a very healthy and robust digestive system.
There is a type of dietary fiber in onions. It is known as inulin. This fiber is a source of beneficial bacteria right in our stomach.
This bacteria helps in the proper digestion of food. Apart from inulin, onions also have oligofructose – a type of soluble fiber that helps in treating as well as preventing various types of diarrhea.
Onions are also rich in several phytochemicals that reduce gastric ulcer risks.
If you have constipation problems, onions can help a lot. Loaded with natural prebiotics, onions ease the problem.
In addition, scientists also believe that the natural prebiotics in onions can help to treat gut worms and stomach ache.
Onion Facts: 26-30 (Health Benefits)
26. Helps in Boosting Immunity
Yes, they help to improve our immune system, thanks to the selenium present in onions. The mineral is known for preventing excessive immune response as well.
If our immune cells run low on selenium, they fail to reproduce and develop efficiently. So, selenium helps in proper development and reproduction of our immune cells.
Healthy immune cells can carry calcium and necessary proteins properly. Also, onions are known for having polyphenols that work as antioxidants and scavenge free radicals, which are responsible for disrupting our immune system.
Additionally, onions have Vitamin C as well that is known for boosting our immunity.
27. Helps in Fighting Against Allergies and Inflammation
Quercetin present in onions is known for relaxing airway muscles, and hence, provides some relief to asthma patients.
Also, onions help in treating allergies by preventing histamine release by cells. Studies suggest that onions have antibiotic effects and can speed up the healing process for wounds.
As far as antibacterial properties of onions are concerned, a study suggests that onion extracts work against a bacterium known as Streptococcus sobrins and various mutants of the bacteria.
This bacteria is known for causing allergies and dental caries.
28. Keeps Your Eyes Healthy
Our eye lenses need sulfur for proper functioning and onions have no scarcity of sulfur.
Sulfur in onions is known for stimulating glutathione production. Glutathione is a protein that works very much as an antioxidant.
Glutathione levels in our body are inversely proportional to macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts. Then, there’s selenium in onions. This mineral has a very important role of supporting vitamin E in our eyes.
A group of Iranian scientists have found that onions are also responsible for growth inhibition of eye flora, and hence, it can play a vital role in curing infections like blepharitis and conjunctivitis.
29. Keeps Your Brain Healthy
Our body produces and also gets various harmful toxins. These toxins, when they reach our brain, can wreak havoc over the long term.
Onions are known to be rich in antioxidants that can bind with these toxins in our brain and flush them out of our system. In addition, age-related memory loss is also slowed down by sulfur compounds present in onions.
Memory impairments in humans can be treated with onions. A specific sulfur-compound in onions known as the di-n-propyl trisulfide does this. For best results as far as the brain is concerned, eating onions raw is suggested.
30. Helps in Reducing Oxidative Stress
There are several studies that prove this. For instance, a Chinese study revealed that onion juice consumption modulates oxidative stress in our body.
Again oxidative stress induced by diabetes is also reduced by onions. The credit for this actually goes to quercetin, which is also responsible for protecting DNA damage caused by oxidative stress.