Whenever possible, our team likes to boost our health through natural methods. Of course, we listen to advice from our doctors, but we also want to help ourselves through diet and lifestyle choices. One of the best things is when we learn that a staple food has excellent health benefits. It reminds us of the power of having a healthy diet, and, sometimes, it prompts us to eat more of the foods we already love!
Onions are ubiquitous. There is the joke that, to make anyone say, “What are you cooking? It smells amazing,” all you have to do is start cooking onions in a pan. Onions go in so many sauces, on top of every sandwich, in salads and are key in many dishes. It’s hard to imagine savory cooking without onions. But did you know that they have many health benefits, including possibly lowering cholesterol?
The compound quercetin, found in onions, can lower cholesterol. And, onions are thought to play a role in preventing inflammation and artery hardening. While you would obviously want to avoid onion rings and straws, adding more onions to your diet could offer you a health boost.
Quercetin is thought to be responsible for the positive results of many studies. Both animals and people see reductions in LDL cholesterol when consuming quercetin. It doesn’t lower HDL cholesterol. That’s actually positive news. LDL cholesterol is the “bad” kind, while HDL is the “good” sort of cholesterol.
One of the largest questions when looking at the benefits of food is always about the benefits of cooking it. Quercetin can move from the onion to what it is being cooked in. It’s best to eat them raw, lightly sautéed or cooked in a liquid you’ll eat. And the healthiest components of an onion are close to the surface. Only remove the papery skin of the onion.
One study found that onions may lower cholesterol levels by slowing down how much your liver creates and then increasing the amount you convert to bile acids. But, the study said, cooked onions did so much more efficiently. That is great news for people who aren’t fans of onions as a topping or garnish.
One of the wonderful things about onions is that they pack such a flavor punch. Aside from their own health benefits, they allow you to cut out a lot of salt and other unhealthy ingredients. If you follow a plan like DASH, you can use onions to add a lot of flavor and fiber to a meal while not adding any salt, fat or cholesterol.
All in all, onions are a great, cholesterol-free food. If you don’t use them in your everyday cooking, you should. If you do use them daily, you can rest assured knowing that you are taking a step toward taking care of your cholesterol without even realizing it!