Most everyone loves chicken, but onions can be looked down on most of the time. This potent bulb can make you cry when you prepare your meal, but you will jump for joy when you realize just how beneficial it is for your health.
Even better news is that onions can be easily added to any meal and flavor in enhanced right along with your well-being.
Onions are low in calories and mostly made of water, which makes them ideal for diets. While eating a raw onion is rare, they are perfect for adding to salads, sandwiches, sauces, soups, and pretty much any meal.
As a natural way to flavor a dish, you can avoid overusing salt. Onions can vary from sweet to sharp and are available through every season.
Onions are rich in soluble fibers called fructans, which are a type of prebiotic fibers (not to be confused with probiotics). This means they are the perfect food for your gut bacteria and provide them with the nutrition and fuel they need to promote optimal gut health and digestion.
The digestion of onions by your gut bacteria releases short-chain fatty acids that promote gut health and reduce inflammation in your digestive tract.
In addition to the high fiber content, onions are full of other beneficial plant compounds that boost your health. The majority of the benefits come from the antioxidant properties of the compounds as well as the sulfur content. Plant compounds are the most efficient and natural source of antioxidants, and onions contain a nice selection for you.
♦ Quercetin, which is one of the most beneficial flavonoids you can get
♦ Anthocyabins, which are only found in red and purple onions
♦ Thiosulfinates, which inhibit the growth of harmful microorganisms
♦ Sulfur-containing compounds, which provide anticancer benefits
♦ Each of these compounds helps to promote your health in specific ways:
1. Antimicrobial benefits: Bacteria and yeasts are opportunists that lurk everywhere. With constant exposure to these potentially harmful microorganisms, we can use a little extra protection. The essential oils in onions suppress the growth of these microorganisms, preventing them from taking over your body and damaging your health.
2. Bone health: Bone density loss is common as we age and diet is one of the most effective ways to prevent this. Onions, specifically, have been shown to increase bone mass and protect against bone deterioration and proves to be effective at preventing the development of osteoporosis.
3. Blood sugar management: Diabetes is one of the most common diseases in the country and is marked by high blood sugar levels. Raw onions contain oils that help to manage blood sugar levels, as they increase the amount of insulin available and reduce the amount of glucose present in the blood.
4. Cancer protection: The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of the plant compounds in onions are responsible for providing cancer protection. Regular consumption of onions has been linked to a reduced risk for certain cancers such as breast, stomach, colon, and prostate cancers.
The sulfur-containing compounds in onions also work to detoxify potential carcinogens that you are exposed to, thereby reducing your risk for cancer.
5. Heart health: Onions are not the typical food we call to mind when it comes to heart health, especially when many associate the food with heartburn. Yes, onions can trigger acid reflux in some people, but this has nothing to do with your heart.
Quercetin has been found to support heart health by promoting optimal blood pressure and preventing the hardening of arteries. As it happens, onions are full of quercetin.
There are numerous recipes involving onions, so there will never be a dull meal in your house. The recipe below demonstrates one of the many ways onions can be cooked and used to improve even a bland food like chicken.
4 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or thighs)
Salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1. Cook the chicken first. Season both sides of the chicken breast with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook the chicken thoroughly, then remove to a plate.
2. Caramelize the onions by adding the butter to the skillet along with the onions. Lower the heat to medium-low and allow the onions to cook for 12-15 minutes, stirring them as needed to prevent from sticking. The onions will be done when they soften completely and deepen in color. Add the thyme, red pepper flakes, sugar, and balsamic vinegar, and then let the vinegar cookout for a couple of minutes.
3. For the sauce, you will need to grab your whisk. Slowly pour in the chicken broth in a steady stream while you whisk. Turn the heat up to high and let the sauce reduce for 2-3 minutes or until it thickens slightly. Once the sauce reduces, you can lower the heat, and add in the cream.
4. Do not allow the cream to start boiling immediately, as it will cause the sauce to split. Let the sauce come to a gentle simmer. Once it does, you can add in the chicken breasts and spoon the sauce on top. Serve immediately.
Onions have been linked to digestive issues for those who have allergies or trouble digesting fermentable fibers. However, for the majority of people, onions are rich in flavor as well as benefits and make a great addition to a healthy and balanced diet. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of the plant compounds will keep you healthy, while the flavor keeps your food interesting.