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Onions: Are They Really Good For You?

Bountiful fruit and vegetable gardens, loving springtime in Taiwan!

Onions: Are They Really Good For You?

Onions, a rather humble vegetable, are known worldwide. Taiwanese cooking uses a lot of vegetables and the onion is used in large amounts. Why do Asians like onions? What makes onions so special? Raw onions can be hot! Who needs them, anyway? The answer is, you do! Onions can significantly lower your risk of certain types of cancer. Some cancers seem to require more than others. A good rule is to eat an onion a day.  The Asians have this habit down pat. In Taiwan, almost every dish had an onion in it. It is not hard to eat an onion a day if you put it in everything.

Many cultures know the value of onion, but in Taiwanese cuisine, it is such a natural part of everything. Onions are very high in flavonoids. They are in the top ten common vegetables for quercetin content. A one-half onion will give you half of the daily amount of quercetin eaten by moderate vegetable eaters from all sources.

Onions are a vegetable that contains the same amount of quercetin whether you eat it raw or cooked. That is why when you make soup, it is so loaded with quercetin. The only thing is, it is now in the juice. Quercetin does not degrade when cooking with a low heat method. Crockpots cook soup at low heat and thus the Quercetin is preserved. The key is to remember that the juice is important. If you have liquid when you drain the vegetables, just save the liquid for soup broth. It will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.  It keeps in the freezer for the long term. Onions, like garlic, are members of the Allium family! Both onions and garlic are rich in sulfur-containing compounds. It is these compounds that are responsible for their pungent odors!  It is also these compounds that are responsible for many of their health-promoting effects. Onions can be sauteed, grilled, roasted, braised, pickled, stuffed, deep-fried, and cooked into a savory jam. This amazing vegetable is the workhorse of the garden! There is hardly a dish that doesn’t begin with this humble vegetable.

The idea of using onions to ward off diseases goes way back thousands of years. It was believed that sliced raw onions, when placed in their homes or rooms, would help absorb bacteria or germs in the air. Many practitioners in Alternative Medicine believe this is valued today. Many cultures, the world over, treat insect bites, bee stings, and boils with onion compresses. They believe it will ease the pain because of the anti-inflammatory properties of the onion’s enzymes. Onions are amazing! In Taiwan, they seem to know how to use the best and healthiest vegetables. What a treat that is! Health and flavor in the same meal!

When planning your next Taiwanese vacation, be sure to check out the morning markets.  Try many soups. It seems that they have soup for every occasion. Every soup seems to start with garlic and onion. Now that is a double dose of these amazing vegetables. So enjoy the best nutritional foods on your next visit to Taiwan. They are a suburb! They are delicious! They are healing! They are a Taiwanese blessing!

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