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The Healthiest Veggie

Protects your brain
Onions are a good source of the antioxidant quercetin. This flavonoid may help offset oxidative damage to muscle fibres and body tissues caused by intense exercise. In fact, in a study using lab animals, quercetin helped prevent oxidative damage to brain tissue after a long workout.

Keeps your heart healthy
The pungent odour from onions (and garlic) comes from sulfur-containing compounds called allyl sulfides. These compounds, combined with onions’ rich quercetin content, may help protect blood vessels from damage caused by cholesterol, boosting heart and vascular health.

Strengthens bones
In a study published in 2009, women who ate onions daily had greater bone density than those who didn’t eat onions. And among older women, onion-eaters had a 20 per cent lower risk of hip fractures. Researchers think sulfurous compounds, quercetin, and other antioxidants may be responsible for the beneficial effect.

Reduces cancer risk
A host of flavonoid compounds in onions (including quercetin) may help ward off cancer by preventing damage to genetic material inside cells, ultimately blocking cancer-causing agents from wreaking havoc. Studies show that frequent onion-eaters have lower risk for some types of cancer and heart disease compared with people who don’t eat them.

Aids digestion
Onions contain a special type of carbohydrate called fructo-oligosaccharides (or FOS) that, while not digestible by our enzymes, serve as food for our intestinal-tract bacteria. FOS promotes the growth of healthy, immune-boosting bacteria – while keeping the bad bacteria at bay – and also helps improve digestive function by relieving constipation.

FAST FOOD RECIPES: Runner-friendly dishes in 20 minutes or less:

5 MINUTES: Grilled Onions
Slice a red or sweet onion into half-centimetre-thick slices; drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook on a hot grill, 2 minutes per side. Use on burgers or sandwiches or add to salads.

10 MINUTES: Onion-Mushroom Sauté
In a pan heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sauté one sliced onion with 1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms for 5 minutes; add 1/2 cup red wine and salt and pepper. Simmer 4 minutes. Serve on top of fish or lean meat.

15 MINUTES: Onion Soup
Slice an onion into circles; sauté 5 minutes. Heat beef broth in a pot; add onions, pepper and salt. Cook 5 minutes. Ladle into bowls with Swiss cheese on bottom. Top with toast and cheese. Cook under oven grill for 3 minutes.

20 MINUTES: Onion-Topped Pizza
Heat oven to 220°C. Roll pizza dough to fit a pizza pan. Top with pesto, shredded mozzarella and Gruyère cheeses, and 1 thinly sliced red onion. Sprinkle with chilli flakes. Bake 15 minutes.

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