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Onions, being the oldest vegetable in history, is one of the most versatile and healthy vegetables you can eat. Whether you eat them raw with their strong pungent taste or cook them to add sweetness and flavor to the meal, they are a healthy choice.


There are many types of onions which generally fall under the one name, “onion” however there are many different types of onions; the most common is the “garden onion” which is a bulb and grown underground.  Onions are the oldest known vegetable in the history of mankind dating back to 5000 BC.  The different types of onion varieties are the bulb onion, which is grown from seed; multiplier onions which are green onions that are raised from bulbs and produce shoots; Egyptian onions that are produced from bulblets in the head of the flower, and the green onion or spring onion. 

Where are Onions Grown?

The top 3 cultivators of onions in the world are China, who produce over 97 thousand tons a year, India, who produces 55 thousand tons a year, and The United States, who produces over 33 thousand tons a year.  Among the top ten cultivators of onions in the world, over 64 million tons of onions are produced worldwide each year. 

How to grow Onions

Onions are most commonly grown from sets that are first started as seeds from the year before but they can also be grown from simply planting the seed in the ground.  Sets are made by planting onion seeds thickly into the soil one year which results in a plant that is stunted in growth and produces a small bulb.  Those bulbs are planted the next year to produce the onion.  Onions which are generally referred to as “short day onions” are usually planted in the fall in areas that have very mild winters and will form bulbs in the early part of spring. 

Health Benefits and Nutrients Found in Onions

Nutrients Found in Onions

Onions are very low in saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol.  They are an excellent source of fiber which helps to keep the digestive track working properly.  Onions also contain Vitamin B6 which is required to sustain a healthy nervous system that positively affects the skin, the blood cell system, mucous membranes, and the peripheral nerves.  Onions are also an excellent source of Vitamin C which keeps the cells within our bodies healthy and builds our immune system stronger. 

Healthy ways to Prepare Onions

The healthiest way to prepare onions is to eat them raw as cooking decrease the nutrients contained in the onion however using onions in stir-fry, roasting them, or sautéing them with olive oil are also healthy ways to prepare and use onions. Steaming onions is the most nutritious way to cook onions if you don’t wish to eat them raw.  Raw onions have a pungent taste and smell however cooking onions tends to lessen the pungency and adds sweetness to the onion. 

The onion can be used in many different types of cuisine and is found in nearly every culture around the world.  

Health Benefits of Onions

Because of the content of Vitamin B6, onions can help maintain a healthy central nervous system.  Vitamin C which is found in large quantities in onions is essential for healthy cellular growth and helps to fight off free radicals that have been associated with many types of cancer.  Vitamin C is also essential for building a strong immune system.  Onions are a very good source of fiber which is helpful in maintaining regularity and a healthy digestive system.  Onions are low in sodium, saturated fat, and cholesterol and can be very helpful in maintaining a healthy heart.

Onions, being the oldest vegetable in history, is one of the most versatile as well as healthy vegetables you can eat.  Whether you eat them raw with their strong pungent taste or cook them to add sweetness and flavor to your meal, onions are a very good source of nutrition to add to a healthy diet. 

  • Dr. Rajiv Sharma (2006). Improve your Health! with Garlic, Onion. Practical guide for everyone. The Book Factory. New Delhi.

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