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.
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.
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.