Onions: Layers of Nutrition

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 21st July 2011

A recent study by a team of Spanish and British scientists has identified different nutritional benefits within the layers of onions. They found that onions are rich in nutrition, even those layers that are typically discarded.

The scientists from the Department of Agricultural Chemistry at the Autonomous University of Madrid and Cranfield University in the United Kingdom have just published their results in journal Plant Foods for Human Nutrition.

The scientists had carried out laboratory experiments to identify the make-up and possible uses of each part of an onion.

According to the study, the brown skin of an onion is high in non-soluble dietary fibre and has antioxidant capabilities.

“Eating fibre reduces the risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal complaints, colon cancer, type-2 diabetes and obesity,” said researcher Vanesa Benitez.

Antioxidants, on the other hand, help to prevent coronary heart disease and have anti-carcinogenic properties.

The inner layers of an onion contain prebiotics that selectively stimulate colon growth and activity. The sulphurous compounds in the inner layers can also help to improve blood flow and cardiovascular health by reducing the accumulation of platelets.

Sulphurous compounds are also beneficial to the antioxidant and anti-inflamatory systems of mammals.

“The results show that it would be useful to separate the different parts of onions produced during the industrial process,” said Benítez. “This would enable them to be used as a source of functional compounds to be added to other foodstuffs.”

There has been a trend in recent times for food companies to seek to include additional nutritional properties such as antioxidants, dietary fibre and prebiotics on their products. This study may be helpful in developing further functional claims.

This article is sourced, with editorial adaptations, from ScienceDaily. http://www.sciencedaily.com/