“If you’ve never eaten while crying you don’t know what life tastes like.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Onions? You may be thinking I’d better write about something more interesting than the lowly onion to keep your attention. You got me. At this point I can only hold my hands up, take a step back, and agree that onions are not exactly as titillating as talking about the time my husband and I danced on the Zoomanity stage in Las Vegas.
When I started this blog I said I would toss in the occasional eyebrow raising, “Huh, that’s fascinating,” health tip concerning menopause. Since I’m not a fibber—honest!—here is a summery of what onions can do for those facing down menopausal bone loss.
But first, to reward those still with me here’s a joke:
An elderly husband and wife visit their doctor when they begin forgetting little things. Their doctor tells them that many people find it useful to write themselves notes.
When they get home, the wife says, “Dear, will you please go to the kitchen and get me a dish of ice cream? And maybe write that down so you won’t forget?”
“Nonsense,” says the husband, “I can remember a dish of ice cream.”
“Well,” says the wife, “I’d also like some strawberries and whipped cream on it.”
“My memory’s not all that bad,” says the husband. “No problem – a dish of ice cream with strawberries and whipped cream. I don’t need to write it down.”
He goes into the kitchen; his wife hears pots and pans banging around. The husband finally emerges from the kitchen and presents his wife with a plate of bacon and eggs.
She looks at the plate and asks, “Hey, where’s the toast I asked for?”
I never said it was a good joke.
Okay, back to the onions and menopause:
According to Dr. David Williams,* the two things that make onions such a health powerhouse are quercetin and sulfur. Quercetin has been researched and found to be a great antioxidant, anti-cancer, and anti-artherogenic biofavonoid. Sulfur (the tear producer!) compounds are known to be antioxidants, antimicrobial, and antifungal, AND are beneficial for preventing and/or treating heart disease, atherosclerosis, cancer, diabetes, and asthma, to name a few.
Researchers at the University of Bern in Switzerland simulated bone loss by exposing bone cells from newborn rats to the parathyroid hormone, which increases bone breakdown. Some of the cells were treated with onion extract and others were not. The results showed that a natural peptide found in white onions called GPCS inhibited the activity of osteoclasts…which break down and reabsorb bone.
In a survey of peri and post menopausal white women aged 50 and older, participants were asked how often they ate onions. All the women had a total body dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry to measure bone mineral density. After controlling for variables, researchers found that bone density increased as the frequency of onion consumption increased. Women who ate onions once a day or more had an overall bone density 5 percent higher than those who ate onions less often. If you are wondering, that equates to decrease in the risk of hip fracture by up to 25%!
So, you ask, how does one go about consuming onions in a meaningful way? The outer skin and outermost layers contain the most flavonoids/quercetin. Here are the percentages of flavonoid reduction associated with cooking methods:
Frying: 33 percent reduction
Sautéing: 21 percent reduction
Boiling: 14-20 percent reduction
Steaming: 14 percent reduction
Microwaving: 4 percent reduction
Baking: 0 percent reduction
I would encourage you to read the full article, because it is interesting. Dr. Williams describes research on the benefits of eating onions in relation to other health issues. However, Alternatives is a subscription newsletter. I’m not sure if libraries carry it, and I wasn’t able to find an online link for you to use.
So there you go! Personally, I like onions and include them in my cooking. I’ve been trying to eat more raw onions after reading this article, but my sweetie isn’t as thrilled about that. I’m not saying his kisses have diminished, but in any relationship there needs to be a happy compromise, right? Otherwise that whole dancing in Las Vegas thing might not have happened. Wink, wink.
*My source is Dr. David Williams through his Alternatives newsletter, Volume 21, No.1, Jan. 2018.