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Sensational Spring Onions

The Delicate Bulb Boosts Health—and Flavor

by Rachel B. Levin

Spring Onions

From daffodils to tulips, spring is made more beautiful by blooming bulbs. It's also made more tasty. Spring is the season when farmers pull immature onion bulbs from the ground, and the result is a sweet, tender, delicately flavored variety known as spring onions.

Spring onions are green-topped like green onions, but they have a larger and more defined bulb. Like their cousins garlic and just "plain old" onions, spring onions are members of the allium family, which owe their myriad health benefits (and their pungency) to a high concentration of sulfur-containing compounds. Though spring onions have a lower amount of these compounds than their more mature counterparts, spring onions still offer many of the same benefits.

Spring onions have long been recognized by ancient healing traditions for their unique curative properties. Chinese medicine practitioners used them to cure sinus infections, believing them to be more beneficial than other onions for this particular ailment. Their efficacy for such infections could be due to the onion's antibacterial properties. The quercitin and vitamin C in onions work synergistically to kill harmful bacteria, making them an excellent remedy for cold and flu sufferers or those staving off digestive discomforts.

Quercitin is also a known tumor fighter. It has been shown to halt the growth of colon tumors and protect colon cells from the potentially damaging effects of cancer-causing substances. Regular consumption of onions is correlated with a reduced risk of colon and other cancers, including ovarian, oral, esophageal, breast, and prostate cancer. The quercitin content may also account for onions' potential to lessen inflammation associated with such conditions as arthritis and asthma.

Health Benefits:

- anti-bacterial properties make them great at-home remedies for sinus-infections, colds and flus
- regular consumption can reduce risk of colon and other cancers
- can lessen inflammation associated with arthritis and asthma
- high levels of sulfur compounds can lower blood pressure and reduce risk factors for coronary heart disease

Onions' role in cardiovascular health is well documented. The sulfur compounds in onions can lower blood pressure and reduce risk factors for coronary heart disease including platelet aggregation and oxidation of cholesterol. Onions' store of chromium is a boon for those with diabetic conditions. It can help keep blood sugar levels in check, improve glucose tolerance, and decrease total cholesterol and triglycerides in patients with diabetes.

Just as spring onions bring balance to the body, they also bring balanced flavor to your favorite seasonal recipes. Unlike more mature onions, they won't overpower a dish. They're wonderful sliced up raw in a salad (they're also known, in fact, as salad onions) or sautéed with fresh spring vegetables. Oh yes, and the cooking experience will be a little sweeter, too—you'll shed fewer tears chopping spring onions than the mature kind, leaving April showers to Mother Nature.


(Updated: 03/14/10 BH)

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