An onion is widely known for its numerous layers of skin.
A common cultural reference would be to “peel away the layers of an onion”, a witty reference to getting to know someone better.
An onion is made up of layers.
A layer of skin protects an onion from the external environment.
The skin of an onion is made of three layers.
The outermost layer, or cuticle, is so tough that it resists peeling.
The middle layer, or epidermis, comprises cells containing pigment and the enzyme that makes alliin, which turns into sulfenic acid when cut.
The innermost layer, or subcuticular tissue, consists primarily of calcium salts and water.
Being stationary in nature, plants produce everything they require to defend and heal themselves.
Plants channel their protective properties into their outer shells where they are the most vulnerable to predators, insects, and other creepy crawlies.
You use outer onion skin for soups, salads, and casseroles.
They are an excellent natural source of nutrients like:
- Vitamin A, C, and E
- The antioxidant quercetin
Their skins provide an exceptionally rich source of compounds found in plants called flavonoids, phenolic substances that act as antioxidants for the plant.
Quercetin is the most powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound found among them and can be found in higher amounts than any other food group on the market.
Quercetin is widely known to:
- lower LDL cholesterol
- alleviating allergies
- suppressing inflammation
- control blood sugar levels
- aiding muscle growth and function
- treating conditions such as depression
- reduce the risk of cancers and other serious diseases
As a Plant Science Expert at North Carolina State University, Mary Ann Lila explains that “Plants are master chemists.”
Plants do not have the capacity to move, so they produce what they need to grow, defend themselves and heal.
Plants will produce compounds in response to stress and these same compounds, when administered to a person, can help them cope with stress.
Plants would likely produce protective compounds on their outward locations, such as the leaf’s skin and peels of fruits, where they are the most vulnerable and likely to get attacked.
To extract the beneficial nutrients from the skin, you can chuck a whole onion or two into a soup, stew, crockpot, or rice pot.
Alternatively, you can put loose skins into a food-grade mesh bag and boil them together with the rest of the dish.
Onion skins can be used to thicken the soup broth and provide a brown or mahogany color, depending on which onion you use.
Are onion peels good for you?
An onion’s skin has a texture akin to that of thin, dry paper.
It might not be the most appetizing texture, but the skins are rich in vitamins and minerals and can be added to soups and stews to add to the nutrient count.
In addition, onion skins have been known to:
It may help in hair growth
Loose and non-growing hair could be treated with onion peels.
Mix a sliced onion in water and boil. Rinse the hair with regular shampoo after applying boiled onion.
After shampooing hair, rinse it with this solution, and hair will become softer and dandruff might be reduced.
Excellent source of antioxidants
Onion skins, like onions, are a rich source of antioxidants like quercetin.
These antioxidants have been credited with:
- Reducing blood pressure
- Lowering cholesterol
- Reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease
- Helping with Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s
- Reducing inflammation
- Controlling blood sugar levels
It may help in relieving pain
The anti-inflammatory properties of onions and their skins have been shown to improve joint or muscle pain, or chronic conditions like arthritis.
You can make onion peel tea by boiling the peels for about 15 minutes then straining and drinking.
It may help in improving skin problems
Onion skin has been used for a long time to heal skin conditions such as rashes, inflammation, and itching. Rubbing onion peels on the affected area may provide some relief.
It may aid in relieving sore throat
The anti-inflammatory properties can help relieve sore throats and help fight respiratory infections.
Just boil the peels in water for 15 minutes and let it cool, and then gargle for about 20 seconds.
Do you have to peel onions?
The traditional way of eating an onion includes cutting off the stem and removing all of the dry, exterior layers before peeling and chopping.
On the other hand, peeling an onion removes the eye-watering chemicals that accumulate on the outside of the vegetable.
One study found that peeling causes these layers to break down and leave enough openings for bacteria to get into your food.
Another found that when you peel an onion, you might be removing beneficial compounds like quercetin and kaempferol which contribute to cancer prevention.
Onions are considered a superfood because of the high amounts of antioxidants present.
Onions contain the highest amounts of the powerful antioxidant quercetin.
Quercetin has long been known to have an impressive range of health benefits including reducing the risk of cancer, lowering blood pressure, lowering LDL cholesterol, and controlling blood sugar levels.
Do you wash onions after peeling?
While cooking with unwashed onions kills any harmful bacteria present, there’s no harm in giving it a quick rinse after peeling.
Onion is one of the cleanest vegetables when it comes to pesticides, but that doesn’t mean they are automatically bug-free.
Vegetables travel a long way from the farm to the grocery store, then on into your home.
Numerous people handle them and could introduce chemicals and other contaminants onto the onion’s skin.
Once you’ve handled the skin by peeling them, you then transfer the contaminants onto the freshly peeled onion.
You can also use a veggie brush to dust off any dirt or grime.
Raw onions should be washed to remove any bacteria or chemicals present before consumption.
The best way to prepare raw onions for a salad is to chop them first and run them in a strainer until they are clean.
Many chefs do this to ask for raw onions that have a milder and sweeter flavor.