Can This Easily Available Vegetable Help Lower Blood Sugar Levels?

Your pantry is a powerhouse of various ingredients that are packed with countless health benefits. One such vegetable, which is readily available and used daily in most households, is onion. But, while you may know it as a flavor enhancer, did you know that onion bulb is also known to lower blood sugar levels?

“There are various studies suggesting that onion bulbs have hypoglycemic properties due to the presence of sulfur compounds. Allium cepa or onion bulb has a long history of medicinal use. The fleshy bulb that grows under the ground is mainly used for medicinal and dietary purposes, but other parts of the plant are also used in traditional medicines,” said Dr. Archana Batra, nutritionist and certified diabetes educator.

A 2014 review article published in Nutrition noted that onions may have a hypoglycemic effect on people with diabetes. The review authors said the sulfur compounds in onions, namely S-methylcysteine ​​and the flavonoid quercetin, may be responsible for the blood sugar effects. Another remarkable finding of the review presented to 2015-The Endocrine SocietyThe 97th San Diego Annual Meeting suggested that the extract from an onion bulb can “strongly lower” blood sugar and total cholesterol levels when given at the same time as the antidiabetic drug, metformin.

As part of the research, three groups of rats with medically induced diabetes were given three doses (200 mg, 400 mg, and 600 mg per kilogram of body weight) of the onion extract to see if it would boost the effect of the drug.

The researchers also administered the drug and onion to three groups of non-diabetic rats with normal blood sugar. The study found that among the diabetic rats, those given 400mg and 600mg per kilogram of body weight ‘sharply reduced’ their blood sugar levels by 50% and 35% respectively from a baseline. Onion extract also lowered total cholesterol levels in diabetic rats, with 400mg and 600mg having the greatest effects.

Onion has many benefits (Source: Pixabay)

The study’s lead author, Anthony Ojieh, of Delta State University in Abraka, Nigeria, said in a press release at the time: “Onion is cheap and available and has been used as a nutritional supplement. It has the potential to be used in the treatment of patients with diabetes.

Notably, the study also revealed that onion the extract caused weight gain in non-diabetic rats, but not in diabetic rats. “Onion is not high in calories,” Ojieh explained. “However, it appears to increase metabolic rate and with that increase appetite, leading to an increase in eating that required ‘further investigation’.”

Here’s what you need to know.

Onions, especially red onions, are high in fiber. Spring onions have the least fiber of the family. “Fiber takes time to break down and digest, which leads to a slower release of sugars into the blood. Fiber also adds bulk to your stool, which can help relieve constipationa common problem in diabetics,” said Dr. Batra indianexpress.com.

Diabetes Here’s how diabetes and onions are linked (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

The two flavonols found in onions are anthocyanins, which give some varieties a red/purple color, and quercetin and its derivatives. Quercetin is a pigment found in red and yellow onions, Dr. Batra said. She added: “The hypoglycemic effects of onion bulbs can also be attributed to sulfur-containing compounds, such as allylpropyl disulfide (APDS), which lowers blood sugar by competing with insulin (also a disulfide ) for insulin inactivation sites in the liver. Quecertin and these sulfur compounds found in onions exhibit hypoglycemic properties by regulating the activities of certain enzymes involved in carbohydrate metabolism and increasing insulin secretion and sensitivity.

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How much should we have?

In particular, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) encourages eating more non-starchy vegetables because they are low in calories and carbohydrates. According to the ADA, eating at least three to five servings of non-starchy vegetables, such as onions, per day, where one serving equals half a cup cooked or 1 cup raw is a good amount. “However, if one eats more than one cooked cup or two cups of raw onions at a meal, one is likely to add more carbohydrates to one’s daily intake,” it reads.

Dr. Batra said both type 1 and type 2 diabetics have “drop in blood sugar levels after eating fresh onions according to some studies”. “Onions can be used in salads, vegetables, sandwiches, soups and stews, etc. A sustainable strategy for managing any level of health is to practice moderation in all things,” he said. she stated.

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Rachel J. Bradford