How often do you eat onions?
a) Less than once a month
b) Twice a month to twice a week
c) Three to six times a week
d) Once a day or more
If you answered “d” — once a day or more — your bones may be thanking you. Several recent studies have shown onions are a top crop when it comes to supporting bone density.
For example, we’ve seen that white women 50 years or older who ate onions every day had a 5% greater overall bone density than those who ate onions once a month or less. And — older women who consume onions most frequently may decrease their risk of hip fracture by more than 20% versus those who never consume onions.
Those are pretty impressive results for preventing bone loss! Another study compared the effects of eating onions to those of Fosamax in rats that had their ovaries removed (surgical menopause) — and found that onions stack up very well. The basic findings were:
• All the rats that had their ovaries removed lost bone (there was a control group that had a fake operation that did not lose bone).
• The rats that had their ovaries removed and were fed onions lost the least amount of bone – and the more onion they were given, the less bone they lost.
• Both the onion-fed rats and the rats who were given Fosamax had bone that was in better shape in terms of its structural components than the rats that had their ovaries removed but weren’t fed either onions or Fosamax — and the former had fewer bone-breakdown cells, so they would continue to lose less bone than their counterparts.
What it boils down to is you can get good results at preserving bone during menopause by regular consumption of onions – without the side effects that may happen with drugs. And onions are high in quercetin, which appears to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Here’s one tip to get the most out of your onions: Many of the phytonutrients in onions are found in the outer layers, so try not to peel off extra layers when you remove the outer, dry layer.
Happy and healthy cooking.
Matheson, E.M. The association between onion consumption and bone density in perimenopausal and postmenopausal non-Hispanic white women 50 years and older (2009) Menopause, 16(4):756-9.
Huang T.-H., Muhlbauer R.C., Tang C.-H., Chen H.-I., Chang G.-L., Huang Y.-W., Lai Y.-T., Yang R.-S. Onion decreases the ovariectomy-induced osteopenia in young adult rats (2008) Bone, 42 (6), pp. 1154-1163.