The onion family of vegetables are an indispensable ingredient in kitchens across the globe, extensively used in various local cuisines and are a tremendous gift of good health from Mother Nature. Besides onions, garlic, shallots and chives, there is yet another variant of the allium botanical group known as spring onions.
These bulbous veggies with thin green leaves contain vast reserves of essential nutrients and though they have a subtle minty aroma compared to onions and garlic which possess a strong invigorating smell, spring onions nevertheless confer ample wellness incentives. These include enhancing immunity, improving gut health, strengthening bones and joints, averting the risk of cancer and enriching eye health.
The Spring Onion Plant:
Spring onions, scientifically termed as Allium fistulosum, are native to cold temperate regions of China, also being grown widely in Japan, Thailand, Korea for centuries. However, thanks to the remarkable nutrition profile and amazing health benefits, scallions are being cultivated around the world since the 21st century, including Asian countries of India, Nepal, besides African nations of Nigeria, Ecuador and in North America – USA, as well as Australia and New Zealand.
Also called green onions or scallions, spring onions thrive as herbs in groups, reaching heights of up to 50 cm. They have white fibrous roots, present as a cluster with a strong odour. Bulbs are round, along with a slightly bigger tip as well as white layered scaly fragments, that have white vertical stripes. The leaves are vivid green, of varying lengths and attached to the white bulb. The flowers bud from the leaves, are pale green and arranged in a circular manner, which sprout into small fruits with tiny black seeds.
The edible portion of spring onions are the white bulbs and green leaves, which are generally present in clusters and display an impressive nutritional profile.
Spring Onion/Scallion Nutritional Content:
The nutrition present in a 100 g serving of spring onions, according to the USDA Food And Nutrient Database, is as follows:
Total Calories 32
Protein 1.8 g
Fat 0.4 g
Carbohydrate 7.3 g
Fiber 2.6 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Vitamin A 997 IU
Vitamin C 18.8 mg
Vitamin B6 0.06 mg
Vitamin E 0.55 mg
Vitamin K 207 mcg
Riboflavin 0.08 mg
Thiamin 0.06 mg
Folate 64 mcg
Niacin 0.52 mg
Calcium 72 mg
Copper 0.08 mg
Iron 1.48 mg
Magnesium 20 mg
Manganese 0.16 mg
Phosphorus 37 mg
Potassium 276 mg
Selenium 0.6 mcg
Sodium 16 mg
Zinc 0.39 mg
Spring onions are brimming with essential nutrients, being rich in dietary fibres, vitamins A, C, K, B6, B9, as well as calcium, iron, zinc and potassium. Furthermore, these green vegetables are also packed with phytonutrients such as kaempferol, flavonoids, quercetin, anthocyanins and phenolic compounds derived from plants that house powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.
Also Read: Potassium: Functions, Food Sources, Deficiency And Toxicity
It comes as no surprise then that these flavourful aromatic greens are incorporated into numerous staple dishes of soups, salads, pancakes, curries, sauces, noodles and fried rice in Asian cuisine. Spring onions are also widely added to Indian recipes of dals, rasam, parathas to lend a refreshing aroma and enticing flavour, besides the abundant health benefits they bestow for overall wellbeing.
Health Benefits Of Spring Onions/Scallions:
Boosts Immune System
Consuming about half a cup of spring onions will satisfy the daily vitamin C requirement in healthy adults. Vitamin C not only functions in enhancing iron absorption for enhanced blood circulation, but also works to improve immunity by white blood cells in the system. In addition, vitamin C is obligatory for growth and development of all body tissues and a key antioxidant for removing toxins from the system.
Maintains Heart Health
Being intrinsically high in potassium levels, spring onion assists in the maintenance of normal blood pressure. It also functions in promoting cardiac muscle activity, lowers the amounts of bad LDL cholesterol and raises levels of good HDL cholesterol. Furthermore, scallion is very advantageous in preventing instances of heart attacks and stroke and thereby contributes to a longer and healthier lifespan.
Relaxes Muscle Cramps
Spring onion is bestowed with the key mineral for optimal muscle function – magnesium. The significantly high magnesium content in this green veggie makes it an ideal option to provide relief from muscle sores and cramps. Moreover, post a high intensity workout, when muscles in the arms and legs are strained, consuming spring onion soup can instantly alleviate symptoms of pain and discomfort.
Also Read: Ayurveda For Muscle Cramps: Proven Natural Remedies To Soothe Aching Legs
Scallion comprises valuable dietary fibres which ensure proper bowel movement upon ingestion of heavy meals. This is crucial to regulate kidney function and filter out all the toxic waste products upon digestion of food and assimilation of required nutrients. It also efficiently relieves intestinal conditions like constipation and indigestion.
Fortifies Bones And Joints
The calcium present in spring onion is absorbed by bones in the body, thereby helping to maintain optimal bone density for day-to-day functions and flexible, unobstructed movement. The very high potassium content in spring onion complements bone health by enhancing mineral uptake by cells and tissues in the body.
Combats Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Spring onions offer profuse amounts of vitamin C that confers anti-inflammatory properties to reduce swelling in the bladder, which is more common in women than men. Also, its antioxidant capabilities are useful in removing detrimental free radicals and harmful bacteria from the body. This in turn helps to avoid oxidation of the healthy cells in the excretory system organs, thus ensuring proper elimination of wastes and unnecessary food residues from the body and preventing their accumulation in the system.
Also Read: Urinary Tract Infection (UTI): Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
Helps Cure Anemia
Vitamin C also performs one very vital function in the human body which is of enhancing the absorption of iron from ingested food. Deficiency in iron quantities leads to a condition known as anaemia wherein there is a lack of adequate red blood cells in the body to transport nutrients and oxygen to all cells and tissues. Adding scallions to the regular diet will guarantee ample uptake of iron, from foods, into the system and promote red blood cell synthesis and blood passage.
Reduces Skin Inflammation
Spring onion contains several essential amino acids that help to build healthy skin cells and also suppress any redness and swelling that tends to develop on skin exposed to harsh environmental states. Its high flavonoid content provides antioxidants traits to assist in combating free radical damage, diminish acne, scars and dark spots and lessen skin irritation.
Effectively Combats Cancer
Spring onions contain a treasure trove of powerful nutrients, particularly bioflavonoids, a class of plant-based antioxidants. These significantly lessen the symptoms of pancreatic and intestinal cancers. Spring onions also possess the ability to remove excess estrogen – a female reproductive hormone involved in breast development and thus prevents breast cancer. The inherent dietary fibres infused in scallions ward off colon cancer and enhance gut health.
Aids In Weight Loss
Spring onion is bestowed with immense quantities of natural fibres. These take a while to get completely digested and thereby regulate appetite. They also need to be ground harder by teeth to be converted into simpler forms for easier processing. This in turn keeps untimely cravings for junk food at bay. Scallion also regulates lipid metabolism in cells and tissues and reduces starch and sugar amounts in the body.
Tasty And Wholesome Recipes With Spring Onions/Scallions:
Spring Onions, packed with an array of vital nutrients, are much more than just mere toppings on fried rice and vegetable salads, which can be used to prepare tantalizing fare imbued with good health.
Spring Onion And Potato Soup
This simple recipe comprising spring onion greens and mashed potatoes with subtle hints of black pepper makes for a perfect hearty dish at lunch or dinner, also helping to boost immunity and promote digestion.
Also Read: Easy And Healthy Soup Recipes To Boost Your Immunity
1 cup spring onion – both bulb and greens, cut into small pieces
1 medium-sized potato, boiled and peeled
2 tbsp butter (salted)
5 cups water
Salt, as needed
Pepper, for taste
A sprig of coriander leaves, finely chopped
In a large pan, heat butter on medium flame until it melts, then add the spring onions, salt and pepper.
Sauté this mixture for 2 – 3 minutes so the spring onions become soft, then add water, allow it to boil, lower the flame and simmer for 10 minutes.
Transfer this blend to a mixer, add the boiled potatoes and puree to obtain a smooth concoction.
Heat this mix for 2 – 3 minutes so it thickens a bit, adjust for salt and pepper as per taste.
Garnish with a few spring onion greens, top it off generously with fresh coriander leaves and serve this enticing spring onion and potato soup hot for lunch or dinner.
Spring onions are laden with vitamin C, that bolsters immune system functions and keeps diseases at bay. Delivering ample carbohydrates and dietary fibres, potatoes improve energy levels and facilitate smooth digestion. Coriander leaves contain a treasure trove of phytonutrients such as alkaloids and flavonoids which enhance liver wellness.
Also Read: Coriander Leaves: 5 Excellent Health Benefits Of Adding These Aromatic Leaves To Your Daily Diet
Scallion Oil Noodles
Scallion oil noodles is a super-easy traditional Chinese dish, infused with intense flavours of soy sauce and spring onions. Made with whole wheat noodles, this healthy recipe satiates the appetite, augments heart health and is a treat for the taste buds too.
2 cups whole wheat noodles
1 cup rice bran oil
2 cups spring onions, cut diagonally
2 tsp regular soy sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce
2 tsp sugar
In a deep vessel, heat water on medium flame and once it boils, add the whole wheat noodles and cook until they soften, then drain excess water.
Heat rice bran oil in a pan, add the chopped spring onions and cook on low-medium flame for 3 – 5 minutes so they become golden-brown and crisp.
Set aside the boiled noodles and fried spring onions.
Add sugar and both the soy sauces to the pan in some oil, stir well until the sugar dissolves completely.
Now, mix in the whole wheat noodles and crispy spring onions, stir well so all flavours are absorbed.
Top it off with some fresh spring onion greens and enjoy the mouth-watering scallion oil noodles warm with a side of salad for lunch or dinner.
Rich in vitamin A, spring onions or scallions enhance eyesight and prevent vision-linked disorders such as glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Rice bran oil houses profuse amounts of PUFA and MUFA – unsaturated fatty acids that enhance cardiac functions and avert the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Whole wheat noodles supply dietary fibres to promote gut health, aid in bowel movements, fulfil the appetite, prevent untimely cravings and are also high in B vitamins to boost metabolism.
Side Effects Of Spring Onions/Scallions:
Spring onions usually do not cause any noticeable side-effects when taken in moderate quantities. Although allergies are rare, some people may experience hypersensitivity reactions of runny nose, itching in eyes and skin, wheezing upon consuming spring onions/scallions and hence must steer clear of this vegetable.
Furthermore, too much intake of spring onions can result in digestive disorders and trigger nausea, bloating, vomiting, irritable bowel syndrome and acid reflux/heartburn. Thus, it is crucial to eat only measured quantities of this green veggie as part of the daily diet.
Spring onions undoubtedly pack in a delightful flavour and fragrant aroma to dishes, be it soups, salads, curries, noodles or fried rice. This bulbous green vegetable related to the onion family – the allium species – is a wholesome combination of great taste and good health, comprising umpteen essential nutrients of vitamins A, C, K, folate/B9, besides minerals of calcium, iron, phosphorous and myriad plant-based antioxidants. From uplifting immunity, fortifying bones and joints to promoting weight loss, digestion, heart wellness and even preventing cancer, spring onions are indeed a nourishing bounty. Add the aromatic spring onions in moderate amounts to the regular diet to avoid any harmful side-effects and reap it wonderful merits for overall health and wellbeing.