If you are dealing with a persistent cough, it’s likely you have a buildup of mucus in your throat and chest causing you to feel “congested.” If not cleared, this could lengthen the duration of your illness or lead to a more serious condition.
Nearly 37 million Americans live with chronic lung conditions like asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis. In 2019, there were 534,242 deaths due to respiratory diseases. The recent COVID-19 pandemic further posed challenges to our health.
The congestion you are feeling is due to mucus production which is a natural function of the body. Mucus is a sticky, gelatinous material that lines your lungs, throat, mouth, nose, and sinuses and aids in keeping the body healthy.
When you have a cold or virus, it might feel like you are producing more mucus, but it’s more likely a change in the consistency of the mucus. If you are dealing with a chest cold or virus, it’s likely you are producing another form of mucus known as phlegm, produced by the lungs and the respiratory system. All of which builds up in your chest and throat, making you feel “congested” and overall not well.
Luckily, there are key nutrients that can aid in eliminating throat and chest congestion and getting you feeling better fast.
Your Superstar Nutrient, the Humble Onion
Onions are amongst the oldest cultivated vegetables, second only to tomatoes — both of which are extensively used for culinary purposes all over the world.
For years, onions have been studied for their health benefits and role in respiratory health. It was discovered that regular consumption of onions can reduce the risk of cancer, cataract, DNA damage, and vascular and heart diseases. (5)
Further, it has been demonstrated that cooking with onions and garlic with pan-fried meat reduces the formation of carcinogens.
A study on the phenols in onions examined the antioxidant properties of four types of onions (red, violet, white and green). It was found that chopping, refrigeration, oven roasting, and frying did not have a significant reduction of compounds in red onions that have antioxidant properties. [1,2]
Onions are high in vitamin C, dietary fiber, and folic acid. They also contain calcium, iron, protein, quercetin, and organosulfur compounds that give onions that pungent smell and provide antioxidants and unique health benefits. Moreover, they are low in sodium and contain no fat.
Why does it matter? Antioxidants are compounds that help delay oxidative damage to cells and tissue of the body.
Studies have indicated that quercetin helps eliminate free radicals in the body, protects and regenerates vitamin E (a powerful antioxidant), and fights the harmful effects of chelate metal ions. It also prevents certain types of fat from clogging up blood vessels, which leads to heart diseases. 
Thanks to its nutritional value, accessibility, and delicious flavor, it’s no wonder this versatile bulb is a staple in cuisines across the world and forms the flavor base for a wide variety of dishes. Let’s talk about its benefits in detail.
Why You Should Love Onions
Here are some of the most important nutritional benefits of onions. If you’re looking for more reasons to buy an onion or two the next time you go shopping, you’ve come to the right place.
Onions Help Improve Heart Health
Eating onions can be beneficial to your cardiovascular system. In particular, research has discovered that onions have properties that help reduce high blood pressure and triglyceride levels.
Darker-colored onions, such as red and chartreuse onions, have the highest levels of quercetin. According to the American Chemical Society, the “tearless onion” can also help protect against heart disease. 
Onions May Reduce Cancer Risk
Some intriguing research has been conducted on how onions may play an important role in cancer prevention.
A University of Guelph study concluded that red onions, in particular, are the most effective at reducing colon and breast cancer cells. This is due to the high levels of quercetin and anthocyanin (another type of antioxidant).
Another study published in Cancer Prevention Research discovered that one to seven servings of allium vegetables, such as onions, are high in compounds with tumor-inhibiting properties.
Onions Are Rich in Antioxidants
Onions are high in antioxidants that fight diseases and free radicals. They also help repair and protect damaged cells in the body.
Onions contain at least 25 different flavonols, according to a review published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.
A diet high in antioxidants can help reduce inflammation and prevent free radical damage, resulting in a stronger immune system and overall better health.
Tried-and-True Onion Recipes to Eliminate Throat and Chest Congestion
Onions have been used for years for medicinal purposes for colds, flu, and congestion, and not just by your grandmother.
Grandma’s Decongesting Onion Recipe
An onion chest poultice is an old medicine treatment that is surprisingly effective for chest congestion. It is a great remedy that will improve circulation to the lungs and reduce congestion.
- ½ cup of Spice World Easy Onion
- ½ teaspoon of water
- Old dish towel
- Lightly saute Spice World Easy Onion in a small pan with water for 4-5 minutes.
- Pour the juice and onions into the old dish towel. Fold the sides of the dish towel into the center to make a square poultice.
- Carefully make sure it is not too hot, apply the poultice to your chest, and leave it in place for 20 minutes.
- Bundle yourself up with blankets while you rest.
Warning: the compress can be quite hot when you first apply it to the skin so make sure that it is warm but not too hot to the touch.
It is not uncommon to experience coughing and loosening of the chest congestion during and after the application of the poultice.
Soothing Onion Cough Syrup
Sage and onion syrup soothes the throat and eases coughing. Homemade onion and sage syrup is best consumed after a few days of storage. It can be stored in the refrigerator for several months.
- ½ cup of Spice World Easy Onion
- 1 teaspoon of Spice World Minced Garlic
- ½ cup of water
- ½ cup of honey
- Dash of Sage
- Place the Spice World Easy Onion, sage, honey, and Spice World Minced Garlic in a jar
- Stir all ingredients well and seal the jar properly and set it aside at room temperature for about eight hours.
- Strain and use the liquid as a cough syrup. Store in your refrigerator.
Quick Immune Building Onion Broth
- ¼ cup of Spice World Easy Onion
- 2 cups of water
- 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme
- Season with cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Chop the thyme.
- Put olive oil in a pan and add Spice World Easy Onion, thyme, and cayenne pepper.
- Turn on low heat and saute till brown.
- Add water and cook over low heat until onions are translucent.
- Strain the soup.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve warm.
It’s a great idea to keep Spice World Easy Onion and Minced Garlic on hand, not only to make for quick work when you are sick but for all your recipes.
Other Ways to Improve Lung Health
The onion recipes will work best when you also practice a healthy lifestyle. Combined with the activities below, these will surely improve your lung health. No more coughing or sniffing!
There are exercises like diaphragmatic breathing and pursed-lips breathing that can help maintain lung capacity, making it easier to keep your lungs healthy and get your body the oxygen it needs.
Lung exercises can benefit most people but are particularly helpful for older people and those with conditions that affect breathing. The American Lung Association recommends performing breathing exercises daily for 5–10 minutes.
Spending Time in Isolated Nature
According to a study published in July 2022 in the European Respiratory Journal, getting children to green spaces as they grow up could improve their lung health. Spending time outdoors has many benefits. It can boost your mood, reduce stress and promote relaxation.
Your brain uses 20% of the oxygen you breathe in to function. Increased exposure to fresh air can provide greater clarity to the brain, promoting optimal function and allowing you to think, focus, and concentrate more effectively.
Additionally, breathing in fresh air can help reduce airborne illness and infection. This is because bacteria and viruses have a lower chance of survival in fresh air. This is in contrast to the warm, humid indoor environments in which they thrive.
- Antioxidant and free radical scavenging activities of phenols from onion (Allium cepa) – ScienceDirect
- Effect of curing and cooking on flavonols and anthocyanins in traditional varieties of onion bulbs – ScienceDirect
- Onion (Allium cepa L.) is potentially a good source of important antioxidants – PMC
- ‘Tearless’ onions could help in fight against cardiovascular disease, weight gain — ScienceDaily
- Onion Health Research
- 9 Impressive Health Benefits of Onions
- How to Make Onion Syrup for a Cough