50 grams of the finest quality dried Minced Garlic
Onion is a term used for many plants in the genus Allium. They are known by the common name “onion” but used without qualifiers it usually refers to Allium cepa. Allium cepa is also known as the “garden onion” or “bulb” onion. It is grown underground by the plant as a vertical shoot that is used for food storage leading to the possibility of confusion with a tuber which it is not.
Onions one of the oldest vegetables are found in a large number of recipes and preparations spanning almost the totality of the world’s cultures. They are now available in fresh frozen canned pickled powdered chopped and dehydrated forms. Onions can be used usually chopped or sliced in almost every type of food including cooked foods and fresh salads and as a spicy garnish. They are rarely eaten on their own but usually act as accompaniment to the main course. Depending on the variety an onion can be sharp spicy tangy and pungent or mild and sweet.
Onions pickled in vinegar are eaten as a snack. These are often served as a side serving in fish and chip shops throughout the United Kingdom and are referred to simply as “Pickled Onions”. Onions are widely-used in India and Pakistan and are fundamental in the local cuisine. They are commonly used as a base for curries or made into a paste and eaten as a main course or as a side dish.
Why do we cry when cutting Onions
As onions are sliced or eaten cells are broken allowing enzymes called alliinases to break down amino acid sulphoxides and generate sulphenic acids. The gas diffuses through the air and eventually reaches the eye where it binds to sensory neurons creating a stinging sensation. Tear glands produce tears to dilute and flush out the irritant.
Supplying ample water to the reaction while peeling onions prevents the gas from reaching the eyes. Eye irritation can therefore be avoided by cutting onions under running water or submerged in a basin of water. Another way to reduce irritation is by chilling the onion or by not cutting off the root of the onion (or by doing it last) as the root of the onion has a higher concentration of enzymes. Using a sharp blade to chop onions will limit the cell damage and the release of enzymes that drive the irritation response. Chilling or freezing onions prevents the enzymes from activating limiting the amount of gas generated. Eye irritation may be avoided by having a fan blow the gas away from the eyes as the onion is being cut.
Wide-ranging claims have been made for the effectiveness of onions against conditions ranging from the common cold to heart disease diabetes osteoporosis and other diseases. They contain chemical compounds believed to have anti-inflammatory anticholesterol anticancer and antioxidant properties such as quercetin. However it has not been conclusively demonstrated that increased consumption of onions is directly linked to health benefits. Some studies have shown that increased consumption of onions reduces the risk of head and neck cancers. In India some sects do not eat onion due to its alleged aphrodisiac properties.
In many parts of the world onions are used to heal blisters and boils. A traditional Maltese remedy for sea urchin wounds is to tie half a baked onion to the afflicted area overnight. An application of raw onion is also said to be helpful in reducing swelling from bee stings. In the United States products that contain onion extract are used in the treatment of topical scars.
Early American settlers used wild onions to treat colds coughs and asthma; and repel insects. In Chinese medicine onions treated angina coughs bacterial infections and breathing problems.
As with garlic onions help prevent thrombosis and reduce hypertension according to the American Heart Association. The juice of one yellow or white onion a day can raise HDL cholesterol (the good stuff) by 30% over time.
Onions contain 25 active compounds that appear to inhibit the growth of cancerous cells help combat heart disease inhibit strokes lower blood pressure and cholesterol and stimulate the immune system. Alliums are also antibacterial and antifungal so they can help ward off colds and relieve stomach upset and other gastrointestinal disorders.
Onions are a very rich source of fructo-oligosaccharides. These compounds stimulate the growth of healthy bifidobacteria and suppress the growth of potentially harmful bacteria and tumours in the colon. In animal studies onions have also demonstrated some hypoglycemic activity and in Asia serve as a tool in traditional medicine for the treatment of diabetes.
This herb offers natural anticlotting agents since it possesses substances with fibrinolytic activity and can suppress platelets from clumping together in the blood. This anticlotting effect closely correlates with its sulfur content. Persons taking coumarins and other anticoagulants should use onions cautiously.
Onions may be especially beneficial for women who are at increased risk for osteoporosis as they go through menopause by destroying osteoclasts so that they do not break down bone.
An American chemist has stated that the pleiomeric chemicals in onions have the potential to alleviate or prevent sore throat. However onion in combination with jaggery has been widely used as a traditional household remedy for sore throat in India.
Shallots have the most phenols six times the amount found in Vidalia onion the variety with the lowest phenolic content. Shallots also have the most antioxidant activity followed by Western Yellow pungent yellow (New York Bold) Northern Red Mexico Empire Sweet Western White Peruvian Sweet Texas 1015 Imperial Valley Sweet and Vidalia. Western Yellow onions have the most flavonoids eleven times the amount found in Western White the variety with the lowest flavonoid content.
For all varieties of onions the more phenols and flavonoids they contain the more antioxidant and anti-cancer activity they provide. When tested against liver and colon cancer cells Western Yellow pungent yellow (New York Bold) and shallots were most effective in inhibiting their growth. The milder-tasting varieties-Western White Peruvian Sweet Empire Sweet Mexico Texas 1015 Imperial Valley Sweet and Vidalia-showed little cancer-fighting ability.
Some people may suffer allergic reactions to onions. Symptoms can include irritable bowel diarrhea mouth and throat ulcerations nausea breathing difficulties and in rare cases anaphylaxis.