The onion, known scientifically as Allium cepa, derives its name from the Latin word unio, which means “single,” or “one”—reflecting of the onion plant producing a single bulb, unlike its cousin, the garlic, that produces many small bulbs. The name also describes the onion bulb when cut down the middle; it is a union (also from unio) of many separate, concentrically arranged layers.
Varieties of Onion:
Onions come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and tastes but can be categorized into generally two types of large, globe-shaped onions, classified as spring/summer or storage onions. In addition to these large onions, there are also smaller varieties such as the green onion, or scallion, and the pearl onion.
- White onion: medium to large in shape, with a white papery skin and evenly white flesh. They have a strong flavour and are good for stuffing or baking; only use raw in salads if you want an assertive onion flavour.
- Yellow/Brown onion: a good all-purpose onion, with a light golden skin and yellow flesh.
- Spanish onion: has a similarly coloured skin to a yellow/brown onion, but is usually bigger, as well as sweeter and milder – good for omelettes, salsas and stir-fries.
- Red onion: varies in size, but has a distinctive red/purple skin, and the edge of each of its white rings is tinged with red. The flavour is mild and quite sweet. Good for salads, marinades, salsas and roasts.
Onions are a major source of polyphenols in general, and also of flavonoids (a very important subdivision of polyphenols). In general, red onions are higher in total flavonoids than white onions, with yellow onions falling somewhere in between.
Why Onions Make your Eyes Water:
When chopped, onions produce a volatile, sulphur-rich oil that makes eyes water. Many ways to prevent this have been tried- freezing the onion; wearing goggles or holding your breath – but they are rarely completely effective. The best way is to not cut through the root of the onion, as this is where most of the oil resides.
History of Onions:
Onions are native to Asia and the Middle East and have been cultivated for over five thousand years. Onions were highly regarded by the Egyptians as currency and also placed in tombs of kings. Onions were an indispensable vegetable in the cuisines of many European countries during the Middle Ages. It was Christopher Columbus who brought onions to the West Indies; their cultivation spread from there throughout the Western Hemisphere.
14 HEALTH SECRETS OF ONION TO CRY FOR:
- Lowers Blood Sugar Levels: The water-soluble vitamin B3 in onions is essential for maintaining the stability of blood sugar levels, the genetic balance in the cell and absorbing excess fats.
- Prevents Osteoporosis: Onions contain calcium that prevents the activities of breaking down bone tissues and especially beneficial for women who are at risk for osteoporosis as they go through menopause.
- Anti Bacterial: Onions has insecticides, parasitisida, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties that protect against bacteria, including E.coli and salmonella, and effective against tuberculosis and infections of the urinary tract, such as cystitis.
- Detox: Amino acids -methionine and cystine, along with Vitamin C, detoxify your body from heavy metals, by latching on to mercury, arsenic, cadmium and lead, and expel them out of the body.
- Anti Cancer: Onions are rich in organosulfur compounds shown to help prevent breast, colon, and esophageal cancer. Fructo-oligosaccharides in onions stimulate the growth of good bacteria in the colon and help reduce the risk of tumors developing in the colon.
- Cardio Care: Vitamin B3, a potent antioxidant flavonoid – quercitin, and organosulfur compounds in onions, significantly help to correct thrombosis, thin the blood, retard blood clotting, increase HDL (good cholesterol) levels while decreasing the bad cholesterol (LDL), prevents atherosclerosis, the hardening and thickening of the arteries due to plaque, and prevent heart attacks.
- Improves Immunity: Along with flavonoids, onions have some superior micro minerals, such as selenium and fluorine that have antibiotic and antioxidant properties to boost immunity. The pungency of onions increases blood circulation, causes sweating, and wards off infections from colds and flu.
- Keeps Anemia at Bay: The high content of iron in onion makes it beneficial for the treatment of anemia.
- Anti-inflammatory: The anti-inflammatory agents in onion are useful in reducing the symptoms of inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and gout.
- Prevents Constipation: Add plenty onion in your cooking to help relieve chronic constipation and flatulence.
- Diabetes: Chromium in onion helps diabetics’ cells respond appropriately to bringing down the insulin level and improve glucose tolerance.
- Diuretic: Onions help increase urine production, flush out toxins and counter fluid retention, urinary gravel, arthritis and gout.
- Respiratory Soother: A concoction of onion juice and honey helps fight common cold, liquefy mucus and prevents its further formation, and treat asthmaby inhibiting the production of compounds that cause the bronchial muscle to spasm and to relax bronchial muscle.
- Aphrodisiac: The white variety of onion is a potent aphrodisiac and stands second only to garlic.
Side Effects and Precautions:
- If you have an allergy to onions, you might experience a red, itchy rash when an onion comes into contact with your skin as well as reddened, itchy eyes.
- No serious allergic reactions associated with onions have been reported, but if after eating onions you experience a sudden generalized reddening of the skin, oral swelling and tingling, difficulty breathing, or a drop in blood pressure, it could be signs of an anaphylactic reaction, and you should seek emergency medical treatment immediately.