7 Things You Did Not Know about Onion and Garlic

Beyond the smell

By on December 21st, 2007 11:00 GMT
1.Onion has been cultivated for at least 7,000 years. The species may have originated in Central Asia or Iran, and was first cultivated in the Middle East. Garlic may have originated in southwestern Asia and was cultivated 5,000 years ago in the Middle East.

2.To impede the stored onion and garlic to sprout, you have to burn the small roots of the bulb on a flame and keep them in aerated places.

3.Onions have more sugar than apples! That's why sauces with onion are sweet. But the active chemicals that give the onion scent hide their sweetness. Onions are also rich in vitamins B6, B1 and B9.

4.Onions make you cry because when sliced, the cells release enzymes that break down sulfur compounds which generate sulfenic acids - unstable chemicals that turn into a volatile gas reaching the eyes through air. To decrease the likelihood of tears, onions can be chilled for 30 minutes prior to cutting in the refrigerator or in cold water. If the root end of the vegetable remains attached, this too reduces the level of tear-provoking gases.

Onions are used for long against common cold, heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis, improving also circulation and high blood pressure, and impeding blood clotting. In many areas, onions are used for curing blisters and boils. In Malta, wounds caused by sea urchin are treated by tying half of a baked onion to the damaged area overnight.

The heart protective effect of the onion is due to flavonoids, specifically quercetin, also encountered in tea, apples and red wine. Quercetin is broken down in the body, and the resulting chemicals impede chronic inflammation that causes the thickening of the arteries. Inflammatory processes are effectively stopped by the chemicals coming from 100-200g of ingested onions.

Recently, a Japanese team has found that onion boosts our memory! Subjects experiencing memory loss reported improved recall abilities, after ingesting lightly cooked pieces of onion. An anti-oxidant chemical in onions seems to attach to the toxins in the brain, helping in eliminating them. The sulfur containing chemical is turned on when onions are slightly heated in a pan, but overcooking can damage the chemical's memory-boosting qualities.

The same active chemical is also encountered in other relatives of the onion, like garlic and leek.

5.Garlic is rich in manganese, phosphorous, selenium, calcium, potassium, iron and copper, and also in vitamins B1, B6 and C. Garlic contains sugar too, and this is more evident in cooked garlic.

6.Garlic has the same heart protective effect, reducing blood pressure, thinning the blood, preventing clots, and lowering bad cholesterol. These garlic chemicals (polysulfides) make the blood vessels release hydrogen sulfide (H2S), which relaxes them and thereby lowers the blood pressure. Selenium and manganese are involved in heart protection.
The same anti-inflammatory effect like in onion makes garlic effective against cold, flu and asthma. Garlic and onion are bacteria slayers. They can even destroy the bacterium H.pylori in the stomach, involved in the development of stomach cancer. Researches made on garlic revealed a few servings weekly decrease the risk of colon cancer.
Researches found that garlic can even combat three diabetes complications: nephropathy, retinopathy and neuropathy. Allicin, a sulfur compound in garlic, even prevents weight gain.
You maybe won't dare to ingest garlic before a date, but ancient Greeks and the Egyptians regarded it as an aphrodisiac. And for good reason: improved blood circulation goes to that point. Some say garlic fights acnea and hair loss. Anyway, maybe you will be sexier, too!

7.You may not know, but besides the taste for blood, mosquitoes have another point in common with Dracula: they hate garlic. Eating a lot of garlic will keep mosquitoes away. On the windowsill, you can plant species like peppermint, garlic, or ginger. Insects won't dare enter your home.
  
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