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Pattaya Daily News

24 July 2010 :: 15:07:53 pm 32997

Enthralling History of the Garden Onion

The original name for the onion comes from the Latin word ‘unio which means oneness or unity. The French named it the oignon. The name as we know it was created by adding the shape of the onion to the beginning of ‘union’ giving it a new spelling of ounion. The letter ‘u’ was later omitted which gave it the modern name of ‘onion’.
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The whole family of the onion is supposed to have originated from Central Asia which consists of 325 species that include shallots, leeks, chives, garlic, red onions and green onions, often called scallions.

The humble bulb of the onion can be traced back to 3500 BC where it was considered sacred. It became a symbol of eternity and its’ circles was believed to denote immortality. The onion was used in tomb inscriptions and paintings and was also depicted in the drawings and was used to fill the eye sockets of King Ramses IV who departed this world in 1160 BCE.

The popularity of the onion spread across to Greece where it was believed to give strength and courage and so, was fed to the athletes and later to the Gladiators as part of their daily diet. As its popularity grew, its medicinal properties came to light and by the middle ages it was being prescribed by doctors for ailments such as colds, headaches and snakebites.

It is now widespread knowledge that the onion is full of antioxidants, low in cholesterol and a good source of sulphur compounds. Eaten in its raw state, it is good for constipation, controlling sugar levels and healing ulcers. The onion also contains a major source of vitamins, iron, potassium and folic acid, all important in the daily diet, along with anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties and may even block the formation of malignant cells. Researchers have claimed that red and yellow onions have a chemical called ‘quercetin’ which is an anti cancer agent which can be effective in breast cancer.

The onion first came to the attention of scientists in 1989 when a study was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute of findings that those who ate the largest amount of vegetables from the onion family were less likely to develop stomach cancer than those who did not.

The anti-oxidant, quercetin found in onions, help protect and regenerate Vitamin E, helping it to stop the circulation of the harmful effects of heavy metal ions. Onions may also prevent the bronchial problems that eventually lead to inflammatory reactions and asthma. The odor from the enzymes that are released when cut, are what induces tears.

Patty Brown

Photo : Internet   Category : Health

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