Energetics of Onions: Don’t Cry for Me

Fun fact, ancient Egyptians had such a high regard for onions that they actually used them as currency for the workers who built the great pyramids! Not only that, but they were also thought to have high spiritual significance and as such were placed in the tombs of the pharaohs.  Nothing like a nice snack to accompany you to the afterlife.  Nowadays onions have become a staple in almost every region in the world.

 

 

Varieties

Onions are actually native to Asia and the Middle East, having been cultivated for over 5,000 years.  They vary in size, color, and taste depending upon their variety.

Spanish Onions

Spanish Onions

Storage Onions

Storage Onions are a variety of onion that, as you can guess, store for a long time.  They are grown in colder climates because they are dried for a period of several months after harvesting. They tend to have a more pungent flavor than Spring/Summer Onions, and they are named after their color.  Spanish onions also fall into this category.

Yellow Storage Onions are very flavorful and the most commonly used variety. They also contain the highest concentration of antioxidants called quercetin.

Spanish Onions are large yellow onions with a mild flavor.

Red or Bermuda Onions are the hottest and sweetest of the Storage Onions. They are high in quercetin and anthocyanins.

Pearl Onions

Pearl Onions

White Onions are not very sweet and have a mild taste.

Pearl or Boiling Onions are a smaller version of Storage Onions.

Spring/Summer Onions

These juicy onions are grown in warm climates and since they remain in soil longer than Storage Onions, much of their carbohydrates turn to sugar giving them their characteristically sweet taste. The extended time in the ground results in the reduction of their nutritional value and loss of sulfur-containing compounds.  The loss of these compounds is the reason these onions do not bring tears to your eyes.  Varieties of Spring/Summer include Walla Walla, Vidalia, and Maui Sweet Onions.  These are best eaten raw and should not be kept longer than a week.

Summer/Spring Onions

Summer/Spring Onions

Other Varieties

Scallions and Green Onions are bright in color with long, narrow hollow leaves and a small pear-shaped white bulb.

While Storage Onions are available throughout the year, Spring/Sumer Onions are available only a few months of the year.

Maui Onions- April through June

Vidalia Onions- May and June

Walla Walla- July and August

 Best Way To Choose and Store

Red Onions

Red Onions

Always look for ones that are clean and well-shaped, have no opening at the neck, and feature crisp, dry outer skins. Avoid selecting onions that are sprouting or have signs of mold.  Spots, moisture at their neck and dark patches may be indications of decay ad reflect inferior quality.

Onions actually last a while if you store them correctly.  The length of time you can store it depends on the variety of onion you bought. Varieties that are more pungent in flavor, such as Yellow Onions, can be stored longer than those with a sweeter taste, such as White Onions.

The best way to store uncut Storage or Spring/Summer Onions is in a cool, dark place, away from heat and bright light.  Make sure that they are well ventilated and do not put them in a storage bag. You can put them in a wire hanging basket or a perforate bowl with a raised base so air can circulate. Do not place uncut onions in the fridge, as this will cause it to spoil quickly. Do not store onions with potatoes.

The best way to store portions of onions not used should be placed in a sealed container to limit its exposure to airflow and store in the crisper in your fridge. Use any cut onions within a day or two, as onions will oxidize and lose its nutrients quickly.

Prevent Onions from Irritating Your Eyes

imgresThere are actually a few methods to help prevent onions irritating your eyes while cutting them.  The irritating factor comes from allyl sulfate, which while annoying to the eyes, it is where their significant nutritional value comes from.  One way to do this is to chill the onion for at least an hour before cutting.  Another method is to cut the onion while running it under running water. The problem with this method is the water can dilute the amount of allyl sulfate. There are some people that say putting a slice of bread or metal spoon in your mouth while cutting onions can help neutralize the irritating compounds. If none if these work, may I suggest using goggles.

 Nutrition

Onions help promote blood sugar balance, experimental and clinical evidence shows that there is a link between allyl propyl disulfate and an increased amount of free insulin available to usher glucose where it needs to go.  Also, onions are a great source of chromium, a mineral component in glucose tolerance factors, which helps cells responds appropriately to insulin.

Regular consumption of onions have shown to lower high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, both actions that can help prevent atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease, and reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke.  Onion’s heart benefits are likely due to its sulfur compounds, chromium, folate, and vitamin B6 content. Folate and vitamin B6 also help prevent heart disease by lowering high homocysteine levels.

Onions contain many anti-inflammatory agents, these agents are helpful in reducing the severity of symptoms associated with inflammatory conditions.  They have this power because they contain compounds that inhibit lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase, the enzymes that generate inflammatory prostaglandins and thromboxanes. These effects are due to vitamin C, quercetin, and isothiocyanates found in onions. Quercetin and other flavonoids also work with vitamin C to kill harmful bacteria, making onions great for soups and stews during cold and flu season.

Energetics

imgresOnions are pungent and influence the lungs, promote warmth, move energy around the body, resolve blood stagnancies, reduce clotting, and expel coldness.  They are rich in sulfur, a warming element that purifies the body, helps remove heavy metals and parasites, and facilitates protein/amino acid metabolism. Onions also clean the arteries and retard the growth of viruses, yeast, ferments, and other pathogenic organisms. Onions lower blood pressure and cholesterol, decreases catarrh (phlegm and inflammation of the nose and throat), treats dysentery, inhibits allergic reactions, induces sweating, and can help cure the common cold.

Traditional cough remedy: Simmer onions in water until soft with a little added honey.  Also one should eat an onion every 4 hours.

Caution: While onions have many medicinal values, they are not recommended for those seeking mental and spiritual refinement as onions foster excessive emotional desire.

Onions are a concentrated source of manganese, copper, phosphorus, and tryptophan.

7-Minute Healthy Sautéed Onions

dsc01880Traditional caramelized onion sautéing destroys many health benefits. Low heat sautéing brings out onion’s sweet flavor and preserves the most nutrients.

Prep and Cook Time: 15 minutes
Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 TBS + 2 TBS chicken or vegetable broth
  • 3 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

  1. Slice onions and let sit for 5 minutes to enhance health-promoting benefits.
  2. Heat 2 TBS broth over medium heat in a stainless steel skillet.
  3. When broth begins to steam, add onions and cover for 3 minutes. The onions will ‘sweat’.  Add another 2 TBS broth and stir uncovered for 4 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat when onions become translucent, about 7 minutes. Increase cooking time for more tenderness.
  5. Transfer to a bowl. For the best flavor toss onions with olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste while still hot.

Serves 2: Calories 206 (100g) Recipe Courtesy of WHFoods.com