Thursday, 30 July 2009


English Name: Onion

Common Indian Name (Hindi): Pyaaz

  • Onions (Allium cepa) belong to the lily family, the same family as garlic, leeks, chives, scallions and shallots. There are over 600 species of Allium, distributed all over Europe, North America, Northern Africa and Asia. The plants can be used as ornamentals, vegetables, spices, or as medicine.
  • The word onion comes from the Latin word unio for "single," or "one," because the onion plant produces a single bulb, unlike its ucousin, 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.
  • Onions are very rich in chromium, a trace mineral that helps cells respond to insulin, plus vitamin C, and numerous flavonoids, most notably, quercitin.
  • Onions are characterized by their rich content of thiosulfinates, sulfides, sulfoxides, and other odoriferous sulfur compounds. The Cysteine sulfoxides are primarily responsible for the onion flavor and produce the eye-irritating compounds that induce lacrimation. The thiosulfinates exhibit antimicrobial properties. Onion is not as potent as garlic since the sulfur compounds in onion are only about one-quarter the level found in garlic.
  • Onion is effective against many bacteria including Bacillus subtilis, Salmonella, and E. coli.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) supports the use of onions for the treatment of poor appetite and to prevent atherosclerosis. In addition, onion extracts are recognized by WHO for providing relief in the treatment of coughs and colds, asthma and bronchitis. Onions are known to decrease bronchial spasms. An onion extract was found to decrease allergy-induced bronchial constriction in asthma patients.
  • Onions are a very rich source of fructo-oligosaccharides. These oligomers stimulate the growth of healthy bifidobacteria and suppress the growth of potentially harmful bacteria in the colon. In addition, they can reduce the risk of tumors developing in the colon.
  • Several anti-inflammatory agents in onions render them helpful in reducing the severity of symptoms associated with inflammatory conditions such as the pain and swelling of osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis, the allergic inflammatory response of asthma, and the respiratory congestion associated with the common cold.
  • Onion is called "Pyaaz" in Urdu and in Hindi, "Erulli/Ulla gaddi" in Kannada "ulli paya" or "Erra gadda" in Telugu "Sawala" or "Ulli" in Malyalam , "Kanda" in Marathi and "vengayam" in Tamil.

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