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Onions with side effects

Onions are widely used both as a vegetable and for flavouring. The spicy aroma comes from a combination of several organic sulphur compounds. Mustard oils stimulate the flow of saliva, stomach secretions and intestinal movements. They also have a beneficial effect on your liver, gall bladder and spleen and they are thought to inhibit the growth of damaging microorganisms and viruses.

Why does chopping onions make you cry?

These beneficial substances are also responsible for the tears you shed while you’re chopping onions. When the cells of the onion are damaged the enzyme alliinase is released. It transforms the aromaless precursor alliin into the pungent smelling alliicin, which attacks the mucous membranes and sets you weeping. Can you avoid it? Not really, using a very sharp knife will injure fewer cells and so release less alliicin. Some people say it helps to dip your knife, chopping board and the onions briefly in cold water before you start. Other people suggest peeling and cutting onions under water, but that’s easier said than done.

Minimize unattractive body smells

If you eat a lot of raw onions, you tend to smell oniony. This is because your body excretes the strong smelling sulphur compounds via your skin and your lungs. You can reduce this effect by drinking a glass of milk or eating a handful of fresh parsley. The mustard oils can cause flatulence and this can be reduced by also eating spices like caraway, and oregano. Milder flavoured types of onion are generally easier on your digestion. If you’re planning to slice red onion into a salad, don’t do the slicing too far in advance.

Source: Heike Kreutz, www.aid.de