Attainable Health

Finding a healthy lifestyle in today's hectic world

Onions – Helpful and Deadly…. March 9, 2010

Onions—some people love them, others hate them.  They can make you cry, or make you smell bad.  They can make tasty snacks like onion rings and salsa.  They can cure ailments and also can kill you……wait what?!

My quest for onion knowledge all started when my dad sent me an e-mail.  He’s notorious for filling my inbox with e-mail forwards a la the late ninties and sometimes they are interesting, and sometimes not.  This one in particular, however, caught my eye (although it also could have been the great big bold red letters my dad used to write “MUST READ” that got my attention, I’m just not sure).

The e-mail started with a story about farmers placing onions around their houses to prevent the flu in the early 1900’s.  It went on in typical fashion with other stories supporting this idea and ended that section with a plea for everyone to try this for themselves to prevent getting sick.  It seemed too good to be true, so I decided to do some research.  Here’s what I found:

  • An onion is 89% percent water—that’s only 3 % less than a watermelon!
  • The onion is a well-documented homeopathic remedy for many reasons, including: colds & flus, insomnia, coughs, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, as an anti-inflammatory, as an antiseptic, asthma, oral health, acne, libido, as an insect repellent, earaches, cancer prevention, as a diuretic, and more!

Who knew the onion could possibly do all these wonderful things?!  Certainly not me!  So, I kept reading the e-mail….and that’s when I saw the “Onions are deadly” headline.

Besides being poisonous to dogs (they can’t digest it and it causes a breakdown of red blood cells), onions can also be a big culprit of food poisoning in humans.  Due to the onions’ antiseptic and antibacterial properties, it actually sucks the bacteria out of the air around it (which is how it can help prevent colds & flus).  When the raw onion is left in the fridge (even in a plastic bag or container), in containers at the sub shop or buffet line, in pasta salads at a picnic….they are magnets for any bacteria in the air around them.  That can be really scary, just think: that chicken you are marinating for dinner can send off salmonella to that leftover onion you were planning on using for the salad!

Now, I know that I’ve saved onions to use the rest at a later date while being a frugal college student….and I’m still alive today.  But that’s not to say that some nights of upset stomach feelings weren’t caused by onions.  Onions aid digestion, so I had never thought of it before.  Its one of those things that you can choose to gamble on.

This new information has definitely motivated me to be a little more cautious about onions.  Just by cooking them a little it can kill the bacteria.  I’ve started buying smaller onions so I can use the whole thing and not waste money.  But, when I got a sub the other day, I got onions out of pure habit….some days are just a little more adventurous than others!

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