Food Guts - Ingredient Information

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Nutritional Information

1 cup chopped, onions

  • Calories 67
  • Calories from Fat 1.17
  • Amount%DV
  • Total Fat 0.13g0%
  • Saturated Fat 0.042g0%
  • Monounsaturated Fat 0.037g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat 0.099g
  • Cholestreol 0mg0%
  • Sodium 5mg0%
  • Potassium 230mg7%
  • Total Carbohydrate 16.18g5%
  • Dietary Fiber 2.2g9%
  • Sugars 6.85g
  • Protein 1.47g3%
  • Calcium 4mg0%
  • Iron 2mg11%
  • Vitamin A 0%
  • Vitamin C 17%

When In Season:

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Onions on Wikipedia:

``Onions`` redirects here. For the surname, see Onions (surname). For other uses, see Onion (disambiguation). Onion Onions Scientific classification Domain: Eukarya Kingdom: Plantae Division: Angiosperms Class: Monocots Order: Asparagales Family: Alliaceae Genus: Allium Species: A. cepa Binomial name Allium cepa L. Allium cepa var. proliferum, Top Onion

Onion is a term used for many plants in the genus Allium. They are known by the common name ``onion`` but, used without qualifiers, it usually refers to Allium cepa.[1] Allium cepa is also known as the ``garden onion`` or ``bulb`` onion. It is grown underground by the plant as a vertical shoot that is used for food storage, leading to the possibility of confusion with a tuber, which it is not.

Allium cepa is known only in cultivation,[2] but related wild species occur in Central Asia. The most closely related species include Allium vavilovii (Popov & Vved.) and Allium asarense (R.M. Fritsch & Matin) from Iran.[3] However Zohary and Hopf warn that ``there are doubts whether the vavilovii collections tested represent genuine wild material or only feral derivatives of the crop.``[4]



Onions, one of the oldest vegetables, are found in a large number of recipes and preparations spanning almost the totality of the world's cultures. They are now available in fresh, frozen, canned, caramelized, pickled, powdered, chopped, and dehydrated forms. Onions can be used, usually chopped or sliced, in almost every type of food, including cooked foods and fresh salads and as a spicy garnish. They are rarely eaten on their own, but usually act as accompaniment to the main course. Depending on the variety, an onion can be sharp, spicy, tangy and pungent or mild and sweet.

Onions pickled in vinegar are eaten as a snack. These are often served as a side serving in fish and chip shops throughout the United Kingdom and Australia, and are referred to simply as ``pickled onions``. Onions are widely used in India and Pakistan, and are fundamental in the local cuisine. They are commonly used as a base for curries or made into a paste and eaten as a main course or as a side dish.

Tissue from onions is frequently used in science education to demonstrate microscope usage, because they have particularly large cells that are readily observed even at low magnifications.[5]

Onion powder

Onion powder is a spice used for seasoning in cooking. It is made from finely ground dehydrated onions, mainly the pungent varieties of bulb onions, which causes the powder to have a very strong smell.

Onion powder comes in a few varieties:

White onion powder Red onion powder Yellow onion powder Toasted onion powder Wikibooks Cookbook has a recipe/module on Onion powder

Onion powder is toxic to dogs.[6]

Historical uses

It is thought that bulbs from the onion family have been used as a food source for millennia. In Bronze Age settlements, traces of onion remains were found alongside fig and date stones dating back to 5000 BC.[7]

However, it is not clear if these were cultivated onions. Archaeological and literary evidence such as the Book of Numbers 11:5 suggests cultivation probably took place around two thousand years later in ancient Egypt, at the same time that leeks and garlic were cultivated. Workers who built the Egyptian pyramids may have been fed radishes and onions.[7]

The onion is easily propagated, transported and stored. The Ancient Egyptians worshipped it,[8] believing that its spherical shape and concentric rings symbolized eternal life. Onions were even used in Egyptian burials, as evidenced by onion traces being found in the eye sockets of Ramesses IV.

In ancient Greece, athletes ate large quantities of onion because it was believed that it would lighten the balance of blood. Roman gladiators were rubbed down with onion to firm up their muscles. In the Middle Ages, onions were such an important food that people would pay their rent with onions, and even give them as gifts.[8] Doctors were known to prescribe onions to facilitate bowel movements and erection, and also to relieve headaches, coughs, snake bite and hair loss. The onion was introduced to North America by Christopher Columbus on his 1492 expedition to Hispaniola. Onions were also prescribed by doctors in the early 1500s to help with infertility in women, and even dogs and cattle and many other household pets. However, recent evidence has shown that dogs, cats, and other animals should not be given onions in any form, due to toxicity during digestion.[9]

Medicinal properties and health effects

Raw Onions Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz) Energy 166 kJ (40 kcal) Carbohydrates 9.34 g Sugars 4.24 g Dietary fiber 1.7 g Fat 0.1 g saturated 0.042 g monounsaturated 0.013 g polyunsaturated 0.017 g Protein 1.1 g Water 89.11 g Vitamin A equiv. 0 μg (0%) Thiamine (Vit. B1) 0.046 mg (4%) Riboflavin (Vit. B2) 0.027 mg (2%) Niacin (Vit. B3) 0.116 mg (1%) Vitamin B6 0.12 mg (9%) Folate (Vit. B9) 19 μg (5%) Vitamin B12 0 μg (0%) Vitamin C 7.4 mg (12%) Vitamin E 0.02 mg (0%) Vitamin K 0.4 μg (0%) Calcium 23 mg (2%) Iron 0.21 mg (2%) Magnesium 0.129 mg (0%) Phosphorus 29 mg (4%) Potassium 146 mg (3%) Sodium 4 mg (0%) Zinc 0.17 mg (2%) Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults. Source: USDA Nutrient database

Wide-ranging claims have been made for the effectiveness of onions against conditions ranging from the common cold to heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and other diseases.[10] They contain chemical compounds believed to have anti-inflammatory, anticholesterol, anticancer, and antioxidant properties such as quercetin. However, it has not been conclusively demonstrated that increased consumption of onions is directly linked to health benefits. Some studies have shown that increased consumption of onions reduces the risk of head and neck cancers.[11] In India some sects do not eat onion due to its alleged aphrodisiac properties.[12]

In many parts of the world, onions are used to heal blisters and boils. A traditional Maltese remedy for sea urchin wounds is to tie half a baked onion to the afflicted area overnight. An application of raw onion is also said to be helpful in reducing swelling from bee stings. In the United States, products that contain onion extract are used in the treatment of topical scars; some studies have found their action to be ineffective,[13][14][15] while others found that they may act as an anti-inflammatory or bacteriostatic[16] and can improve collagen organization in rabbits.[17]

Onions may be especially beneficial for women,[18] who are at increased risk for osteoporosis as they go through menopause, by destroying osteoclasts so that they do not break down bone.

An American chemist has stated[19] that the pleiomeric chemicals in onions have the potential to alleviate or prevent sore throat. However onion in combination with jaggery has been widely used as a traditional household remedy for sore throat in India.

Shallots have the most phenols, six times the amount found in Vidalia onion, the variety with the lowest phenolic content. Shallots also have the most antioxidant activity, followed by Western Yellow, pungent yellow (New York Bold[20]), Northern Red, Mexico, Empire Sweet, Western White, Peruvian Sweet, Texas 1015, Imperial Valley Sweet, and Vidalia. Western Yellow onions have the most flavonoids, eleven times the amount found in Western White, the variety with the lowest flavonoid content.

For all varieties of onions, the more phenols and flavonoids they contain, the more antioxidant and anti-cancer activity they provide. When tested against liver and colon cancer cells, Western Yellow, pungent yellow (New York Bold[20]) and shallots were most effective in inhibiting their growth. The milder-tasting varieties—Western White, Peruvian Sweet, Empire Sweet, Mexico, Texas 1015, Imperial Valley Sweet, and Vidalia—showed little cancer-fighting ability.[20]

Shallots and ten other onion (Allium cepa L.) varieties commonly available in the United States were evaluated: Western Yellow, Northern Red, pungent yellow (New York Bold), Western White, Peruvian Sweet, Empire Sweet, Mexico, Texas 1015, Imperial Valley Sweet, and Vidalia. In general, the most pungent onions delivered many times the benefits of their milder cousins.[20]

Eye irritation

As onions are sliced or eaten, cells are broken, allowing enzymes called alliinases to break down amino acid sulphoxides and generate sulphenic acids. A specific sulfenic acid, 1-propenesulfenic acid, formed when onions are cut, is rapidly rearranged by a second enzyme, called the lachrymatory factor synthase or LFS, giving syn-propanethial-S-oxide, a volatile gas known as the onion lachrymatory factor or LF.[21] The LF gas diffuses through the air and eventually reaches the eye, where it activates sensory neurons, creating a stinging sensation. Tear glands produce tears to dilute and flush out the irritant.[22] Chemicals that exhibit such an effect on the eyes are known as lachrymatory agents.

Supplying ample water to the reaction while peeling onions prevents the gas from reaching the eyes. Eye irritation can, therefore, be avoided by cutting onions under running water or submerged in a basin of water.[22] Rinsing the onion and leaving it wet while chopping may also be effective. Another way to reduce irritation is by chilling, or by not cutting off the root of the onion (or by doing it last), as the root of the onion has a higher concentration of enzymes.[23] Using a sharp blade to chop onions will limit the cell damage and the release of enzymes that drive the irritation response. Chilling or freezing onions prevents the enzymes from activating, limiting the amount of gas generated. Eye irritation may be avoided by having a fan blow the gas away from the eyes as the onion is being cut.

It is also possible to avoid eye irritation by wearing goggles or any eye protection that creates a seal around the eye. Contact lens wearers can experience less immediate irritation as a result of the slight protection afforded by the lenses themselves. It may also be that lens wearers are familiar with controlling the more reflexive actions of their eyes with regards to irritation; as this is an ability they require when manipulating the lenses to prevent blinking.

The amount of sulfenic acids and LF released, and the irritation effect, differs among Allium species. On January 31, 2008, the New Zealand Crop and Food institute created a strain of ``no tears`` onions by using gene-silencing biotechnology to prevent synthesis by the onions of the lachyrmatory factor synthase enzyme.[24]


Onion and shallot output in 2005 Onion growing shoots

Onions may be grown from seed or, more commonly today, from sets started from seed the previous year. Onion sets are produced by sowing seed very thickly one year, resulting in stunted plants that produce very small bulbs. These bulbs are very easy to set out and grow into mature bulbs the following year, but they have the reputation of producing a less durable bulb than onions grown directly from seed and thinned.

Seed-bearing onions are day-length sensitive; their bulbs begin growing only after the number of daylight hours has surpassed some minimal quantity. Most traditional European onions are what is referred to as ``long-day`` onions, producing bulbs only after 15+ hours of daylight occur. Southern European and North African varieties are often known as ``intermediate day`` types, requiring only 12–13 hours of daylight to stimulate bulb formation. Finally, ``short-day`` onions, which have been developed in more recent times, are planted in mild-winter areas in the fall and form bulbs in the early spring, and require only 9–10 hours of sunlight to stimulate bulb formation.

Either planting method may be used to produce spring onions or green onions, which are the leaves or immature plants. Green onion is a name also used to refer to another species, Allium fistulosum, the Welsh onion, which is said not to produce dry bulbs.

The tree onion produces bulbs instead of flowers and seeds, which can be planted directly in the ground.


Brown and white onions

Yellow onions

Flower head of a yellow onion

Red onions

Bulb onion – Grown from seed (or onion sets), bulb onions range from the pungent varieties used for dried soups and onion powder to the mild and hearty sweet onions, such as the Vidalia from Georgia or Walla Walla from Washington that can be sliced and eaten on a sandwich instead of meat. Multiplier onions – May refer to perennial green onions, or to onions raised from bulbs that produce multiple shoots, each of which forms a bulb. The second type is often referred to as a potato onion. Tree onion or Egyptian onion - Produce bulblets in the flower head; a hybrid of Allium cepas. Welsh onion – Sometimes referred to as green onion or spring onion, although these onions may refer to any green onion stalk. Leek Cooking onion - more definition needed. Yellow onion - generally tapered ends, brown skin over the onion, usually sold in 3 lb bags of yellow webbed plastic. Sweet onion - flatter ends and sold individually. Spanish and Vidalia

Production trends

Onion field during harvest, Vale, Oregon (USA). Top Ten Onion Producers — 2005 (1000 tonnes)  India 9,793