Tweak a Week #5 - Onions & Garlic
Onions and garlic contain organosulfur compounds and the enzyme allinase which is released when they are cut, chopped, crushed, or chewed and is responsible for making the sulfuric acid smell that makes you cry. When these chemical reactions occur the immune-building sulfide compounds are forming. “These compounds prevent the development of cancers by detoxifying carcinogens, and they also have angiogenesis-inhibiting effects that halt cancer cells growth by preventing tumors from obtaining a blood supply”*
These organosulfur compounds are proven to have anti-inflammatory actions that protect against osteoarthritis and ward off infections. Onions and garlic work with other nutrients to prevent disease and improve the immune system, plus, they add so much natural flavor so there is less need for excess salt and other unhealthy additives.
These vegetables have also been proven to help lower blood pressure, prevent clot formation, and decrease blood lipid levels, and reduce mortality from coronary heart disease. There are studies that show these vegetables also help build strong bones.
They are also a great source of quercetin, super powerful flavonoids that have anti-allergic properties and are used for treating asthma and other allergies.
Vitamins & minerals in Onions - Vitamin C, B6, B1, K, biotin, chromium, dietary fiber, and folic acid
Vitamins & minerals in Garlic – Vitamin B6, C, manganese, selenium, phosphorous, calcium, potassium, iron, and copper
Preparation – Garlic must be crushed or chopped to release its full nutritional benefits. There is an important reaction between the amino acid, allin and an enzyme in garlic called allinase. They live in different parts of the garlic and only come together when the garlic is crushed or chopped and form allicin, the most important medicinal compound unique to garlic and responsible for its health benefits. It is best to chop or crush the fresh garlic and let it sit for several minutes before being used. It is also best to put it into the dish late in the cooking process.
Onions and garlic should be stored in a well ventilated and dimly lit area at room temperature. Place them in a hanging wire basket or colander so that air can circulate beneath them. Onions should be stored away from potatoes because they will absorb their moisture and ethylene gas causing them to spoil more quickly.
The remainder of a cut onion should be wrapped tightly or stored in an air-tight container because they oxidize quickly, usually only good for 1-2 more days. If onions just make you too emotional (i.e. give you a good cry!) you can chill the onion for about an hour before cutting it, this will reduce the activity of the enzyme that produces the tear inducing allyl sulfate.