Healthy Living: Lots of onions for good health

Whenever am cooking, am usually very extravagant when it comes to using onions. I can use upto five onions in one pot – but then who would not when cooking for a dozen people? I started cooking a long time ago when I was only five years old and in boarding school in the western part of Kenya.

Whenever am cooking, am usually very extravagant when it comes to using onions. I can use upto five onions in one pot – but then who would not when cooking for a dozen people? I started cooking a long time ago when I was only five years old and in boarding school in the western part of Kenya.

I remember with fondness my school teacher who was an old kind woman in her sixties trying to teach us how to cook ugali and greens. The holidays that followed I went home knowing the basics of cooking, and my family was amazed.

Even though my mother was scared that her little girl would get burnt, she let me explore the goodness of the kitchen and I learnt how to cook very fast. By the time I was in secondary school I could cook food for over five hundred people.

I remember being contacted to cook at special functions, where at the end of the day I would get a good sum of money which I used to buy a few things that my siblings and I needed.

The extra cash went into buying pots and cutleries which I still own to date and use in functions. While exploring cooking, the one thing that fascinated me the most was the onion.

In fact I realised that onions bring out the best in any food for as long as they are used in plenty. While many women like using a lot of tomatoes in the foods, on the other hand I prefer using lots of onions.

Onions have been used as ingredients in various dishes for over a thousand years by people of different cultures around the world. In fact onions are now a much sought after horticultural crop after tomatoes.

They come in different varieties and colours, red, yellow, white and green.Onions can also be eaten raw, cooked, fried, dried or roasted. They can be used in salads, soups, spread and other stir-fry dishes.

Apart from the rich taste that onion brings out in foods, they are also rich in content of thiosulfinates, sulfides, sulfoxides, and other odoriferous sulfur compounds.

The cysteine sulfoxides are primarily responsible for the onion flavour and produce the eye-irritating compounds that induce lacrimation. The thiosulfinates exhibit antimicrobial properties. Onion is also effective against many bacteria including Bacillus subtilis, Salmonella, and E. coli.

According to internet sources, onions have a variety of medicinal effects. Early American settlers used wild onions to treat colds, coughs, and asthma, and to repel insects.

In Chinese medicine, onions have been used to treat angina, coughs, bacterial infections, and breathing problems. I know how useful onion is when it comes to decreasing allergy induced bronchial constriction because I am Asthmatic.

Onions are also used in treating cases of anaemia; they also reduce symptoms of inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and gout. Eating raw onions can help lower one’s cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Onions also have 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 tumours developing in the colon. Onion soup is also the best when it comes to treating common cold. The list is endless when talking about onions.

If you didn’t know, then know now that every time you use two onions when cooking, don’t call it a waste but rather another teaspoonful of medicine.

kayitesius@yahoo.com