When preparing meals, who doesn’t dread chopping onions? There’s the smell they leave on your hands, the tears, and the prickling sensation in the mucous membranes … especially the eyes. But like their cousin garlic, onions have positive virtues that outweigh these minor disadvantages.
Firstly, onions have many nutritional benefits. Rich in vitamin C, minerals and trace elements, they are also low in calories. This vegetable has genuine medicinal properties, too. In particular, onions act as a diuretic, because they contain specific carbohydrates known as fructosans.
Onions also have a hypoglycaemic effect, countering excessively high sugar levels in the blood. Onions help ease certain conditions of the respiratory tract and have a disinfectant effect on the digestive system. When crushed and applied externally, onions are even effective in soothing insect bites.
There are many old-fashioned remedies to deal with the runny eyes that onions cause: holding a match between the teeth, chewing on gum, sticking a piece of bread on the end of a knife. But the most effective method would seem to be wearing diving goggles or ski goggles. The goggles protect eyes from the tiny irritant droplets released when peeling and chopping onions.