Colin C. Eady of New Zealand Agriseeds Ltd. and colleagues note the onion has a unique chemistry that leads to its tear-inducing effects when cut. Its pungency has driven cooks to don goggles, clench wooden spoons in their mouths and try other, usually futile, techniques to prevent crying at the cutting board, Eady said.
But a new type of onion makes less of the protein blamed for making eyes burn and tear up. Eady's team developed the version, which instead makes a sulfur compound similar to one found in cut garlic that might be the key to its cardiovascular benefits, the researchers said.
Many people eat garlic cloves or take it as a nutritional supplement in pill form to reduce the clumping of platelets in the blood, which can lead to blood clots and clogged arteries, Eady said. In addition, garlic has shown to reduce weight gain.
The study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, found in laboratory tests, extract from the tearless onion significantly reduced platelet clumping, compared with regular onions or even garlic. Other results showed he new onion has about the same anti-inflammatory properties as the original.
Eady and colleagues said preliminary testing in rats also showed the tearless onion could help control weight gain -- more so than regular onions or garlic.
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