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The Most Unexpected Use for Your Everyday Onion

Hint: It has nothing to do with cooking.

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Air purifiers are trending as the rise in airborne pollutants, such as bacteria, pollen, mold spores, viruses, and smoke waft around us inside and out. Since the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that most people spend 90% of their time indoors, it’s no surprise that people are looking for a way to keep the inside air as clean as possible. There are many machines that filter the air but many homeopaths and advocates of natural medicine say there’s another answer: onions.

Onions, the allium we associate with making soups and frying into rings, are said to have magical properties when it comes to keeping our air clean. According to an article in "Chambers' Journal" in 1900, there’s an old custom where a plate of sliced onions is placed next to a dying (or deceased) person. As the onions sat, they attracted “the floating germs...and settled on thickly, the result being the onion's discoloration and the great purification of the air.” The "Los Angeles Times" printed something similar in 1913 saying, “In a sickroom you cannot have a better disinfectant than the onion. It has a wonderful capacity for absorbing germs. A dish of sliced onions placed in a sickroom will draw away the disease; they must be removed as soon as they lose their odor and become discolored, and be replaced by fresh ones.”

Do Onions Work as Air Purifiers?

But does this actually work? Should we be slicing onions and scattering them all over our house instead of buying expensive air purifiers? Not so fast.

There are no scientific studies that prove this old wives’ tale actually works.

In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Ruth McDonald, Ph.D., R.D., Chair and Professor of the Department of Food Science & Human Nutrition at Iowa State University says, “No, onions do not absorb bacteria. The idea that a vegetable would attract and suck into itself bacteria from the air is not even logical. The onion may turn black because it would eventually rot from both cell breakdown events and bacterial contamination if you left it out, not because it absorbs germs.”

Actual Benefits of Onions

Now this doesn’t mean that onions don’t have a host of other benefits. Onions are full of antioxidants and flavonoids that may reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer, as well as boost digestive health and fight bacteria. There are even some who say drinking onion tea can help with a cough. We’re going to stick with eating onions, like in our favorite onion recipes, but don’t let us yuck your yum. If putting out sliced onions around your house is something you like to do, then keep on slicing.

But do they clean your air? They certainly give off an odor, which may or may not repel people and dogs, but unfortunately, not air toxins.

Read the original article on All Recipes.