Why does the onion smell so strong?

Onions are probably the only vegetable that makes you take note of its strong, pungent smell and can make you shed tears (other than their skyrocketing prices).

While onions have over 85% water, tiny amounts of protein, fat and fibre, another significant contribution comes from carbohydrates that account for around 8-10%.

Onions are also rich in several minerals and vitamins, especially when it comes to antioxidant properties that help with skin and hair. You might have seen a sudden surge in the sale of onion-based shampoos and oils around. Other than Vitamin C, you would also find Vitamin B6, Potassium and Folate which together have multiple health benefits.

But what is the element for the pungent smell? It is all because of sulfur which helps the plants in protecting themselves from animals wishing to eat them.

The sulfur component present in onion is known as propyl sulfoxide. When cut, an onion’s cells release a gas called lachrymatory factor (LF). As you cut the onion into pieces, it comes in contact with air, irritating your eyes. However, similar to heeng, when the food is cooked with the onion, the flavour and smell become enjoyable.

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