Garlic vs. Onion

Garlic vs. Onion

Garlic and onion are bulbous vegetables that belong to the Allium family. They originate from Asia, but they can be found around the world today. Garlic grows in areas with cold and temperate climate, on dry, loose, well-drained soil. Onion prefers temperate climate, and thrives on fertile, sandy or loamy, well-drained soil. Onion and garlic are part of human diet at least 7000 years. They have sharp taste and recognizable odor due to high content of sulfur compounds. Garlic and onion are close relatives, but they can be easily distinguished via:

Morphology of Bulbs

Garlic bulb is much smaller compared with onion bulb. It is white colored and made of tightly packed fleshy cloves, enveloped in a papery skin. Onion has swollen, roundish bulb, composed of layers of fleshy, modified leaves. It can be purple, yellow or white-colored, depending on the variety. While mature bulbs of onion and garlic have little in common, young garlic and onion share many similarities. They both have white section with small roots and long green leaves. Green garlic can be recognized by purple spots on the white section and flat instead of tube-shaped leaves (that are typical for onion). It also emits characteristic pungent odor.

Nutritional Value

Garlic is excellent source of vitamins of the B group and vitamin C and minerals such as calcium, iron and zinc. Onion is good source of vitamins C and B6 and minerals such as manganese and phosphorus.


Onion can be consumed fresh, as ingredient of various salads, or fried and mixed with other vegetables. It is often used for the preparation of soups and various dips. Garlic is rarely consumed raw. It is usually cooked before consumption because high temperatures reduce sharpness and increase sweetness of garlic. Garlic is often mixed with eggs, cheese, pasta and fish and used for the preparation of various savory dishes.

Medical Properties

Garlic has antibacterial (kills bacteria) and antifungal (kill fungi) properties. It keeps arterial walls flexible and reduces blood pressure. Garlic also boosts immune system and prevents development of certain types of cancer (such as gastric and colorectal). Onion is effective in treatment of bronchitis and common cold. It prevents formation of blood clots and reduces the risk of heart attack. Onion can be also used in treatment of bacterial infections and to slow down multiplication of cancer cells in lungs, breasts and colon.

Other Applications

Onion skin is source of yellow-brown pigment. Juice extracted from the onion bulb can be used as moth repellent and to prevent insect bites (when applied on the skin). Garlic is used for preservation of fish and meat. Sticky juice obtained from garlic can be used as glue for porcelain and glass.

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