What Are The Health Benefits Of Onions: Top 14 Reasons

Well, we all love food. Food is not something that we eat only when we are hungry. It is a great vegetable that is delicious, colorful,  satisfying, and inspiring and attracts people.

Food can bring different people together and can even make a sad person feel better. But it is always beneficial to eat a proper diet that will help you in all ways.

A diet that is rich in vegetables and fruits will help in solving digestion problems, lower blood pressure, prevent cancer, reduce the risk of heart diseases and stroke, reduce blood sugar, and even keep our appetite in check.

Each vegetable has its own benefits, and let’s today explore the vegetable onion.

What Are Onions?

Onions are part of the botanical Lily (Liliaceae) family and belong to the Allium genus, which also includes garlic, leeks, and shallots. These vegetables are rich in numerous minerals, vitamins, and potent plant compounds that help promote our health in many ways.

The medicinal properties of onions were recognized from ancient times when they were used to treat heart diseases, headaches, and mouth sores.

Onions come in various shapes, sizes, colors, and flavors. The most commonly found onions are red, white, and yellow. The taste of these varies from sweet to juicy, sharp, spicy, and pungent and depends on the season in which they are grown and how it is consumed.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Onions
Photo by Skyler Ewing / Pexels

This allium vegetable and its kind have been cultivated by farmers for centuries. China is believed to be the biggest producer of onions worldwide.

Onions are used in a wide variety of dishes and different forms. They are eaten raw, sautéed, boiled, steamed, or baked.

All of you are aware that chopping onions causes watery eyes. Well, even though onions make you cry, they have some impressive health benefits.

Nutritional Profile Of Onions

One medium onion or an 80g serving of raw onion contains:

  • 28k Calories
  • 6.4g Carbohydrate
  • 5.0g Sugars
  • 1.8g Fibre
  • 0.8g Protein
  • 2.0mg Vitamin C

So try to include a medium onion as one portion of your daily diet.

Different Types Of Onions

Onions are widely used in any culinary dish almost on any part of the earth. Let us see some of the commonly found onions:

1. Sweet Onions

It is a less opaque, light-skinned onion surrounded by a large and slightly fat body.

2. Yellow Onions

It has ivory white flesh surrounded by dark brown skin. Yellow onions are known for their strong sulfur aroma.

3. Red Onions

Red onion has a mild and sweet taste, making it more enjoyable to eat raw. The outer skin and flesh are a deep magenta color.

4. White Onions

Having papery white skin, these onions are milder and sweeter than their yellow brothers.

5. Shallots

It is the smaller variety of baby onions that are brown-skinned with purple flesh.

6. Green Onions

Just like the name suggests, they are the immature green variety that has still not taken the form of a bulb.

7. Leeks

This variety is usually used in soups and sauces with a long neck and small bulb.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Onions
Different Types of Onions Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Read on to find out what are the health benefits of onions

What Are The Health Benefits Of Onions?

Onions are rich in sodium, calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, folates, and vitamins A, C, and E.

Impressive Health Benefits of Onions You Wish Someone Told You Earlier

It is a superfood with many health benefits, irrespective of whether you eat onions raw or cooked.

1. Helps The Heart

Eating onions prevents cardiovascular disease. Onions are rich in flavonoids and organic sulfur compounds. Flavonoids help in reducing the bad cholesterol in our bodies.

Organic sulfur compounds help as a natural blood thinner and stop the blood platelets from grouping up. If the blood platelets stick to each other, it will lead to clotting and eventually a heart attack. Thus it helps to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes by many folds.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Onions
Onions Help The Heart Photo by Weruskak on Unlimphotos

Dark-colored onions are best as they contain high amounts of quercetin and saponins. These help in reducing high blood pressure and triglycerides.

Onions also contain the allinus compound that gets released when onions are sliced, thus making you cry. Allinase helps in lowering the bad cholesterol (LDL) in our body and improving heart health.

2. Helps in Reducing Cancer

According to The National Onion Association, red onions are high in quercetin. It is believed to help in reducing colorectal cancer and breast cancer cells.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Onions
Onions Help To Prevent Cancer Photo by Angiola Harry on Unsplash

Shallots and yellow onions are also good options, but white onions contain the least quercetin and other antioxidants.

The exact mechanism by which some compounds present in onions prevent cancer is still unknown. The risk of colorectal cancer was found to have reduced for those consuming allium vegetables like onion.

Vitamin C in onions is an antioxidant that helps to counter the formation of the free radicals that are linked to cancer, especially stomach and colorectal cancers. Sulfur compounds found in onions suppress tumor growth and cell mutation.

While it is found that there is some association between Allium vegetable consumption and reducing the risk of cancer, the required amount that a person should consume to get to know the health benefits of onions is still not clear.

3.  Rich in Antioxidants

Antioxidants are compounds that hinder oxidation, a process that contributes to diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry has found that onions are rich in antioxidants and contain different varieties of flavonoids that are both antioxidants and anti-inflammatory.  Onions are one of the richest sources of antioxidants in our diet.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Onions
Onions Are Rich In Antioxidants Photo by Michael Burrows From Pexels

Red onions are oozing in anthocyanins, the unique plant pigment that contributes to the deep color of red onion.

Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry says that the outer layers of onions have a high concentration of flavonoids. So you should be careful while peeling the skin of onions and try and remove as little as possible of the edible part of the onion.

4. Filled With Nutrients

Onions are filled with nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and fibers but low in calories. A medium onion is said to contain only 40 calories.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Onion
Onions Are Filled With Nutrients Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Onions are high in Vitamin C and help to build our immunity, repair tissues, absorption of iron, and collagen production. This vitamin is also a potent antioxidant protecting your cells from getting damaged caused by the free radicals.

Vitamin B, Folate, and Pyridoxine help improve metabolism, functioning of our nerves, and production of red blood cells.  All these are present in onions that play a crucial role in building a robust immune system along with their antibiotic property.

If you still doubt the health benefits of onions, then remember these flavorful bulbs are also a good source of potassium required for the normal function of our cells, fluid balance, the function of our kidneys, muscle contraction, and nerve transmission.

5. Helps To Reduce Blood Sugar

If you are thinking about what are the health benefits of onions to reduce blood sugar, then well, there are some beneficial compounds present in it that have been significant for people with diabetes or pre-diabetes.

It is found that chromium in onions helps in regulating blood sugar levels. Compounds like quercetin and sulfur that are found in onion promote insulin production, thus making this vegetable a healthy choice for those with diabetes.

Quercetin 1will help interact with the cells in the pancreas, small intestine, and liver to control the whole body’s blood sugar levels.

It is seen that people who have Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes showed lower glucose levels for nearly 4 hours after they are red onions.

How to Use Onions to Lower Blood Sugar - Onion is The Perfect Medicine For Sugar

6. Increases Bone Density

One onion contains about 25.3mg of calcium. A veggie rich in calcium means improved bone density in your body.

Even though dairy products are attributed to boosting bone health but just like many other foods, onions also support building strong bones.

Middle-aged women or postmenopausal women who consumed onion daily showed improved bone mineral density and antioxidant levels. At least eating raw onions once a day will increase the overall bone density. It is also said to reduce the risk of hip fractures in women.

All this could be due to the antioxidant properties of onion that reduce oxidative stress, thus preventing osteoporosis by boosting bone density.

7. Improves Digestion

What are the health benefits of onions to improve digestion? They are rich in fibers, thus promoting good digestion.

They also contain a particular type of soluble fiber, oligofructose2, that triggers the growth of good bacteria in the intestines.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Onions
Onions Help In Digestion Photo by Mockup Graphics on Unsplash

Oligo fructose helps in preventing and treating different types of diarrhea.

According to the National Onion Association, the phytochemicals present in onions destroy the free radicals, thus reducing the risk of developing gastric ulcers3

8. Improves Gut Health

Onions have an abundance of inulin, a fiber that works as a prebiotic.

It enriches the gut microbes promoting the growth of good bacteria required for gut health.

Inulin present in onions helps to prevent constipation, regulates blood sugar, enhances nutrient absorption, and improves bone density.

9. Reduces Breathing Problems

The anti-inflammatory property of onions is what decides on what are the health benefits of onions. It helps to soothe any respiratory ailments.

Asthma 4is an inflammatory condition. Onions contain quercetin which exhibits anti-inflammatory properties to help manage asthma and its symptoms.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Onions
Onions Prevent Breathing Problems Photo by Tim Goedhart on Unsplash

Onions possess broncho-dilator properties that help relax the lungs’ muscles and widen the airways, thus making breathing easy. Including onions in your diet can bring quick relief from respiratory illness.

10. Gives Glowing and Ageless Skin

What are the health benefits of onions for your skin? They are rich in Vitamin A, C, and K, that is required for spotless skin. These vitamins will help your skin get rid of pigmentation and also protect you from harmful UV rays5.

Quercetin that is filled in onions acts as a powerful antioxidant to keep your skin wrinkle-free.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Onions
Onions For Skin Photo by Shiny Diamond from Pexels

Adding a few drops of raw onion juice to your face pack will get you supple and acne-free skin.

Onions that contain antimicrobial6, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties will create wonders on your skin. It is also a powerful antiseptic that can protect your skin against skin infections and acne-causing bacteria.

11. Gifts You Healthy Hair

If you are wondering what are the health benefits of onions for your hair, rest assured it is not a joke being played on you.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Onions
Onions Gift Healthy Hair Photo by Bennie Lukas Bester From Pexels

You can find many Ayurveda hair products using onion juice for hair growth. The antibacterial properties of onion help in keeping dandruff and lice away from your scalp.

Various hair products use onions to help enrich your hair and get a natural glow.

12. Gives Good Vision

Onions contain selenium which helps in the production of Vitamin E. This vitamin helps to keep painful eye problems at bay.

Some natural eye products contain extracts of onion juice that give a soothing effect to your eyes.

13. Mends Insomnia

Onions contain ample amounts of an amino acid, L-tryptophan, that contains powerful sedative traits to induce sleep.

Onions possess calming qualities that relieve stress instantly and tensions from the mind and induce healthy sleeping patterns.

Onions are thus a superb wellness root vegetable that mends sleeping disorders of insomnia and generates uninterrupted rest at night.

14. Repairs Infertility

Infertility is a significant problem faced by so many couples nowadays.

A diet rich in antioxidants, Vitamins A, B, C, and E help improves the fertility rate.

Onions are abundant in antioxidants and flavonoids that help to improve sperm quantity and count.

Selecting And Storing Onions

Selecting and storing onions should be taken care of if you need to receive the full benefits on what are the health benefits of onions.

  1. Select onions that are clean, hard, dry, and smooth skin. Avoid buying onions showing signs of decay or having developed a seed stem.
  2. Onions should be stored at room temperature in an airy area. Onions like the yellow ones that have a strong flavor will last longer than the white onions.
  3. Avoid storing onions along with potatoes because they will absorb the moisture and ethylene gas of potatoes, thus rotting them easily.
  4. Cooked onions should not be stored in a metal bowl or airtight containers as this causes discoloration.
  5. Chopped onions on freezing will lose much of their flavor.
  6. Allyl sulfate compound of onions is what makes you cry while chopping them. To reduce this, chill onions for 20-30minutes before cutting to prevent the production of this compound. You can also leave the root end intact to prevent crying while chopping onions.

You've Been Storing Onions Wrong Your Entire Life

Adding Onions To Your Diet

What are the health benefits of onions? This is a million-dollar question! Onions form a staple part of food all over the world. Whether it is added to baked food, guacamole, eggs, soups, or meat, they increase the taste of the food.

They add flavor to dishes. Whether they are cooked or caramelized onions, it is a superfood. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fibers for your body. So here are some ways to add onions to your diet:

  • Raw onions will upgrade the flavor of any dull recipe
  • Caramelized onions added to baked goods make them more savory
What Are The Health Benefits Of Onions
Caramelized Fried Onion by Zkruger From Unlimphotos
  • To get a healthy dish, combine cooked onions with other vegetables
  • Add cooked onions to omelets, egg pies, or fritters
  • Tofu, chicken, or meat topped with sautéed onions adds flavor
  • Thinly sliced onions added to your salad make it more healthy
  • What Are The Health Benefits Of Onions
    Onions Added To Salad Photo by Chan Walrus on Pexels
  • Chopped onions, chickpeas, and red peppers make a fiber-rich salad
  • Onions and garlic make a good base for stocks and soups
  • Chopped raw onions topped on Mexican dishes like tacos or fajitas make them more likable
  • Onions added to chili recipes will boost its flavor
  • Raw onions blended with olive oil, vinegar, or fresh herbs make a tasty salad dressing
  • So just peel and eat to get all the goodness of onions.

    Finally

    The next time you wipe away your tears while chopping onions, remember what are the health benefits of onions.

    This nutrient-filled veggie contains elements that will reduce cancer risk and the risk of heart diseases. The antibacterial properties of onions will promote digestion and improve immune functions.

    Onion is an all-around performer and, when added to any dish, will enhance its taste and never make you doubt on what are the health benefits of onions.

    So include more onions in your diet and reap its benefits.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Why is a red onion better than a white for our health?

    Red onions are believed to be better for health than white onions because:

    1. Higher Antioxidant Content: Red onions contain a higher amount of antioxidants compared to white onions. These antioxidants help to protect cells from damage and promote overall health.
    2. Improved Heart Health: The high levels of flavonoids and anthocyanins in red onions can help to improve heart health by reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
    3. Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Red onions have anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce inflammation in the body, which is linked to several health conditions such as arthritis and heart disease.
    4. Better Blood Sugar Control: The high levels of chromium in red onions can help to regulate blood sugar levels, making it beneficial for people with diabetes.
    5. Boosted Immunity: The high levels of vitamins and minerals in red onions, such as vitamin C and iron, help to boost the immune system and protect against illness and infection.

    What are the benefits of having curd with onions?

    Consuming curd with onions can offer several health benefits due to the unique combination of nutrients found in both foods. Some of the potential benefits include:

    1. Improved digestion: Curd is rich in probiotics that can help improve gut health and relieve digestive issues. Onions, on the other hand, contain prebiotics that can help feed the good bacteria in the gut.
    2. Better bone health: Curd is a good source of calcium, which is essential for strong bones. Onions also contain minerals such as magnesium and phosphorus that play a role in bone health.
    3. Boosted immunity: Curd contains vitamins and minerals that can help boost the immune system and prevent infections. Onions are also known to have antimicrobial properties that can help prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.
    4. Lower blood pressure: The high potassium content in onions can help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease.
    5. Reduced inflammation: The antioxidants in both curd and onions can help reduce inflammation and improve overall health.

    What are caramelized onions and How to make them?

    Caramelized onions are onions that have been slowly cooked over low heat until they become soft and sweet, with a rich, golden-brown color. This process transforms the natural sugars in the onions into caramel, which enhances their flavor and creates a delicately sweet and savory taste.

    Caramelized onions are a popular ingredient in many dishes, including soups, stews, sauces, pizzas, sandwiches, and salads. They can also be served as a side dish on their own, or as a topping for meats, vegetables, or bread.

    Caramelized onions are a versatile ingredient that can add depth and complexity to many recipes, and they are a staple in many cuisines around the world.

    Here’s how to make caramelized onions:

    Ingredients:

    • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
    • 2 tbsp butter or olive oil
    • 1 tsp sugar
    • Salt and pepper, to taste

    Instructions:

    1. Heat a large pan over medium heat.
    2. Add the butter or oil to the pan and let it melt.
    3. Add the sliced onions to the pan and stir to coat with the fat.
    4. Sprinkle the sugar over the onions and stir to combine.
    5. Reduce the heat to low and let the onions cook, stirring occasionally, for about 25-30 minutes, or until they are soft and browned.
    6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
    1. Singh, Priyanka, et al. “The role of quercetin in plants.” Plant Physiology and Biochemistry 166 (2021): 10-19. ↩︎
    2. Paone, Paola, et al. “Prebiotic oligofructose protects against high-fat diet-induced obesity by changing the gut microbiota, intestinal mucus production, glycosylation and secretion.” Gut Microbes 14.1 (2022): 2152307. ↩︎
    3. Tarnawski, Andrzej S., and Amrita Ahluwalia. “The critical role of growth factors in gastric ulcer healing: the cellular and molecular mechanisms and potential clinical implications.” Cells 10.8 (2021): 1964. ↩︎
    4. Cevhertas, Lacin, et al. “Advances and recent developments in asthma in 2020.” Allergy 75.12 (2020): 3124-3146. ↩︎
    5. Park, Hea‐Lim, et al. “Retina‐inspired carbon nitride‐based photonic synapses for selective detection of UV light.” Advanced Materials 32.11 (2020): 1906899. ↩︎
    6. Abushaheen, Manar Ali, et al. “Antimicrobial resistance, mechanisms and its clinical significance.” Disease-a-Month 66.6 (2020): 100971. ↩︎
    1. I find it fascinating that you could use onions to spice up your dishes and take advantage of their antioxidant properties. My friend is looking for cooking advice since he’s having guests over this year. I will share this with him so he’d try ordering bulk spices for the event.

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