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Are Onions Good For You? Let’s Find Out!

Last Updated on January 15, 2024

We always use the onion for most of our cooking. And we are all familiar with the red onions and white onions. But, are onions good for you?

are onions healthy for you

Onions contain a lot of flavor and can be eaten raw or cooked. When you add onions to your food they have a spicy, tangy taste while cooked onions have a sweeter taste.

But what do onions offer, and why are they so widely used in countless dishes and recipes?

They are undoubtedly one of the most common ingredients you will see in any cuisine worldwide. And onion consumption is tremendous whenever there is food being cooked.

In this article, we will tackle what these bulbs do to enhance our food and what onions may contain in terms of nutritional benefits.

Are Onions Good For You? 

onion benefits

Onions are not only delicious and versatile, but they also offer numerous health benefits and are very good for you.

These pungent vegetables are rich in essential nutrients like vitamin C, B vitamins, and potassium. They also contain antioxidants, such as quercetin, which have been linked to reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

Onions have anti-inflammatory properties and may help improve heart health by reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Additionally, the sulfur compounds found in onions may have antimicrobial effects and potentially boost the immune system.

Studies have shown onions may also benefit your body due to their potential anticancer properties as well, thanks to their high content of organosulfur compounds.

These compounds have shown promise in inhibiting the growth of cancer cells and reducing the risk of certain types of cancer.

(Source: Cleveland Clinic)

Types Of Onions – The Effects Of Onions On Our Food

nutritional value of onions

The common onion or the bulb onion is a vegetable that’s part of the Allium family.

The Allium including onions are great for sauteing as they provide a savory aroma that makes our food aromatic and flavorful. This plant is a close relative to leeks, garlic, shallots, and more.

The onion as mentioned has a strong pungent taste when eaten raw and is commonly found in salads.

Onions also turn sweeter when cooked and are commonly used for soups, stir-fries, stews, and a lot more. 

Humans who regularly consume these bulbs have been cultivating them for almost 7,000 years. And we have grown a variety of them which have different uses.

Let’s look at the types.

  • 🧅 Yellow onions – Are sweet and they turn dark brown when caramelized. This is the type you see when you order French onion soup in a restaurant.
  • 🧅 Red onions – These are known for their strong, sharp, and pungent taste and are commonly eaten raw or grilled.
  • 🧅 White onions – Have a milder flavor with a sweet undertone. They turn golden in color when cooked and are commonly used in stir-fries or even onion rings.

Chopped onions or sliced green onions are commonly found in various hearty and warm dishes.

They can be used as the main ingredient in their own, for example, French onion soup, onion rings, creamed onions, and onion chutney.

Their layered nature makes them easy to take apart, be stuffed, or dipped in batters. They are extremely versatile and are used for baking, broiling, grilling, frying, roasting, and more.

They can even be pickled and eaten as a snack or served as a side dish or condiment as well.

Health Benefits Of Onions

Now that we’ve talked about onions, their properties, and what they do to our food, let’s look at it under a microscope and dissect what the health benefits are when consuming onions.

Onions contain an antioxidant called quercetin which is a type of flavonoid.

Flavonoids are what give fruits and vegetables their color. The quercetin found in onions may help the body destroy free radicals which damage cells and affect DNA.

These antioxidants also promote bone health and help reduce bone density loss.

Onions are also rich in fiber and prebiotics which aid in promoting gut health. Adding onions to your daily diet will help prevent heart disease and maintain heart health.

Fiber regulates high blood pressure and high blood sugar. It also prevents blood clots which increase the risk of heart ailments and the risk of colorectal (colon) cancer.

As mentioned they are a good source of antioxidants called quercetin which has antioxidant properties.

Quercetin also has antibacterial properties as well and this combats E. coli infections, Stomach ulcers, and more. (Source: Medical News Today)

More Uses Of Onions

onions healthy

Who knew that onion skins and juice have health benefits as well? This section will tell us about what uses the other components of onions have.

Onion Juice – Surprisingly onion juice has a lot of health benefits as well. Who knew that something that brings us to tears can also keep us happy and healthy? Let’s check it out.

The juice is rich in sulfur which improves hair growth and collagen production. The antibacterial and antifungal properties of onions can also fight acne.

The presence of flavonoids and antioxidants can help prevent wrinkles and delay signs of aging as well.

Onions are rich in anti-cancer compounds that reduce the risk of certain cancers. With low-calorie content, it helps boost metabolism and lower blood pressure, which in turn helps manage diabetes.

How To Extract Onion Juice

Peel and slice 3 to 4 medium-sized onions and place them in a juicer. Extract the juice and drink it.

You can also add the slices into a blender and turn them into a paste. This can also be eaten or added to food.

Onion Skin – Onions are one of the most common ingredients used around the world. We usually discard the skin when we cook but did you know that onions skins have uses as well? Let’s find out.

The skins can add extra nutrition to soups and stews. These peelings contain vitamins A, C, and E. They also contain the flavonoids and antioxidants that onions are known for.

Just wrap the skins in cheesecloth and tie them up with butcher’s twine to make a sachet. This will act like a little tea bag of sorts for easy extraction after use.

You can also add this sachet to your rice to add more nutrients to it. Or put this sachet in a mug of boiled water and let it steep.

You can drink this like a cup of tea to absorb its nutrients. This will help you fight cramps, or help induce sleep.

You can also pour this water on your skin and stops itching, irritation, or inflammation.

Or if you want natural hair dye, once the water has cooled down you can pour it on your hair and leave it on for 30 minutes to an hour. This will give your hair a golden brown look.

The skin is also added to bread dough to add more flavor as well. Just ground the skin into a powder using a mortal and pestle. 

Keep the skin on your onions when roasting or grilling. This will prevent them from burning in the oven or grill.

Onion skins aren’t just good for us. They’re also beneficial to plants as well. You can add these to your compost pile to make it more nutritious for your plants.

Onions In History And Symbolism

onions history

Indeed the onion has been with us for a long time as we cultivated it as early as 7,000 BC. And we have embedded it into our daily lives.

It has been so important to us as humans that we have included it in our cultures as well.

In Egypt, onions were revered as a blessing and they used it not just for culinary purposes.

They tapped into the natural properties of onions to heal and used them as medicine. They also buried their loved ones with onions as the circles that formed the onion’s rings meant eternal life.

Egyptians also included onions in their most popular burial practice, the mummification of their dead. Which they stuffed in their loved ones’ bodies.

In India, they were used as natural diuretics and a food supplement that provides good eyes, heart, and gut health.

Romans included onions in their armies’ provisions and supplies. It helped the soldiers induce sleep and reduce cramps which helped them fight better.

The Greeks fed onions to their athletes during the early versions of the Olympics to fortify them and help them recover from injuries.

During the Middle Ages, Europe had 3 valuable vegetables that they couldn’t live without. It was beans, cabbage, and you guessed it, onions.

Early pilgrims bought onions with them on their journey into the United States and became such a valuable commodity because they helped flavor their food.

Onions have been a part of human history for millennia and will continue to be as time goes on.

As long as we humans need medicine and consume food, Onions will always be a part of our lives. 😃

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

1. WHAT DO ONIONS TASTE LIKE?

It varies on which type you use. But eaten raw they have a strong pungent flavor, and it will be crisp and crunchy. When cooked they tend to turn sweet.

2. CAN I EAT ONIONS RAW?

Yes, you can. Raw onions are added to salads and have a ton of health benefits. You can add chopped or diced onions to tuna and mayo spread, potato salad, egg salad, and much more.

3. WHY DO ONIONS CAUSE TEARS?

Cutting or chopping up onions with a knife causes damage to their cells. As a defense mechanism, the onions release an enzyme into the air. This form of sulfuric acid irritates the eyes thus giving us tears.

To prevent this make sure that your knife is razor sharp to lessen cell damage to the onion.

When chopping keep your mouth slightly open and breathe through there instead of your nose.

Also keep the root part of the onion intact to minimize the enzyme spread into the air as most of it is at the base of the onion.

4. WHEN DO I AVOID ONIONS?

If you have bleeding disorders you must avoid eating excess onions or supplements as onions are known to have blood thinning properties and prevent blood clots from happening.

Also if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding due to lack of data on its safety.

5. ARE ONIONS GOOD FOR MY HEALTH?

Absolutely! Eating onions can help fight certain cancers and heart diseases. It also helps promote gut health and good digestion.

6. WHAT ARE THE NUTRITIONAL BENEFITS OF ONIONS?

Onions are naturally rich in antioxidants, fiber, prebiotics, vitamins, and minerals. They are also low in calories, fat, cholesterol, and sodium.

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