Onions not only taste good in your favorite soups, stir-fries and salads. Yellow or brown, white or red, these versatile vegetables will also add vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber to your plate. The compounds in onions that are good for you can ultimately help protect your heart, immune system, and more, while also making your starters, apps, and sites glow.
“Onions are an affordable and tasty addition to any meal that contains a dose of antioxidants and serious health benefits,” says Stefani Sassos, MS, RDN, registered nutritionist with the Good Housekeeping Institute.
Give credit onions – and other members of the Allium family such as garlic, green onions, leeks, shallots, and chives – where credit is due. These vegetables offer a number of benefits as part of a plant-rich diet.
- 44 calories
- 13 g of carbohydrates
- 1 g protein
- <1 g total fat
- <1 g saturated fat
- 2.5 grams of fiber
- 6 grams of sugar
- 216 mg of potassium
- 15 mg of magnesium
- 11 mg vitamin C.
- 0.178 mg vitamin B6
Onion Health Benefits:
Onions are nutritious and flavorful.
Onions are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, folic acid, potassium, and manganese. They also provide a little fiber. The vegetables can also add great flavor to dishes without adding much calories, sodium, or cholesterol. This means it’s a great substitute for salty sauces or marinades if you’re looking for an extra zipper.
Eating onions can strengthen your heart.
Some research shows that onions can help in the cardiovascular department. The naturally occurring compounds in the layers of onions can help fight inflammation and lower cholesterol levels, thereby protecting against heart disease. Research into a specific polyphenol in onions – quercetin – has also been linked to lowering blood pressure. Red onions, in particular, contain more quercetin. So choose the more colorful varieties for an extra boost.
It can also boost your immune system.
Onions not only contain immune-boosting vitamin C, they also contain phytochemicals that can support your body’s defense system. The antioxidants it contains promote a strong immune system, and other compounds like sulfides aid in protein synthesis.
Onions and their relatives, garlic, shallots, and leeks, can provide a number of health benefits as part of a vegetarian diet.
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Eating more onions can reduce your risk of cancer.
“Like onions and garlic, allium vegetables are rich in antioxidants and are said to have anti-inflammatory effects,” says Sassos, a state-certified specialist in oncological nutrition. “They contain organosulfur compounds that can reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, including prostate cancer. They are a great addition to any cancer prevention diet.”
According to a meta-analysis of 27 studies from 2014, people who consumed large amounts of allium were less likely to develop stomach cancer. Another review of 16 studies also linked high allium consumption to lower risk of colon cancer.
It can also promote good digestion.
The fiber in onions can help your digestive system stay in top shape. These prebiotic compounds promote the growth of good gut bacteria, also called probiotics. In turn, these living organisms prevent or treat GI problems while also helping your immune system.
Additionally, the specific type of fiber in onions (as well as garlic, wheat, and legumes) can feed the beneficial microbiota more effectively than the fiber in other foods, a 2018 meta-analysis found.
That said, not everyone should eat onions for digestive health. “Although onions have prebiotic activity that can improve intestinal health in many people, people with IBS or those on a low-FODMAP diet may want to limit their consumption,” warns Sassos. “Onions are particularly rich in FODMAP fructans, which are poorly absorbed in the small intestine and worsen IBS symptoms.”
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