Health Benefits of Onions

June 30, 2015 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Natural vs Big Pharma


Onions are good for you!

Maybe you didn’t know that onions have health benefits, or perhaps, you heard they did but didn’t know what those benefits are. Either way, despite the health benefits, it is likely that some mothers and home cooks will still have to continue to sneak onions into their recipes. At some stages of life it just seems to be a given that onions are hated, and for some, the thought that they may be good for you – may only escalate the disgust for onions.

Love those Onions

Not everyone agrees. I for one, love onions.  Any way that onions become caramelized ranks high on my list for ways to enjoy onions. Think of French Onion soup, or an onion roasted for several hours in a pot roast, or even onions roasted on a barbeque until they are soft and caramelized.  What is not to like about that! (Right now I am craving onions!)

Some vegetables that are good for you have to be consumed in copious amounts to give you the benefits, such as spinach. No so with onions. Only one medium onion a day is adequate and as it fits well into all three meals, that could be 1/3 of an onion at each meal. That is doable.

If you didn’t eat onions before, maybe you will now. And if you ate them before, perhaps learning more about the benefits of onions will encourage you to enjoy them even more.

Versatile Humble Vegetable with Many Health Benefits

Studies after studies have confirmed that onions indeed possess many active compounds that have been proven beneficial for all sorts of conditions. Packed with nutrients, onions  can be used in meat dishes, pastas, rice dishes, potato dishes, salads, and almost any main course meal – from breakfast to dinner. You can add them to bread, prior to baking or serve caramelized onions on toast, or with onion jam. You can make biscuits, or pancakes with onions. The list is almost endless.

Onions Nutritional Highlights

Onions are a very good source of:

  • vitamin C,
  • B6,
  • biotin,
  • chromium,
  • calcium
  • dietary fibre

Onions are a good source of:

  • folic acid
  • vitamin B1
  • K.

Onions are a complex carbohydrate, and 100 gram serving provides 44 calories and 1.4 grams of fibre.

Onions and Heart Health

Seeing as onions assist in thinning the blood and diminishing the risk of clots, the humble onion is good for your heart. Dr. Victor Gurewich, of Harvard, recommends heart patients should eat an onion every day. Unfortunately, most cardiologists may not even know this.

Onions are beneficial in managing cholesterol, retarding clotting, lowering triglycerides, lowering blood pressure,
making onions a heart smart vegetable.

Onions: Happy Tears

The tears that are generated when you cut onions come from allinase. Alliinase is an enzyme and biologists attribute its presence in onions and garlic as natures way of deterring herbivores from eating the onion into extinction. As it is an enzyme it catalyzes  chemical reactions. Although, I could not find scientific evidence who knows, maybe this is what makes onions so good for your health.

Onions, our favorite tear causing vegetable, also contain flavonoids, which give the vegetable its color. Flavonoids are antioxidants and have a direct effect on suppressing tumors and enhance our immune responses. Onions

also contain Quercitin, another flavonoid, which in all types of onions including shallots, yellow, white, and red onions. The majority of the Quercitin in onions is found in the skin of the onion. Quercitin helps thin blood and wards off blood clots, lowers blood sugar, lowers bad cholesterol, and raises the good cholesterol (HDL Cholesterol). It also helps fight respiratory ailments such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, and hay fever. Quercitin, is also a mild sedative…so maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to throw onion skins away. Quercitin has been sited as beneficial in treatment or in inhibiting diabetes, stomach cancer, atherosclerosis, and infections.

Onions have been shown to lower blood sugar more effectively than some prescription drugs. It is believed this occurs by increasing the life span of insulin and appears to happen in the liver.

The antioxidants in onions protect against cancer by removing free radicals. Organosulfur, compounds, found in all varieties of onions has been proven to prevent cancer in lab animals. Studies have also shown that onion extract can kill tumor cells in test tubes, kill tumors already growing in lab mice and arrest leukemia in mice.

Onions: Smelly or Smells Delicious?

Most of us would agree that raw onions don’t smell so nice, but to anyone who loves onions, the aroma of onions roasting aside a pot roast brings the comforting memories of home. It is the sulfur content in onions that make them smell. Sulfur is good for your liver. Sulfur foods mix best with proteins as this stimulates the actions of amino acids in the brain and nervous system.

The Power of the Onion

Onions are also anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, antiviral and cancer inhibiting. Onions have potent antibacterial activity, destroying many disease-causing pathogens, including E. coli and salmonella.

Onion is a natural detoxifier. The amino acids in the onion (methionine and cystine are good for detoxifying the body of heavy metals. Onions have been show to help detoxify mercury, cadmium, and lead from the body. Vitamin C also found in onions, has also been recognized as a way of ridding the body of harmful metals.

Onions are our Friend

After all this evidence, it is almost impossible to make a valid argument against onions. Undeniably they are easier to consume when cooked, and most people can tolerate them cooked. Try some new onion recipes and enjoy the benefits of onions.

Onion Jam


1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 white onions, julienned (any sweet onion will do)
2 lemons, zested and juiced
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon Kosher salt or Himalayan Sea Salt
1/3 cup firmly-packed brown sugar
Freshly ground black pepper


Melt the butter and olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions, lemon zest, ginger, cumin and salt and cook until the onions start to turn translucent, about 5 minutes

Add the brown sugar and the lemon juice and turn the heat to low. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions start to cook down and the liquid is evaporated, about 15 minutes. Add 1/3 cup water every 10 minutes and continue to cook until the onions are thick and golden brown, about 55 minutes. Season with coarse ground black pepper to taste.