Onions tend to be one of those polarising foods—either you love the fact that their flavour takes over a dish, or you have to say, “hold ‘em, please!”
Good news for people in the former category is that onions come on basically everything, from salads to burgers. But are onions good for you?
Simply put: yes, onions are healthy.
First off, here is the nutritional breakdown of one cup of chopped, raw onions:
- 41 calories
- 0.12 g fat (0 g sat fat)
- 2 g protein
- 15 g carbs
- 3 g fibre
- 7 g sugar
- 6 mg sodium
Clearly low in calories and decently high in fibre, Bonnie Taub-Dix, R.D.N., creator of Better Than Dieting and author of Read It Before You Eat It: Taking You from Label to Table, says onions have a few added health advantages.
Onions are high in antioxidants like polyphenols, she says, which can help reduce cancer risk and may even help you live longer. Red onions, in particular, have the most antioxidants (particularly quercetin and anthocyanin), although all onions do have these benefits.
Onions are also rich in anti-inflammatory properties to help reduce aches and pains, says Taub-Dix. And they contain high amounts of prebiotics—helping feed the good bacteria in your gut so they multiply and work better.
Are there any downsides?
While onions are healthy, the whole crying-when-you-cut-them thing is not fun. But there is a fix: You can chill your onions in the fridge before you cut them—the cold temp slows down the release of tear-causing sulfuric compounds in the onion when you start slicing.
Also, onions can actually cause gas and bloating, says Taub-Dix, or even nausea, diarrhoea, and vomiting—the latter symptoms in more extreme cases. That’s because they contain fructose, a type of sugar that is a little rougher on the GI tract, she says. So if you have bad reflux, IBS, or are following a FODMAP diet, you should probably skip onions—your gut will thank you.
The bottom line?
If your body can tolerate it (and you don’t mind occasional meal-prep tears), you can definitely keep adding them to your favourite salads, burgers, soups, or whatever else you like their flavour for.
By Mallory Creveling