Onions For Health

Onions for Better Health, says World Health Organization

Everyone loves onions but few recognize how good they are for you! They are full of protective phytonutrients, vitamins, trace minerals, and unique anti-inflammatory compounds. Onions are one of my favorite powerfoods.

6 Health Benefits of Onions:

1. WHO recognizes that onions help relieve symptoms such as coughs, congestion asthma and respiratory infections.

  • Early American settlers used wild onions to treat colds, coughs, and asthma, and to repel insects.
  • In Chinese medicine, onions have been used to treat angina, coughs, bacterial infections, and breathing problems.
  • Sugar and onion juice form syrup, much used in domestic practice, for cough and other affections of the air-tubes among children.

2. Onions contain a variety of other naturally occurring chemicals known as organosulfur compounds that have been linked to lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

  • Contain sulfides similar to those found in garlic which may lower blood lipids and blood pressure.

3. Onions are a rich source of flavonoids, substances known to provide protection against cardiovascular disease.

4. Onions are also natural anti-clotting agents since they possess substances with fibrinolytic activity and can suppress platelet-clumping. The anti-clotting effect of onions closely correlates with their sulfur content.

5. Onions provide protection against stomach cancer as onions are rich in sulfides. Studies in Greece have shown a high consumption of onions and garlic to be protective against stomach cancer. Dutch men and women who ate lots of onions (half an onion per day) had half the level of stomach cancer compared with those eating no onions at all.

6. In areas in India where they never consumed onions or garlic, people had higher blood cholesterol levels and shorter blood clotting times, than in areas in India where they ate garlic and onions regularly.

Onion Trivia:

  • Ancient Egyptians worshiped the onion.  They believed its shape and rings symbolized eternity; it was the only vegetable that was made out of gold.
  • By eating parsley you can get rid of onion breath.
  • The largest onion ever grown weighed 10 lbs 14 oz by V. Throup of Silsden, England according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
  • Athletes in ancient Greece ate large quantities of onion because it was believed to lighten the balance of blood.
  • In Rome, gladiators had an onion rub down to firm their muscles.
  • In the Middle Ages, people would pay their rent with onions or give them as gifts.


Onion Nutrition:

  • Low in saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol.
  • High in vitamin C, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, folate and manganese.
  • The nutritional value of onions makes them ideal for weight loss and maintaining optimum health.
  • Are good sources of fructooligosaccharides, which stimulate the growth of healthy bifidobacteria and create an environment in the colon that is unfriendly to harmful bacteria.
  • Like most vegetables are alkaline-forming.

Interesting Facts:

  • Onions have been cultivated for over 5,000 years in Asia and the Middle East. Today, onions rank sixth among the world’s leading vegetable crops.
  • Onion consumption in the U.S. has increased approximately 50 percent over the past 20 years, according to the National Onion Association.

Use and Safety

  • Onions are safely consumed by most people; but consuming large quantities of onions can cause stomach and gastrointestinal distress resulting in nausea and diarrhea.
  • As for the danger of keeping and using leftover raw onions; I could not find any substantiated information on this.

How to Store Onions:

  • Store onions in a well-ventilated space at room temperature, away from heat and bright light. With the exception of green onions, they do not need to be refrigerated.
  • Onions should not be stored near potatoes as they will absorb their moisture and ethylene gas, which will cause them to spoil quickly.

Onion Tears?

Ok.  There are lots of scientific technical terms regarding onions causing tears. They include lachrymatory factor (LF), 1-propenyl-L-cysteine sulphoxide, alliinase enzyme, lachrymatory-factor synthase etc.  All of that is too technical for me.

I just hope they do not figure out how to genetically engineer the gene that takes the tear-making factor out of the onion.

What you really want to know is how to cut onions without the tears, right?

5 Tips for Fewer Onion Tears:

  • Chill the onions for an hour before cutting; this will slow down the onion’s metabolism.
  • Cut onions by an open window.
  • Wear glasses or goggles.
  • You can cut onions under running cold water, but I do not recommend it – onion nutrients will go down the drain.
  • Cut off the root of the onion last, the root of the onion has the highest concentration of enzymes that produce tears.

The Best Onions to Use in Food Preparation:

  • Yellow onions turn a rich, dark brown when cooked which makes it great for French onion soup.
  • Red onion is a good for using fresh as in salads or sandwiches; also for grilling.
  • White onions are used in Mexican cuisine; they turn a golden color and are sweet when sauteed.

Please remember that onion rings are NOT a health food.

“That would be cool if you could eat a good food with a bad food and the good food would cover for the bad food when it got to your stomach. Like you could eat a carrot with an onion ring and they would travel down to your stomach, then they would get there, and the carrot would say, It’s cool, he’s with me.”  –Mitch Hedberg

Also Please Note: There is false info going around by email and posted on the web about onions absorbing viruses, thus preventing people from contracting flu or other illnesses. This has no medical or scientific basis.

Onion recipes:
Onion Gravy: A vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free classic.
Onion Soup: A classic recipe that is vegan – and just as healthy as the original.

Now I ask: What would life be like without this powerfood?

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Keith H.
Keith H.2 years ago

Thank you

Susan B.
Susan B.2 years ago

I've always liked onions

Michael H.
Mike H.2 years ago

Thank you for posting this

Bryna Pizzo
Bryna Pizzo2 years ago

I love onions! Thank you for the information!

Jeannet Bertelink


Gabriela Baldaia
Gabriela Baldaia2 years ago

Soups are so much better with onions !!
I didn't know they should not be stored near potatoes ... now I do !! Thank you :)

Jinny L.
Jinny L.2 years ago

Love those onions....eat them daily. Thanks for sharing.

Sonia Minwer Barakat Requ

Love onions,thanks for sharing

Natasha Salgado
Natasha Salgado2 years ago

Love onions--especially red/Spanish onions. Will be eating more of them now! Thanks

Heatherjoy Klein
Heatherjoy Klein2 years ago