Onions Are Extremely Good for You—Here Are 3 Healthy Benefits to Prove It
Onions—you probably either love them or hate them. But if you fall into the latter category, you might want to reconsider. Onions are very good for you, and adding this nutrient-packed, aromatic vegetable into your meal rotation is a smart (and tasty) move. Simply put, "onions are low in calories and rich in potassium and vitamins B6 and C," says Jennifer Weis, RD, LDN, founder and owner of Jennifer Weis Nutrition. Thanks to its nutritional value, accessibility, and delicious flavor, it's no wonder this versatile bulb is a staple in cuisines across the world and forms the flavor base for a wide variety of dishes.
Walk into your grocery store's produce aisle or stroll through the local farmers market and you'll likely see a plethora of onion options—there are actually 21 different types! Onions are a vegetable species within the genus allium, along with similar aromatic bulbs like garlic, leeks, chives, and shallots. (While these other well-known veggies aren't onions themselves, they are in the same vegetable family and yield many health benefits, too.) Whole onions should last in your pantry or other cool, dry, dark place (not the fridge) for about two weeks—but don't store them next to potatoes, which emit gas and moisture that can quickly spoil onions. If you have leftover onion that's already been cut, pop it in a resealable bag in the fridge to stay fresh for about a week (you can also store it in a container in the freezer).
Here are some of the top nutritional benefits that onions provide. If you're looking for more reasons to pick up an onion or two next time you're at the store, you're in the right place.
Nutritional Benefits of Onions
How to Cook With Onions
Raw yellow onions tend to be the sweetest variety, making them a great addition to salsas. Cooked yellow onions make a savory base for soups, stews, and sauces. Onions are also delicious on their own, roasted, grilled, or sauteed. Top sandwiches and burgers with grilled (or raw!) onions to up the zest factor. For a tangy burst of flavor—and beautiful color—add pickled red onions to grain bowls, fish or pork tacos, or alongside any meaty main. If you're a little uneasy about adding onions into your at-home menu, start by keeping the cooking process simple. Weis recommends slicing the onions into discs, brushing them with olive oil, seasoning with salt and pepper, and grilling both sides.
Check out these creative recipes—starring the humble onion—that are bursting with flavor and nutrients.
Pineapple, Swordfish, and Red Onion Kebabs
Deeply Caramelized Onion Dip
Slow Cooker Cuban Black Bean Chili
Caramelized Onion and Sour Cherry Tartine
Squash and Caramelized Onion Whole-Wheat Twist
Should anyone avoid onions?
It's true that onions aren't for everyone. If you feel like onions don't sit well with you, it's not all in your head. Some people are very sensitive to the oligosaccharides, a fructan found in onions. Karen Graham, RDN, a functional medicine dietitian, says that onions can be problematic for many people, causing gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea, and that about 30 percent of people tested for food intolerances in her practice have an issue with onions. The green tops of scallions are not usually a problem, she says, so that may be a good place to start to add onion flavor and nutrients into meals.