Health Benefits Onions - Nutritional Value of Onions Raw and Cooked

Onions are one of the oldest vegetables consumed by mankind. The health benefits of onions are outstanding, both for raw and cooked onions.

Onions are used in a plethora of recipes for curries, stir-fries. Onions are perhaps one of the most universal of all common ingredients. They can be added raw to your favorite salad or homemade pizza, pasta sauce, stir fries or curries.

There are huge range of onion varieties, each with their own color, flavor and culinary use - red, yellow, purple, white and green. Onions can be eaten raw, and cooked by sauteeing, steaming, boiling, grilling, barbecuing and roasting, and can be cooked in the microwave.

They are frequently used to flavor all sorts of side dishes such as dips, soups, spreads, salads, and various baked dishes.

Onions (Allium cepa) belong to the lily family, and are related to garlic, leeks, chives, scallions and shallots.

The sharp, strong smell and acidic taste of onions is due to its sulfur compound allyl propyl disulphide.

The sulfur compounds are released in the air as volatile compounds when the onion is cut or sliced. When these compounds reach your eyes they dissolve in the liquid and make sulfuric acid that causes the burning and irritation.

The Spanish red onions have a milder flavor than brown or white onions, which makes them ideal for adding raw onion to salads.

This article summarizes the health benefits of onions by showcasing their nutritional values in comparison with related vegetables - garlic, chives, leeks, shallots, spring onions or scallions and alternative vegetables - fennel, bulb and artichoke.

Onions are a remarkable health food because they keep so well and can be used all through the year for a variety of dishes.
Onions are a remarkable health food because they keep so well and can be used all through the year for a variety of dishes. | Source

Health Benefits of Onions

The first table shown below, summarizes the nutrients in onions compared with close relative garlic and chives (all for 100 g).

This may be misleading because people eat a lot more onions than garlic or chives. This needs to be taken into account when assessing the relative value o onions. The second table compares the nutrients in a range of other vegetables - spring onions or scallions, leeks, shallots, fennel bulb and artichoke.

  • Onions are good sources of vitamins particular vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E. While onions contain less of these vitamins than chives or garlic (see the table) you tend to eat a lot more onions and so the total amount in the food is likely to be larger.
  • Onions are amongst the lowest of all the other vegetables in terms of calories with on 40 Calories per 100 g. This triples to 132 Calories for sauteed onions which absorb some of the cooking oil.
  • Onions have the amongst the lowest total fat content with only 0.1 g per 100 g, which increases to 10 g for cooked onions.
  • Protein and dietary fiber levels are moderate and the value increases because you tend to eat more onion than garlic or chives.
  • Onion are a rich source of phyto-chemical compounds Allyl disulphide and allium compounds which have been shown to be antioxidants and also have anti-diabetic properties by lower blood sugar levels. Another compound, Allicin is known to help make blood vessels more flexible helping to reduce overall blood pressure.
  • Onions are a rich source of chromium and magnesium.
  • Onions are also an excellent source of the antioxidant flavonoid quercetin, which has been found to have to have anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic and anti-diabetic functions. This compound is also found shallots in red and yellow onions but not in white onions. Quercitin has been shown to infections, atherosclerosis, diabetes, hay fever, chronic bronchitis, fight asthma, ward off blood clots, raise good-type HDL cholesterol, lower cholesterol and thin the blood and may protect the body from stomach cancer.
  • Onions are also a good source of the various Vitamin B-complex group including pyridoxine, folates. pantothenic acid, and thiamin. B1, B6 and K.
  • Onions contain relatively large quantities of sulfur, which is good for the liver.

Uses of Onions

Raw onions keep very well and are readily available throughout the year. There are lots of varieties to choose from so that you can match their sharp, spicy, tangy and pungent odor and flavors to the dishes you are preparing. Red onions, for example tend to be milder and sweeter and white onions are milder than brown varieties.

While buying onions, choose firm-textured fresh looking onions that are clean, well shaped and have crispy, dry outer skins that are not damaged.

Avoid onions that show signs of sprouting or any signs of black spots or black mold which indicates that the onions are not fresh and have started to deteriorate. If you can get the retailer to cut one open to check that there is no brownness inside

Store the onions in cool dark place free from moisture and humidity. They can be kept for longer in the refrigerator.

Preparation of Onions and Serving Methods

Cut both the ends off using a sharp knife. Then remove the outer 2-3 layers of skin and outer whorls to remove the discolored ones. For stir-fries slice them vertically and coarsely so that the pieces are quite large. For salads and when the onions are to be eaten raw. slice them cross-ways and thinly so that they don't overpower the other items in the salad.

Home Cooking and Serving Tips for Onions

  • pizzas
  • burgers
  • pasta sauce
  • quiches
  • slow cooked caramelised onion
  • curries
  • stir-fries
  • soups
  • stuffing
  • pastes
  • homemade pesto
  • sauces
  • tarts and a wide variety of baked dishes
  • baked stuffed onions with spinach feta
  • French onion fondue
  • French onion marmalade
  • French onion soup
  • roasted Balsamic sweet onions
  • sweet onion potato salad

Nutritional Data for 100 g of Raw Onions, Garlic and Chives

 
Onion
Onion
Garlic
Chives
Serving 100 g
Nutrient Value
% recommended Daily Allowance
Nutrient Value
Nutrient Value
Energy
40 Cal
2%
149 Cal
30 Cal
Carbohydrates
9.34 g
7%
33.06 g
4.35 g
Protein
1.10 g
2%
6.36 g
3.27 g
Total Fat
0.10 g
1%
0.5 g
0.73 g
Cholesterol
0 mg
0%
0 mg
0 mg
Dietary Fiber
1.7 g
5%
2.1 g
2.5 g
Vitamins
 
 
 
 
Folates
19 mcg
5%
3 mcg
105 mcg
Niacin
0.12 mg
1%
0.70 mg
0.65 mg
Pantothenic acid
0.12 mg
3%
0.6 mg
0.32 mg
Pyridoxine
0.12 mg
9%
1.23 mg
0.14 mg
Riboflavin
0.03 mg
2%
0.11 mg
0.11 mg
Thiamin
0.05mg
4%
0.20 mg
0.08 mg
Vitamin A
2 IU
0%
9 IU
4353 IU
Vitamin C
7.4 mg
12%
31.2 mg
58.1 mg
Vitamin E
0.02 mg
0%
0.08 mg
0.21 mg
Electrolytes
 
 
 
 
Sodium
4 mg
0%
153 mg
3 mg
Potassium
146 mg
3%
401 mg
296 mg
Minerals
 
 
 
 
Calcium
23 mg
2%
181 mg
92 mg
Copper
0.04 mg
4%
0.3 mg
0.16 mg
Iron
0.2 mg
3%
1.70 mg
1.60 mg
Magnesium
10 mg
3%
25 mg
42 mg
Manganese
0.13 mg
6%
1.67 mg
0.37 mg
Phosphorus
29 mg
4%
153 mg
58 mg
Zinc
0.17 mg
2%
1.16 mg
0.56 mg
Phyto-nutrients
 
 
 
 
Carotene-beta
1 mcg
--
5 mcg
2612 mcg
Cryptoxanthin-beta
0 mcg
--
0 mcg
0 mcg
Lutein-zeaxanthin
4 mcg
--
16 mcg
323 mcg

Comparison of Cooked and Uncooked Onion with Similar Vegetables

Serving 100 g
Onions
Onions (cooked, sauteed)
Leeks
Shallots
Onions, spring or scallions
Fennel, bulb
Artichoke
Macronutrients
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Calories (kcal)
40
132
64
70
32
30
47
Protein (g)
1.10
0.95
1.50
2.50
1.84
1.26
3.27
Total Fat (g)
0.10
10.68
0.32
0.10
0.20
0.21
0.15
Total Carbohydrates (g)
9.35
7.77
14.32
16.80
7.32
7.37
10.51
Dietary Fiber (g)
1.75
1.82
1.82
 
2.80
3.02
5.39
Sugar (g)
4.25
 
3.95
 
2.32
 
0.99
Vitamins
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Vitamin C (mg)
7.50
1.82
12.27
8.00
18.80
12.09
11.72
Thiamin (mg)
0.05
0.05
0.06
0.06
0.06
0.01
0.07
Riboflavin (mg)
0.03
0.04
0.03
0.02
0.08
0.03
0.07
Niacin (mg)
0.12
0.04
0.40
0.20
0.52
0.65
1.05
Pantothenic Acid (mg)
0.12
0.17
0.14
0.29
0.08
0.23
0.34
Vitamin B6 (mg)
0.12
0.20
0.24
0.34
0.06
0.05
0.12
Folate (mcg)
20.00
0.00
63.64
30.00
64.00
27.91
67.97
Vitamin B12 (mcg)
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
Vitamin A (IU)
3
 
1686
1190
996
135
13
Vitamin E (mg)
0.03
0.68
0.91
 
0.56
 
0.19
Vitamin K (mcg)
0.50
21.36
47.73
 
207.20
 
14.77
Minerals
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Calcium (mg)
22.50
18.18
59.09
40.00
72.00
48.84
43.75
Iron (mg)
0.20
0.27
2.14
1.20
1.48
0.74
1.28
Magnesium (mg)
10.00
9.09
27.27
20.00
20.00
16.28
60.16
Phosphorus (mg)
30.00
31.82
36.36
60.00
36.00
51.16
89.84
Potassium (mg)
145.00
131.82
181.82
330.00
276.00
418.60
370.31
Sodium (mg)
5.00
13.64
18.18
10.00
16.00
53.49
93.75
Zinc (mg)
0.18
0.23
0.14
0.40
0.40
0.21
0.49
Copper (mg)
0.04
0.02
0.12
0.09
0.08
0.07
0.23
Manganese (mg)
0.13
0.10
0.49
0.29
0.16
0.19
0.26
Selenium (mcg)
0.50
 
0.91
1.00
0.40
0.70
0.23
Fatty Acids
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Saturated Fat (g)
0.04
1.46
0.04
0.02
0.03
 
0.04
Monounsaturated Fat (g)
0.01
2.16
0.00
0.01
0.03
 
0.00
Polyunsaturated Fat (g)
0.02
5.41
0.17
0.04
0.07
 
0.06

© 2012 Dr. John Anderson

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Comments 3 comments

unknown spy profile image

unknown spy 4 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

i love to eat onions especially on pizzas and on beef recipes..the raw one put on the top of the dish.


BlissfulWriter profile image

BlissfulWriter 3 years ago

Onions are great for the body's detoxification system. The body needs the sulfur atom in them to make glutathione, the body's main detoxification and antioxidant molecule.


hotwebideas profile image

hotwebideas 2 years ago from New York

You said onions contain vitamins A, C, and E. I did not know that, so it is nice to learn something new about onions, because I am always adding onions to everything including my hamburgers and sandwiches,

Let me ask you something: What about fried or caramelized onions? Do they have the same nutrition?

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