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Onion - How Healthy are Onions?

Updated on December 10, 2010

How Healthy are Onions?

Onions are a big part of the diet in most countries, eaten both raw, and cooked in a variety of ways. What's in an onion - how healthy are onions in our diets?

Some people have trouble cutting and slicing onions, causing them to 'cry' or at least irritating their eyes. This is caused by the sulphur compounds in onions, also present in garlic, and other allium (lily family) vegetables, such as leeks and chives.

These sulphur compounds, although irritating and odorous, actually contain the antimicrobial elements that fight bacteria, including E. coli and salmonella bacteria.

Onions have many of the same properties as garlic, although not such high levels.


Very Healthy
Very Healthy

Onion Health

Onions are very effective against cold symptoms, coughs and asthma, as well as helping with insomnia, and repelling insects.

An open jar containing an onion, left beside the bed, will help with breathing, relaxation, and restful sleep as well as reducing snoring, wheezing and coughing. With the added benefit of keeping insects at bay!

The stronger tasting onions have a higher nutrient content than the sweeter, smoother tasting type. Shallots have proved to be the most health giving type of onion, having up to 6 times more of the health giving components than other onions.

The oligomers in onions help the growth of healthy bifidobacteria and fight harmful bacteria, especially in the colon, and help reduce the risk of tumours, and colon and stomach cancer.

Onions are rich in flavonoids, which protect against cardiovascular disease, and their sulphur content also helps prevent clumping of platelets.

Onions are helpful in lowering the risk of blood clots, which makes them useful in fighting cardiovascular disease.

These pungent vegetables are rich in vitamin C, making them helpful with fighting colds, and also in chromium, helping cells respond to insulin, and lowering blood sugars.

Onions are also active in keeping levels of cholesterol and triglycerides balanced, increasing the good HDL, and decreasing LDL levels, thus preventing arteriosclerosis, heart attack and stroke.

Regular consumption of onion, like its cousin the garlic, will greatly reduce the risk of cancer in various forms, including: larynx, pharynx, oesophagus, oral cavity, breast, ovaries, prostate, renal, colon and stomach.

Onions rival milk for maintaining bone health, making them especially beneficial for women, particularly at menopausal age, to prevent osteoporosis.

Apart from their vitamin C content, onions have chromium, dietary fibre, manganese, vitamins A and B6, folate, potassium, molybdenum, copper, phosphorus, calcium and iron.

Onion is known to be a powerful antiseptic, and an onion paste was widely used in World War II to help close wounds and ease pain.

The many functions of the onion include:


Because of its high content of iron, the onion is extremely helpful in the treatment of anaemia


Just one small onion a day, makes a big difference to cholesterol levels, so helping to prevent heart disease.


The natural anti-inflammatory in onions help to relieve symptoms in arthritis and gout, among other inflammatory diseases.


A natural antiseptic, onion fights bacteria in the digestive system, including E. coli and salmonella, as well as bacteria in the respiratory system, making it effective against tuberculosis bronchitis etc. Onion is also effective against infections of the urinary tract (UTIs) including cystitis.

For treating UTIs, boil some onion in water, let the water reduce by about half, strain and leave to cool. Drunk cold, this will help relieve irritation and burning.

Blood Pressure and Cholesterol

Both raw and cooked onions help in lowering BP, as well as thinning blood, dissolving clots, and clearing fats, cholesterol and triglycerides from the bloodstream.


Apart from helping prevent cancer in the stomach and colon, will also relieve constipation and flatulence. Helpful in most stomach problems, in fact.


Some cultures use onion juice on cotton wool to help against tinnitis, or 'ringing' in the ear.

Onion juice has also been claimed to promote hair growth, when applied to the scalp, although this has not been proven.


Onions have proved helpful in strengthening of bones, and the prevention of bone breakdown.


Onion juice mixed with honey helps to break down mucus, thus helping against coughs and colds, and respiratory problems. Also useful in fighting infection, reduce fever, and other flu symptoms. This mixture is particularly helpful with asthma, taken three or four times a day will help to stave off attacks.

Many people who find onions irritate their eyes, will run them under cold water to cut them, but this can wash away a lot of the benefits. Better to chill onions in the fridge, or a couple of minutes in the freezer, before cutting, and use a very sharp knife which will cut through with less 'squirting'.

So in answer to the question "how healthy are onions?" The response is "Extremely! Very! Amazingly!"

Like anything else, they are much more beneficial in their raw state, but still retain their goodness when cooked, provided you don't overcook. Many people cannot take raw onions to their system, for whatever reason, but lightly cooking is okay. Cooking them until they are soft and opaque, they are still beneficial. Fried until brown and starting to crisp, they've lost a lot. Adding them to stews and soups is fine as the nutrients remain in the dish.

Add onions to your diet as often as you can, and reap the benefits. You will find the way that you like best to eat them, and you are only doing your body good.


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    • dianew profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Spain

      thanks again for reading and commenting Tony. I always cling wrap or ziplock bag any extra onion, but never keep it more than one day. I usually cut the onion in half and only peel one half if I'm not going to use it all.

      I also know that if the onion starts to discolour on the outer layer under the skin, the whole onion should be discarded.

      I also make a lot of curry by the way.

      many thanx Diane

    • tonymead60 profile image

      Tony Mead 

      7 years ago from Yorkshire


      being a curry fan i use onions by the sackful, but I also love them raw in a salad. I make a mean onion soup too.

      Great, interesting hub very helpful advice and interesting facts.

      I once heard that you should not use an onion that has been peeled for several hours, because they are so good at grabing bugs from the air they can actually become a little bit toxic. Maybe you know about this?

      voted up and bits and bobs.



    • profile image

      Ogunlola Lizzy 

      8 years ago

      Wao dz true luv it so much, i never lovd onion b4 buh nw i so much cherish it. I can cook 2 cupz of rice wt four large onion,2 whyl frying my ingredient and 2 after d fud has bn done. And it makes me feel so reliev. 4 doz interestd in weight loss onion is a diuretic veggie whch help in water weight los.tnx

    • dianew profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Spain

      Thanks Rajan I too love to eat raw onion.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      8 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      dianew, good information here on onions. In India, onions form the base for almost all the vegetables that are cooked. I try to eat a little raw onion whenever possible. One thing I have noticed is that eating raw onion at night brings on good sleep.

      Good hub. thanks for sharing.

    • dianew profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Spain

      You're welcome rey and thanks for the comment. I hope you both sleep better.

    • profile image

      rey colinares 

      8 years ago

      thanks for the imformation about onoins iwill try this coz my wife cannot sleep well she was snoring everyninght

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      thank's for your information about Union, before i hate them but after read above information that i understand useful union for human

    • dianew profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Spain

      Thanks for the comments and welcome to hubpages

    • conradofontanilla profile image


      9 years ago from Philippines

      Dianew, applying heat on onion destroy its enzymes and lessens its potency as remedy for some ailments. Propenylsulphenic acid is the lachrimatory content of onion. It is unstable, volatile and irritating to the eyes, as we all know. I also have a Hub "Tears Over Onion are Worth the Remedies It Gives for Cancer and More."

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      ilove love love them thanks for the info it was better than a exspected thanks.

    • dianew profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Spain

      good point, thanx

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      You have made some very interesting claims; it would be helpful if you could provide references for them, particularly those where you mention specific diseases.

    • dianew profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Spain

      Thank You. I'm fascinated by the benefits in so many foods.

      I prefer to consult Mother nature before a Doctor!

    • easylearningweb profile image

      Amelia Griggs 

      10 years ago from U.S.

      This was a very informative hub! I had no idea that onions had so many benefits. Thanks for the helpful info. :-)


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