Are Onions Good for You? Onions tend to be one of those polarizing foods—either you love the fact that their flavor 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 everything, from salads to burgers. But because they’re literally everywhere, it’s very easy for the paranoid lizard part of your brain to wonder, uh, are onions even good for you? (Usually at 2 a.m. when you’re trying to sleep.)
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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 fiber
- 7 g sugar
- 6 mg sodium
Clearly low in cals and decently high in fiber, Bonnie Taub-Dix, R.D.N., creator of BetterThanDieting.com 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 help reduce cancer risk and can help you live longer. Red onions, in particular, have the most antioxidants (particularly cancer-killing 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. That all sounds…pretty damn good to me.
Are there any downsides?
So yeah, onions are pretty damn healthy. And delicious…so delicious. But the whole crying-when-you-cut-them thing is not fun. 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. (And maybe put on some waterproof mascara, says Taub-Dix.)
Also, onions can actually cause gas and bloating, says Taub-Dix, or even nausea, diarrhea, 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.)
So should I keep eating them?
Yas. If your bod can tolerate it (and you don’t mind occasional meal-prep tears), go for it. Just brush your teeth after eating if you have any makeout plans in your near future.