health benefits of onions

Top 10 health benefits of onions and why eat onions

Onions are not just meant to spice up your meals. It may interest you to know that there are a lot of health benefits of onions that you should be aware of so as to consider adding them to your meals as and when necessary.

Onions, what are they?

Also referred to as bulb onions, they are one of the oldest and most popular vegetables in the world. They are a member of the allium family which consists of other popular vegetables such as garlic, shallots and leeks. Onions have a pungent smell when chopped and also irritate the eyes (making them watery in most cases). 

This is as a result of onions releasing a chemical liquid called “syn-Propanethial-S-oxide” in an aerosol manner which stimulates the nerves in the eye. Thus, the lacrimal glands in the eye produce tears to flush out the chemical. The irritation of the eye can however be avoided by submerging them in water before cutting them.

Onions are mostly cooked with other food items and can be eaten raw too. They are delicate in nature and can easily go bad when not stored or preserved properly. To prolong the lifespan of onions, they need to be stored in a dry, cool well-ventilated environment or area. 

This can help prolong their life span for up to four weeks. Onions provide many health benefits and they have the bonus of having nutritional content.

This article will throw more light on the health benefits of onions and why people should eat them

What are the health benefits of onions?

1.   Onions contain vitamins and minerals

Onions are densely packed with vitamins and minerals. Vitamins and minerals are nutrients that the body needs in small amounts to function effectively. Vitamin C, a nutrient responsible for tissue repair in the body, is present in onions. Onions also contain vitamin b which plays a key role in red blood cell production.

The mineral potassium which also plays a key role in the functions of the heart, nerves, muscles, as well as kidneys, can also be found in onions.

2.    Helps prevent heart-related diseases

Onions contain compounds and antioxidants that combat inflammation, high blood pressure and lower cholesterol levels which in turn greatly reduces the risk of heart-related diseases. They are low in calories.

The compound allicin, which can avert LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol (which is also known as bad cholesterol) is present in onions. In addition, onions have quercetin. A flavonoid antioxidant that is highly concentrated in onions.

3.   Onions have anti-cancer characteristics

Vegetables of the Allium genus (garlic, onions, shallots) contain compounds that can constrain cancerous cells and prevent or block tumour generation.

Studies have shown that people who consumed the highest amount of allium vegetables were 22% less likely to be diagnosed with stomach cancer than those who consumed the least amount. 

4.     Helps control blood sugar

Controlling blood sugar in the body is a health measure that everyone has to take seriously, especially diabetic people. Eating onions can help control blood sugar. This is because specific compounds found in onions (quercetin and sulfur compounds) have antidiabetic effects. Therefore, consuming onions can help reduce people’s blood sugar. 

5.    Improves bone density

Aside from dairy, foods such as onions support strong bones and boost bone health in general. Due to their antioxidant properties, which lowers oxidative stress, increase antioxidant levels and decreases bone loss. This helps prevent bone-related diseases such as osteoporosis.

6.      Antibacterial properties

The extracts of onions can fight against dangerous bacteria such as E. Coli, Salmonella, Bacillus cereus, amongst other bacteria. In addition, the extracts of onions have been shown to prevent the growth of the bacterium “Vibrio cholerae”. This bacterium is the main cause of cholera disease.

7.      Protects your food

The antibacterial properties of onions can kill bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Some of these food poisoning bacteria include Salmonella and E. coli. So, the inclusion of onions in one’s food reduces the risk of food poisoning.

8.      Supports gut health

The gut, also known as the gastrointestinal tract, is a long tube that starts at the mouth and ends at the anus. The gut plays an important role in the body. It helps control digestion in the human body. Fibre, a type of carbohydrate, is a prerequisite for maintaining good gut health. Onions are rich in fibre and so consuming onions can help support good gut health.

9.      Improves sexual health

According to a study published in the journal Biomolecules, eating onions helps people suffering from erectile dysfunction. Onions also help in increasing the testosterone level in men.

10.  Good for people with respiratory problems

Allergies are a common factor when it comes to respiratory problems and onions contain anti-allergen. Eating onions is recommended to people with respiratory problems because onions can relax the muscles of the isolated trachea. This helps people with asthma breathe easily.

Potential side effects of eating onions

It is highly recommended that people should consume onions or at least add onions to their diet. The intake of onions should not be abused because too much consumption of onions can cause constipation, cause gastrointestinal distress and even diarrhoea. The health benefits of onions are so many that this article cannot cover all the health benefits that onions have to offer.

However, this article seeks to encourage you to include onions in your diet and here are the reasons why. 

Health benefits of onions
Onions have a lot of health benefits

Why should I eat onions?

Below are some of the reasons why we should eat onions.

  1. Onions are good for people with respiratory problems. People suffering from respiratory problems such as asthma, pneumonia, lung cancer, etc. are encouraged to eat onions. Most respiratory diseases contract the muscles around the trachea, making it difficult to breathe. Onions can relax the muscles around the trachea when one is under duress, thus making breathing easier.
  1.  Another reason why you should eat onions is that it improves one’s vision. Onions contain selenium which produces vitamin E. This helps to prevent eye pain.
  1. Healthy hair is another reason why one should eat onions. With its antibacterial properties, the consumption of onions helps to keep dandruff and lice away from the scalp.
  1.  Eating onions helps in easing menopause symptoms. According to a study published in the Journal of Breast Cancer, eating raw onion helps in easing postmenopausal symptoms due to the presence of calcium.
  1.   One of the reasons why we should eat onions is because it improves our skin. Onions have vitamins A, C and K which protect our skin from UV rays and also remove skin pigmentation.

    Michael Sarfo
    Content Creator at Wapomu

    Michael Sarfo is a graduate of the University of Ghana, Legon. He is a content creator for and a writer for Wapomu

    Dr. Ehoneah Obed is a registered pharmacist and a member of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana. He has a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and has experience working in a Tertiary hospital as well as various community pharmacies. He is also a software engineer interested in healthcare technologies.

    His love for helping others motivates him to create content on an array of topics mostly relating to the health of people and also software engineering content.

    He is knowledgeable in digital marketing, content marketing, and a host of other skills that make him versatile enough to uplift any team he joins.

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