Onion a Superfood? Everything You Need to Know About This Unsung Hero

Onions are one of humanity’s oldest crops. We’ve been using them to add a punch of flavor to our lives for thousands of years. There’s even evidence that onions were harvested for human consumption upwards of five thousand years ago!

That means onions have been around and alongside humans throughout much of civilization, which is why it’s no wonder that onions are used in dishes all around the world today, and in so many different ways.

Onion a Superfood 1

Their Versatility

You can eat them raw for a bite of flavor. You can cook them slowly to caramelize them and bring out their natural sweetness. You can fry them up to add a bit of charred, smokey taste. Then, of course, you can also pickle them for that sharp, acidic flavor that’s essential to so many different dishes.

The sheer fact that we can use onions in every meal of the day, including dessert, is astonishing. Onions are as great a jam as they are an addition to the saltiest, most savory foods.

You can eat them fresh, cooked, jarred, and even as a spice.

Dried chopped onion is a fast and efficient way for everyone, from home cooks to caterers, to add that essential flavor to almost any meal. In fact, dried onion spices are a staple to many mixes.

Food companies, from restaurants to caterers to even spice mix brands, will buy quality dried chopped onion in bulk to mix it into their own custom spice mix to add depth to the flavor profile.

It comes to absolutely no one’s shock that onions taste good or that their taste profile can be adapted to suit a variety of different dishes. What may come as a shock is that this staple food can actually be considered something of a superfood.

What many of us think when we hear superfood are rather exotic ingredients like spirulina. Even the more everyday options like green tea or blueberries seem more obvious to us because they’re celebrated so readily online.

Yet, the humble onion is often left in the dust. It shouldn’t. The sheer fact that onions (and the rest of the Allium family) are used by cultures around the world to add flavor and enhance meals is already incredible. The additional health benefits you’ll get from onions are just the cherry on top.

Onions are Full of Vitamin C

While onions aren’t going to be winning any contests in terms of vitamin C content when you pit them against citrus fruits like oranges, that doesn’t mean they’re not still a great source of this ever-important vitamin.

Vitamin C plays a huge role in your recovery, regardless of whether that recovery is from a virus, an infection, or a wound. Yes, oranges are going to be your primary source of vitamin C, but when you’re sick of citrus and want something more savory to add to your sick-meal roster, look to onions.

They’re a Great Source of Potassium

Potassium is another essential nutrient that helps to lower blood pressure and is great for those looking to improve their heart health. As an essential mineral, it’s important that you get multiple sources throughout the day.

Bananas, yes are a great source of potassium, but once again not usually an ingredient frequent in savory meals. A whole onion added to your dish can add a lot of great flavors while also giving your body a much-needed hit of potassium.

Find it Full of Folate

Folate is a water-soluble B vitamin (vitamin B9, to be specific), and onions are full of it. This vitamin is essential for cell growth and can also help your metabolism.

In short, eating onions can be great for your gut health, doubly so if they’re fermented or pickled in any way, as they’ll contain even more probiotics as a result.

Red Blood Cell Friendly

Another B vitamin you’ll find in onions is B6. This vitamin plays a critical role in the formation and cleaning so your red blood cells.

These cells form in your bone marrow and live for approximately 170 or so days before they are recycled in your system. They’re responsible for delivering oxygen to your body issue, which is a huge role. Ingesting vitamin B6 helps your body produce more healthy red blood cells, so you, in turn, can lead a healthy life.

Onions are high in vitamin B6 as well, making them a great option for your heart, blood, and overall health.

They’re a Natural Antioxidant

Onions also contain sulfur and antioxidant compounds that can help do things like reduce cholesterol and blood pressure. All types of onions contain quercetin, which is a huge player in blood pressure reduction and plays a key role in heart health.

In many countries, onions are the primary source of this quercetin, making it one very important ingredient indeed.

Onions also contain sulfides (the ingredient that makes you cry when you cut into them). Crying aside, those sulfides have also been shown to play a role in protecting against cancer, making them a great addition to your diet.

Another sulfur-containing compound found in onions is known as thiosulfate, which works to stop harmful microorganisms from growing. This compound also helps reduce the risk of blood clots from forming.

Red and Yellow Onions are Richer in Vitamins

When it comes to which type of onions, look for color. The color indicates the onion is richer in these antioxidants, to the point where a yellow onion typically contains almost 11x the antioxidants in comparison to white onions.

Types of Health Benefits You Can Expect from Onions

These nutrients and vitamins all mean that onions can help you lower blood sugar levels and even regulate those levels better. Onions are also great for bone health and may even help protect against cancer.

Like all foods, they aren’t for everyone. You may be sensitive to onions, for example, at which point you’ll want to seek out these vitamins and nutrients from alternative sources.

If onions are a green light for your gut, however, then they’re a common superfood you’re free to add to every meal to add a punch of rich, luxurious flavor.

Julie Higgins
Julie is a Staff Writer at momooze.com. She has been working in publishing houses before joining the editorial team at momooze. Julie's love and passion are topics around beauty, lifestyle, hair and nails.