Nutritional Information for Onions

This pungent vegetable is part of the Allium family and contains potent cancer fighting compounds. The red onion may be the healthiest variety of onion based on its brightly colored purplish-red phytonutrient compounds.

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Benefits of Onions

Cancer Prevention Benefits

Consuming onions and other allium veggies (garlic, shallots, leeks) may reduce the odds of developing prostate cancer. Garlic appears more potent, but there is no reason to go shy on the onions.

A large set of data from European population studies has found some associations with allium vegetable intake and the risk of various cancers. Apparently, eating more allium vegetables may reduce the odds of developing cancers of the prostate, mouth, throat, breast, ovaries, colon, rectum and kidneys.

Women who ate onions during chemotherapy for breast cancer were shown to have lower tumor markers.

Men's Health Benefits

Onions and garlic have been shown to help men reduce prostate enlargement, known as benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH). Onions have have also been known to help reduce cholesterol and blood pressure in obese patients. So there may be some heart healthy benefits to eating more onions.  

Onions and garlic have the ability to enhance the absorption of minerals like iron and zinc. It’s a good idea to add onions and garlic to whole grains, beans, and other foods containing phytates – non-nutritive substances that are health promoting but tend to block absorption of certain minerals.

Onions may help neutralize the impact of environmental toxins. Take dioxins for example, a large group of toxins found in the environment that can get into the food supply. One tablespoon of red onions was found to cut dioxin exposure in half.

Ways to Use Onions

+ Add cooked or raw onions salads, burritos, sandwiches.

+ Toss into soups, stir fry, curries.

+ Roast or sauté onions to make them caramelized.

+ Grill onions with other veggies, such as peppers, zucchini, mushrooms.

+ Add raw onions to homemade salsas and guacamole.

Resources for Onions

American Institute for Cancer Research: www.aicr.org

Nutrition Facts: www.nutritionfacts.org

Physicians Committee: www.pcrm.org

USDA Nutrient Database: Onion

Citations
  1. Ashida H, Fukuda I, Yamashita T, Kanazawa K.Flavones and flavonols at dietary levels inhibit a transformation of aryl hydrocarbon receptor induced by dioxin. FEBS Lett. 2000;476(3):213-7.
  2. Zhou XF, Ding ZS, Liu NB..Allium vegetables and risk of prostate cancer: evidence from 132,192 subjects. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2013;14(7):4131-4.
  3. Lau KK, Chan YH, Wong YK, et al. Garlic intake is an independent predictor of endothelial function in patients with ischemic stroke. J Nutr Health Aging. 2013;17(7):600-4.
  4. Hubbard GP, Wolffram S, de Vos R, Bovy A, Gibbins JM, Lovegrove JA. Ingestion of onion soup high in quercetin inhibits platelet aggregation and essential components of the collagen-stimulated platelet activation pathway in man: a pilot study.Br J Nutr. 2006;96(3):482-8.
  5. Cavagnaro PF, Galmarini CR. Effect of processing and cooking conditions on onion (Allium cepa L.) induced antiplatelet activity and thiosulfinate content. J Agric Food Chem. 2012;60(35):8731-7.
  6. Ali M, Bordia T, Mustafa T.Effect of raw versus boiled aqueous extract of garlic and onion on platelet aggregation. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 1999;60(1):43-7.
  7. Gautam S, Platel K, Srinivasan K.Higher bioaccessibility of iron and zinc from food grains in the presence of garlic and onion. J Agric Food Chem. 2010;58(14):8426-9.
  8. Galeone C, Pelucchi C, Levi F, et al. Onion and garlic use and human cancer. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;84(5):1027-32.
  9. Jafarpour-Sadegh F, Montazeri V, Adili A, et al. Effects of Fresh Yellow Onion Consumption on CEA, CA125 and Hepatic Enzymes in Breast Cancer Patients: A Double- Blind Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2015;16(17):7517-22.
  10. Brüll V, Burak C, Stoffel-Wagner B, et al. Effects of a quercetin-rich onion skin extract on 24 h ambulatory blood pressure and endothelial function in overweight-to-obese patients with (pre-)hypertension: a randomised double-blinded placebo-controlled cross-over trial. Br J Nutr. 2015;114(8):1263-77.

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