The humble onion. It’s aromatic, it can be prepared in a multitude of ways, and it’s simply delicious. The good news for everyone who loves onion is that it’s also full of healthy compounds that make it great for your health.
Onions can be eaten raw. They can be cooked until they are golden and wonderfully caramelized. They can be sauteed, skewered, blended, and so much more. There are even a variety of different types. One thing remains consistent, however, and that’s just how much oomph they add to any dish.
While they can and are eaten around the year, there’s something particularly cozy about an onion-based dish during the fall and winter months. Onion soup, deep-fried onion rings, and roasts all come to mind, and all are wonderful dishes to have throughout the colder, darker months of winter.
If you’ve ever wondered what one of your favorite ingredients can do for your health, then look no further. These top five health benefits are just the reason you need to start eating more onions this year.
Health Benefits of the Small But Mighty Onion
Onions are an incredibly nutrient-rich root vegetable that’s hardy and a staple in many cuisines around the world. While the exact amount of nutrients will vary depending on the variety of onion you’ve got in your hands, all of them generally offer these top five health benefits:
Boost Your Antioxidant Intake
Antioxidants work to protect your body from cell damage. They do this by counteracting free radicals, which are an unstable molecule in the body that, if left unchecked, can lead to a host of issues from chronic disease all the way to cancer. While eating onions won’t completely protect you from cancer or other serious issues, it can lower your risk.
Your body needs potassium to support bone health. Onions are an excellent source of that potassium. Potassium also works to regulate and, in some cases, lower blood pressure. As a bonus, potassium is also one of those compounds that helps you regulate how much fluid you have in your body, which is why it’s often added to sports drinks. With an onion-rich diet, you can feel better, support your bone health, and get your essential dose of potassium all at once.
Gut Happy Roots
Onions contain prebiotics, which are a wonderful addition to anyone’s gut health. You don’t need to take supplements to help support your digestive system; you just need to add foods that naturally contain those pre and probiotics. Keep in mind that pickled foods also contain probiotics, so if you pickle your onions and add them to your dishes, you can get a full course of pre and probiotics all at once, which can ensure your gut maintains a healthy microbiome.
As onions contain antibacterial compounds, they actually work to help fight off infections. An onion-rich diet can’t do it all on its own, but if you’re recovering from an infection, eating foods rich in onion alongside your antibiotics can help you naturally recover more swiftly.
Heart Happy Ingredient
Onions have organosulfur, quercetin, and anthocyanin compounds, which are all ingredients that have been linked to happy heart health. They work to lower cholesterol and blood pressure and can even help reduce the risk of blood clots. Together, all those compounds work to lower your risk of many cardiac conditions by ensuring your cardiovascular system works like a dream. Combined with an otherwise healthy diet and regular exercise, you can build up a healthy heart in no time.
What About Dried Onion?
Dried onions also contain many of the same health benefits as their fresh counterparts! This is great news for everyone. You can buy bulk onions in powder, dried, granule, or other forms and have them keep for so much longer. As they’re in powder form, you can even add the onion flavor, smell, and health benefits to your dishes in pre-mixed spice packets. Buy in big enough bulk, and you can sell those onions.
Dried onion changes the game when it comes to adding onion flavor to your dishes. It can be easily added to soups, sauces, and even to one-pot dishes to deepen the flavor and expand the nutritional benefits.
Going with dried is so useful for those with minimal cooking time or energy. Chopping and prepping onions takes time, so if you don’t have that, switch to dried to recreate the experience in far less time.
How to Easily Add More Onions to Your Diet
Onions are a tasty addition to many meals. Unlike some other aromatics and taste-boosters, they’re also full of healthy compounds, nutrients, antioxidants, and biotics. There are also so many ways to add more onion to your diet.
Fresh Chopped Onions
Want a crunch? Dice your onions into small cubes or in thin slices to add them to a host of dishes, from sandwiches to salads and wraps. The sharp taste adds a great kick of flavor to your dish, and the crunch can really help diversify the texture profile of your meal.
Sauteed or Caramelized Onions
If you don’t want that sharp taste, then sauté them. Cooking onions, especially caramelizing them, softens and deepens the flavor and pulls out the natural sugars in the onion so that that flavor takes center stage. These are perfect for adding to meat dishes, or even mushroom or tofu for the vegetarian and vegans, as it draws out savory, rich flavors of other foods.
Soup it Up
One of the best things you can do with onion is to create a soup out of it. You can make your own onion soup, or you can add onion to a host of different soups to add flavor and a natural sweetness. Since onions soften, they’re great left whole or blended up.
Pickle Your Onion
Pickling is a great way to add probiotics and a sharp kick of flavor to your dishes. Pickled onions are typically used as a garnish or in sandwiches or wraps to add flavor. You can either buy pickled onions at the store or have a go at pickling onions yourself right at home.