Onions have been prized for their medicinal properties since ancient times. 1 They boast a high nutritional content, numerous health benefits, and can be versatile–useful in many different types of recipes. Here are our top reasons to add more onions to your diet.
The Health Benefits of Onions
High Vitamin Content
Onions are a good source of a number of vitamins, including vitamin C, folate, and vitamin B6. 2 Vitamin C is important for immune function and helps protect the body against harmful free radicals. 3 Folate is essential for various body processes, including DNA synthesis and repair, cell growth, and the maturation of red blood cells. 4 It is particularly important for people who are pregnant to ensure that they are getting sufficient folate because it is crucial for healthy fetal development. 5 Vitamin B6 plays an important role in red blood cell production, nerve function, and metabolism. 6
May Reduce Heart Disease Risk Factors
Eating a diet rich in onions may help to reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Onions contain quercetin, a powerful anti-inflammatory which may reduce high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease. 7 In one study, participants with high blood pressure were given 162 mg of quercetin-rich onion extract daily over the course of six weeks, while a control group was given a placebo. By the end of the study, the participants who took the onion extract had significantly lower blood pressure compared to the control group. 8
Good Source of Antioxidants
Antioxidants are molecules that protect your body by fighting harmful free radicals. Antioxidants may help to slow the aging process and reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer. 9 Onions are an excellent source of these, containing 17 different antioxidants. 10 Red onions in particular contain anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant found in the plant pigments responsible for giving red onions their distinctive color. Consuming an anthocyanin-rich diet has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. 11 12
This dish uses classic ratatouille vegetables and transforms them into a one-pot wonder. Use it as a light meal with some whole-grain bread, as a ragu for pasta or polenta, or as a side for a meat dish. Be creative and add your favorite seasonal veggies.
Recipe courtesy of Bastyr University.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 24-ounce can organic diced tomatoes
- 1 yellow or red onion, medium dice
- 1 small eggplant, medium dice
- 1 medium zucchini, medium dice
- 1 red bell pepper, medium dice
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 thyme sprigs or 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 rosemary sprig or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Crushed black pepper
- ½ cup fresh basil, chiffonade
*Source organic vegetables when possible
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In an oven-proof baking casserole dish with a lid, add olive oil and half of the canned tomatoes. Layer the diced vegetables, garlic, herbs, and half the salt and pepper in the dish. Cover with the remaining canned tomatoes, and add the rest of the salt and pepper.
Cover the dish and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, mix gently, remove the lid and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes. Mix in fresh basil and serve.
Prep time: 40 minutes.
Makes 6 servings.