Leeks, shallots, garlic, and onions are all botanical members of the Lilac family (Liliaceae). Even though they are not as prized as garlic, onions have strong chemicals recognized as good for your health.
Whether they are consumed raw, sautéed, baked, steamed, or boiled, onions are the foundation of a wide range of meals. Are onions good for gut health? Let’s explore the truth.
A good reason is that onions are a culinary staple used in many meals. You should consider including more onions in your diet if your health is concerned. Consuming onions benefits your heart health since they contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory qualities. They also have a terrific flavor and are pretty nutritious.
Hippocrates famously remarked, “All disease begins in the gut,” more than two thousand years ago. This statement contains a lot of wisdom, even though it could be more accurate. Our bodies’ bacteria and other living things provide various functions besides just aiding digestion. Our gut contains between 70 and 90 percent of our immune system.
The Importance of Gut Health
A growing body of evidence shows that having a healthy gut microbiome can help with weight loss, weight maintenance, and the prevention of chronic conditions like diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and neurological disorders. But, if our gut microbiota is unhealthy, we are more likely to develop a variety of ailments.
Scientists believe that illnesses go beyond simple physical problems and that a healthy gut flora can help with various mental health symptoms. The study supports the idea that the richness and complexity of the bacteria that reside in our gut, or microbiome, may have a role in various human health conditions.
The community of bacteria and other microbes living in our gut is the “complex gut microbiota” and includes both beneficial and dangerous bacteria. In our intestines, particularly the large intestine, over 100 trillion bacteria, and other germs reside.
Our gut’s microbiome can keep us healthy and stave off disease if appropriately balanced. The research focuses on chronic illnesses’ origins and the relationship between nutrition and health. Scientists are beginning to believe that our stomachs and what we feed them—or don’t feed it—may hold the key.
A heavy diet badly impacts our gut flora in refined, highly processed foods, antibiotic use, and several environmental conditions. In contrast, a diet high in fiber from plants and some fermented foods feeds healthy bacteria and restores the balance of our microbiome.
Researchers advise fiber-rich meals to strengthen the beneficial probiotic bacteria in our bellies and support a healthy gut. In particular, celery, apples, onions, leeks, chicory roots, and beans are some of the greatest probiotic foods. Fiber is important for human health for a variety of reasons.
Without it, the microbiota will feed on the thin layer of mucus that covers our intestinal lining, which could result in a “leaky gut” or other health issues. Polyphenols found in seeds, nuts, and extra virgin olive oil appear to be advantageous to the microbes in our digestive tract.
The Nutritional Composition Of Onions
An 80g portion of raw onion contains the following nutrients:
- 28kcal / 120kj
- Protein – 0.8g
- Carbohydrate – 6.4g
- Sugars – 5.0g
- Fiber – 1.8g
- Vitamin C – 2.0mg
Are Onions Good for Gut Health?
Onions are a nutrient-rich vegetable that offer many health benefits. One of the key nutrients in onions is fiber, which is essential for proper digestive function. In addition to fiber, onions also contain prebiotics.
Prebiotics are nondigestible carbohydrates that serve as food for beneficial gut bacteria. When gut bacteria break down prebiotics, they produce short-chain fatty acids like acetate, propionate and butyrate. These short-chain fatty acids have been linked to a number of health benefits, including improved digestion, reduced inflammation and strengthened immunity.
Therefore, including onions in your diet can help to promote optimal gut health.
Onions might make you cry, but they can actually be good for your health. This pungent vegetable is particularly rich in prebiotics, which are a type of dietary fiber that help to promote the growth of friendly bacteria in the gut.
In addition to improving digestive function, prebiotics have also been shown to boost immunity and reduce inflammation. One study even found that inulin, a type of prebiotic found in onions, helped to increase the number of beneficial Bifidobacteria in the gut and reduced symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
So next time when cooking the onions, remember not only will they add flavor to your meal, but they may also help improve your overall health.
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Other Health Benefits of Onion
You want to take advantage of the many essential and unexpected health benefits that onions can provide for your body. We list just eight potential consequences of eating onions for your health below.
Full with Nutrients
Since onions are nutrient-dense foods, they have a low-calorie count and a high vitamin and mineral content. Although a medium onion only has 44 calories, it is an excellent source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. This crop is rich in vitamin C, an element necessary for supporting immune system health, collagen formation, tissue repair, and iron absorption.
Furthermore, vitamin C is a potent antioxidant in your body, protecting your cells from damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals.
Additionally, onions are a good source of B vitamins, including pyridoxine (B6) and folate (B9), which are crucial for producing red blood cells and neurological and metabolic processes. Last but not least, they have potassium, an essential vitamin for many people.
Americans only consume slightly more potassium on average than the 4,700 mg DV. Potassium is essential for healthy cellular activity, fluid balance, nerve conduction, renal function, and muscle contraction.
Might Be Beneficial for Heart Wellness
Anti-inflammatory, triglyceride, cholesterol-lowering antioxidants, and other compounds found in onions may reduce the risk of heart disease. They may help reduce blood pressure and avoid blood clots due to their potent anti-inflammatory properties.
Onions contain significant amounts of the antioxidant flavonoid quercetin. Lowering risk factors for heart disease, like high blood pressure, may help with its powerful anti-inflammatory capabilities.
It has also been demonstrated that onions lower cholesterol. In comparison to a control group, eating a lot of raw red onions for eight weeks—40–50 grams per day for overweight people and 50–60 grams per day for obese people—lowered total and “bad” LDL cholesterol in 54 women with the polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
Additionally, research on animals indicates that consuming onions may reduce the chance of developing heart disease by reducing factors including inflammation, high triglyceride levels, and blood clot formation.
Rich in antioxidants
Antioxidants are compounds that stop oxidation, which harms cells and contributes to diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Onions are a fantastic antioxidant source. They include roughly 25 different types of flavonoid antioxidants in total.
Red onions have a vivid color because of anthocyanins, distinctive plant pigments from the flavonoid family.
Numerous population studies have shown that those who consume more foods high in anthocyanins have a lower risk of getting heart disease.
For example, a study involving 43,880 males discovered a link between routine consumption of anthocyanins of up to 613 mg per day and a 14% lower incidence of nonfatal heart attacks.
In a similar line, a study of 93,600 women discovered that those who ate the most foods high in anthocyanins had a 32% lower chance of having a heart attack than those who ate the least. Several malignancies and diabetes have been demonstrated to be resistant to anthocyanins.
Add cancer-fighting substances
Allium genus foods, such as garlic and onions, have been linked to a lower risk of numerous colorectal and stomach cancers. Those who consume the most allium vegetables have a 22% lower risk of acquiring stomach cancer than those who consume the least, per an analysis of 26 studies.
An analysis of 16 studies with 13,333 participants found that those who consumed the most onions had a 15% lower risk of colon cancer than those who consumed the fewest.
Allium vegetables’ antioxidant sulfur compounds and flavonoid molecules have been linked to these anti-cancer properties.
In test-tube studies, it has been shown that a sulfur-containing compound found in onions can inhibit tumor development and stop the spread of lung and ovarian cancer. The flavonoid antioxidants quercetin and fisetin, which are also present in onions, may inhibit the formation of cancers.
Support for blood sugar control
Anyone with diabetes or prediabetes should manage their blood sugar, which may be made more accessible by eating onions.
3.5 ounces (100 grams) of fresh red onion was consumed after four hours in a study including 42 people with type 2 diabetes, and this reduced fasting blood sugar levels by about 40 mg/dl.
Additionally, several studies on animals have indicated that consuming onions may aid in controlling blood sugar.
An experiment found that diabetic rats with a diet containing 5% onion extract for 28 days had lower fasting blood sugar and less body fat than the control group.
Quercetin and sulfur compounds are chemicals generated from onions that have anti-diabetic effects. For instance, it has been shown that quercetin interacts with cells in the liver, skeletal muscle, pancreas, adipose tissue, and small intestine to control blood sugar levels throughout the body.
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Increases bone density
Many other foods, such as onions, may also help maintain healthy bones, even though dairy is primarily linked with this improvement.
Twenty-four middle-aged and postmenopausal women consumed 3.4 ounces (100 ml) of onion juice every day for eight weeks. Compared to the control group, they exhibited increased bone mineral density and antioxidant activity.
In a different investigation, 507 perimenopausal and postmenopausal women were analyzed. It was shown that those who ingested onions at least once a day had 5% higher total bone density than those who did so just once a month or less. The research also revealed that older women who consumed onions frequently had a 20% lower risk of hip fracture than those who never did.
Through a reduction in oxidative stress, an increase in antioxidant levels, and a reduction in bone loss, onions may help prevent osteoporosis and boost bone density.
Possess antimicrobial properties
Onions can fight against various potentially dangerous germs, including Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, and Bacillus cereus. Also discovered to be prevented by onion extract is the growth of Vibrio cholerae, a bacterium that severely threatens public health in underdeveloped nations.
Quercetin from onions appears to be a potent antibacterial compound. The growth of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) was successfully inhibited in a test-tube investigation using the antioxidant quercetin from yellow onion skin (MRSA).
While H. pylori is a bug associated with stomach ulcers and numerous forms of digestive cancers, MRSA is an antibiotic-resistant bacteria that cause infections in several body locations. According to another test-tube experiment, quercetin damaged the cell walls and membranes of S. aureus and E. coli.
Could Consolidate Digestive Health
Onions are rich in fiber and prebiotics, two nutrients vital for optimal gut health. Prebiotics are nondigestible fiber types that your stomach’s beneficial bacteria break down.
Gut bacteria ingest prebiotics and generate short-chain fatty acids like butyrate, acetate, and propionate. It has been discovered that these short-chain fatty acids strengthen the stomach, boost immunity, and enhance digestion.
Consuming foods rich in prebiotics also helps develop probiotics, such as Lactobacillus and bifidobacteria strains, which are beneficial for the digestive system. A diet high in prebiotics may help improve calcium absorption, improving bone health.
Two prebiotics that is particularly prevalent in onions is inulin and fructooligosaccharides. These aid in increasing the number of helpful bacteria in your gut and boosting immune system performance.
Concluding Now! Are Onions Good for Gut Health?
Onions have long been prized for their culinary uses, but this humble root vegetable is also an excellent source of prebiotics.
Prebiotics are a type of dietary fiber that promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. This helps to improve digestive health, balance bacterial levels and boost the immune system. Onions are an especially rich source of prebiotics, containing high levels of inulin and fructan.
In addition to being good for your gut, onions are also a low-calorie, nutrient-dense food that provides a range of essential vitamins and minerals. So next time you’re planning a meal, don’t forget to add some onions to the shopping list.
The advantages of onions for health are rather striking. Potent compounds in these nutrient-dense veggies may lower your risk of heart disease and cancer.
Onions may boost the immune system due to their capacity to combat bacteria and improve intestinal health. Due to their adaptability, they can also be used to improve the flavor of any savory food. By consuming more onions, you can easily enhance your general health.
FAQs about Onions and Gut Health
Are Onions Suitable for Everyone?
Even though onion allergies are uncommon, some people can be sensitive to them. As a result, allergic people may develop digestive problems like wind and heartburn. Onions include FODMAPs, a type of fiber and carbohydrate that some people’s digestive systems find challenging to manage.
Why are onions good for gut health?
Onions are rich in fiber and prebiotics, two nutrients vital for optimal gut health. Prebiotics are nondigestible fiber types that your stomach’s beneficial bacteria break down. Gut bacteria ingest prebiotics and generate short-chain fatty acids like butyrate, acetate, and propionate.
When should onions not be consumed?
Onions and garlic are pretty spicy, much like any ingredient high in sulfur. Pitta is irritated by them both physically and emotionally. Eating these two things aggravates the conditions above in people who already have acid reflux, ulcers, colitis, heartburn, intestinal inflammation, skin rashes or redness, etc.
Which onion is most nutritious?
Compared to other varieties of onions, red and yellow are higher in antioxidants. Yellow onions may have almost 11 times as many antioxidants as white onions. Some antioxidant levels can be dramatically decreased during cooking.
What issues do onions bring about?
Diallyl disulfide and lipid transfer protein, two substances found in onions, can aggravate allergy symptoms like asthma, runny nose, nasal congestion, itchy eyes and nose, and contact dermatitis, characterized by a red, itchy rash.
What effects do onions have on the digestive system?
Onions contain fructans, which are poorly absorbed in the small intestine and, therefore, difficult to digest. In fact, fructans can significantly upset your digestive system by causing bloating, gas, and diarrhea as they ferment. If you have a sensitive digestive system, I advise against eating raw onions.
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Sources and References
At TipTop Gut, we rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.
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Turati F, Guercio V, Pelucchi C, La Vecchia C, Galeone C. Colorectal cancer and adenomatous polyps in relation to allium vegetables intake: a meta-analysis of observational studies. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2014 Sep;58(9):1907-14. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201400169. Epub 2014 Jun 27. PMID: 24976533.