What’s Healthy About Onions, Exactly?

English: A growing onion Allium cepa in a neut...

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

Maybe I have too much time on my hands, but I’ve been wondering about the nutritional content of onions recently. Maybe I’m alone in this, but I have literally never heard anyone say anything along the lines of  “Well, are you eating enough onions??” when someone is complaining about a physical ailment. This statement includes my Mom, who is a staunch vegetable advocate and an accomplished chef/healthyperson (a term I have just invented). For me, onions make up a large proportion of the vegetables I can afford to eat in my post-collegiate life, and I’m interested to know how much I am actually getting out of these crunchy white objects that make me cry.

So! Did you know that there is such a thing as the National Onions Association? Now you do! I would make more jokes about their website if it wasn’t so surprisingly helpful. Seriously, they have a video tutorial on how to not cry while cutting your onions (Thanks, NOA!), instructions on how to efficiently caramelize onions and tips on how to not have onion breath. What’s not to like?

Red onion slices

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Anyway, back to the point. Onions are surprisingly high in vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber and two things I’ve never heard of called Allicin and Quercetin. Allicin lowers blood pressure and reduces heart disease and Quercetin is an amazing antioxidant. So the next time you’re trying not to ruin your mascara while wiping away an onion-related tear, just remember that you’re helping prevent the TOP TWO killers of Americans, although these health benefits are probably negated if your onion is in the form of a Bloomin’ Onion. Also, it helps prevent you from getting the flu! Feel better?

However, there are also some side effects other than smelling like an Italian kitchen (which might not be so bad). They can cause a buildup of “intestinal gas” (Yikes) and can interfere with certain types of blood thinning medication (Double yikes).

Setting that aside, if this post has put you in the mood for onions, which it has for me, I recommend this wonderful Onion Focaccia recipe from Bon Appetit for your culinary pleasure:

Rosemary and Onion Focaccia

Karen Man’s simple focaccia recipe builds flavor with sliced onion, fresh rosemary, and oregano. Shape the dough for its second rise before guests arrive.

Photo Courtesy of bonappetit.com


  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour plus more
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt plus more
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • Lightly oil a large bowl; set aside. Combine 1 3/4 cups flour, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, sugar, yeast, and 3/4 cup water in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix on low speed for 5 minutes. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl. Increase speed to medium and mix for 6 minutes (dough will be very soft). Form dough into a ball. (Alternatively, vigorously stir ingredients to form a ragged dough. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Knead dough, sprinkling with flour by tablespoonfuls as necessary to prevent sticking, until smooth, 4–5 minutes. This will result in a denser bread than mixer method.) Transfer to prepared bowl. Cover; let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Chill overnight.
  • Brush a large rimmed baking sheet with 2 Tbsp. oil. Stretch and press dough on sheet into a rectangle slightly smaller than the sheet. Brush dough with remaining 2 Tbsp. oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap; let stand in a warm, draft-free area until dough has almost doubled in size, 1 1/2–2 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 500°. Remove plastic wrap and dimple dough with your fingertips. Scatter onion, rosemary, and oregano over dough; season with salt and pepper. Bake focaccia until golden brown, 10–15 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before slicing.

Nutritional Information:
One serving contains
Calories: 150 kcal
Fat: 7 grams
Saturated Fat: 1 gram
Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
Carbohydrates: 21 grams
Dietary Fiber: 1 gram
Total Sugars: 2 grams
Protein: 3 grams
Sodium: 360 milligrams

-Anna Schroen


3 responses to “What’s Healthy About Onions, Exactly?

  1. Pingback: Onions | More in Sunshine than Shade·

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