Can you eat onion shoots?
In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “Can you eat onion shoots?” We will also elaborate on the ways for safe consumption of onion shoots, and the possible benefits and uses of onion shoots, along with the reasons to avoid eating onion shoots.
Can you eat onion shoots?
Yes, you can eat onion shoots. Onions sometimes may become spongy after they sprout. But these are not toxic or harmful to eat and they will not cause any harm if consumed.
If the size of roots and shoots is small, then these onions are perfectly edible. It also varies from person to person because some people consider the taste and flavor of onion shoots good while some consider these shoots bitter.
However, onion shoots are very nutritious. A study showed that the major onion flavonoids, quercetin, myricetin and kaempferol, were found to be significantly higher in sprouted onions when compared to non-sprouted ones (1).
In traditional European medicine, oral consumption of decoction of the dried shoot is believed to cicatrize wounds and treat insect bites (2).
The health benefits of onions
Onion bulbs contain a volatile oil with sulfurous constituents, including alliin, which is transformed to allicin by the enzyme alliinase, when crushing or chewing the onion. Allicin breaks down into a number of sulfur compounds, which have powerful biological effects, such as antimicrobial, anti-diabetic, cardioprotective (hypolipidemic, antithrombotic, suppression of LDL oxidation, and thermogenic), anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimutagenic, and cancer-protective properties (2).
There is no difference in the nutritional content of onion and onion shoots. Some of the health benefits of onion are described below:
Packed with various nutrients
Onions are considered as nutrient-dense compounds that have fewer calories but high content of other nutritional factors such as minerals and vitamins. One medium-sized onion has 44 calories but has a magnificent number of nutritional values such as minerals, vitamins, and fiber.
Most of the vegetables are highly enriched with vitamin C that plays a significant role in the regulation of the immune system, production of collagen which is necessary for our bones, repairing of tissues, healthy immune response, and also enhancing the absorbing ability of iron.
Vitamin C is also a highly recommended antioxidant which is a powerful agent in our body that protects the cells against any damage by free radicals or unstable molecules. Onion also contains vitamin E, which is a potent antioxidant (3).
Onions are also enriched with Vitamin B including pyridoxine (B6) and folate (B9) both of which work well in metabolic reactions, in the production of red blood cells, and also in the function of nerves.
Fructans, a type of dietary fiber present in the onion, stimulate the growth of specific microorganisms in the colon (e.g. bifidobacteria, lactobacilli) with a general positive health effect (3).
Potassium is a nutrient, many people are lacking in their bodies. Onions are a good source of potassium in the body that keeps regulating the function of the kidney, the transmission of nerves, contraction of muscles, fluid balance, and even all normal cell functions require potassium. Other minerals of onion are P, Ca, Mg, Zn, Mn, Na, Fe, Br, J, Se, and Cu (4).
Good for heart health
Onion is enriched with anti-inflammatory compounds that help to regulate the normal blood pressure in the body. These anti-inflammatory agents also help to avoid the formation of blood clots. The thiosulfinates diallyl trisulfide, dipropyl trisulfide, 2-methyl-3,4-dithiaheptane, methyl propyl trisulfide, dipropyl tetrasulfide and 2-propenyl propyl disulfide. These compounds are most likely responsible for their excellent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity (4).
Quercetin is an antioxidant that is majorly present in the onion. It accounts for about 80% of its total flavonoid content. It is a potent compound that acts like an anti-inflammatory compound that works against health diseases and various heart risk factors that may be high blood pressure. By comparison with other fruit and vegetables, onion has 300 mg/kg of quercetin, broccoli 100 mg/kg, apples 50 mg/kg blackcurrants 40 mg/kg and tea 30 mg/kg (3).
Onions are also good to balance the cholesterol level in the body. Some of the heart risk factors like high triglyceride levels are also kept balanced by consumption of onion.
Consists of cancer-fighting components
Consumption of vegetables such as onion or garlic relates to the lower risk of forming cancerous agents in the body. They also lower the level of colorectal and stomach diseases.
These anti-cancer properties of onion directly relate to the flavonoid antioxidants and sulfur compounds that are present in most vegetables, such as onion providing with an Onion A compound that is involved in the lower development of a tumor and it also decreases the ovarian spread in the body. In test-tube studies, it is also found out that it lowers lung cancer.
Numerous studies demonstrate the effectiveness of the consumption of raw and processed onion is related to the prevention and treatment of cancer, including breast, brain, stomach, colon, ovarian, prostate and others (3,4).
Helps to control blood sugar
Consumption of onion also regulates the blood sugar level. The high blood sugar level is mostly observed in those people who are suffering from prediabetes or diabetes. This effect to lower blood cholesterol levels is related to the dietary fiber inulin (a type of fructans) and the property of anti-hyperglycaemic effects is related to ()-S-methyl-Lcysteine sulphoxide in onion (3).
In one of the studies, it is noticed that 100 grams of onion consumption that is almost equivalent to 3.5 ounces of red fresh onions decrease the blood sugar level by about 40 mg/dl after four hours of consumption.
In research, it is found that the quercetin compounds present in onions react with cells in body organs such as the pancreas, small intestine, fat tissues, skeletal muscle, and liver where these molecules control the sugar level or regulate the whole-body sugar. Also, the sulfur-containing compounds found in onions possess anti-diabetic effects.
May boost bone density
Usually, dairy products are regarded for boosting bone density but onion is another superfood that can help to strengthen the bones. Recent epidemiological studies show flavonoid consumption to have a stronger association with bone than general fruit and vegetable consumption. Bioactive flavonoids are being assessed for properties beyond their chemical antioxidant capacity, including anti-inflammatory actions. Some have been reported to enhance bone formation and to inhibit bone resorption through their action on cell signaling pathways that influence osteoblast and osteoclast differentiation (5).
It is also claimed through research that onion also lowers the oxidative stress level of the body, enhances the antioxidant level that ultimately reduces bone loss. All these phenomena lead towards the prevention of osteoporosis and boost bone density.
Other FAQs about Onions that you may be interested in.
In this brief guide, we have provided an answer to the question, “Can you eat onion shoots?” We have also elaborated on the ways for safe consumption of onion shoots, and the possible benefits and uses of onion shoots, along with the reasons to avoid eating onion shoots.
- Belwal, Tarun, et al. Optimization of extraction methodologies and purification technologies to recover phytonutrients from food. Phytonutrients in Food. Woodhead Publishing, 2020. 217-235.
- Majid, Ishrat, et al. Changes in major flavonols and quercetin glycosides upon sprouting in onion cultivars. J King Saud Univ-Sci, 2021, 33, 101222.
- Griffiths, Gareth, et al. Onions—a global benefit to health. Phytother res, 2002, 16, 603-615.
- Fredotović, Ž., and J. Puizina. Edible Allium species: Chemical composition, biological activity and health effects. It J Food Sci, 2019, 31.
- Weaver, Connie M., et al. Flavonoid intake and bone health. J nutr gerontol geriatr, 2012, 31, 239-253.