Can you eat onion stalks?

In this brief article, we will answer the question “Can you eat onion stalks?”. We will also elaborate on the benefits we can avail of from onion stalks and the possible uses of the onion stalks in cooking along with their nutritional profile.

Can you eat onion stalks?

Yes, you can eat onion stalks. They do not have a good nutritional value as other parts but they do have mild onion flavor and some nutritional components. Onion stalks can be used as a scallion.

Onion stalks

Onion stalks can be referred to as green onions, chives, and spring onions. These stalks have a subtle taste and give a distinct flavor in the recipes. Allium fistulosum are green/spring/salad onions or scallions and are immature onions. Allium cepa is a bulb onion, which is grown mainly for the use and processing of the bulbs. The premature formation of stalks and their flowering is called bolting and is undesirable. However, they do not differ nutritionally (1,2).

People began to harvest onion stalks hundreds of years ago in Central Asia. The bulb which is placed at the bottom of the onion stalk provides a stronger flavor and taste on the bite. These stalks consist of light, oniony tang.

Onion plants sometimes produce premature flowering,i.e., premature seed stalk (scapes). Bolting is an undesirable trait in onion bulb production. This development of premature flowering stalks and seeds instead of producing bulbs, reduces the quality of onion bulbs. Temperature, duration of temperature, day length, genotype, planting date, seedling age, over-fertilization influence the flowering in onion plants  (2).

Is there any major difference between onion stalks and green onions?

No, onion stalks do not vary from green onions on a larger scale. These both are considered the same entities. Their most closely related relatives are leeks, chives, onions, and shallots. All Allium species are characterized by the rich content of sulfur compounds such as Salk(en)yl cysteine sulfoxide, sulfides, alkyl polysulfides and flavonoids and therefore have a great antioxidant potential (1).

These all four categories of onions are members of the allium family, growth of the bulb takes place at the bottom of stalks.

Housewives or chefs from all over the world use these onion stalks in chunks for soups, salads, or as a garnishing item in many dishes like on rice and these chunks of onion stalks can also be used as stir-fried. 

Health benefits of onion stalks

A good source of fiber

Onion stalks are highly recommended as a fibrous food product. One cup filled with chunks of onion stalks can provide us 10 percent of the fiber component which is required for whole day nutrition.

This fiber in various ways makes you healthy like it lowers the level of cholesterol which can also reduce the risk of many other serious syndromes such as cardiac diseases, diabetes, and many other serious illness conditions.

Onion fibers are fructans, which stimulate the growth of specific microorganisms in the colon (e.g. bifidobacteria, lactobacilli) with a general positive health effect. Inulin (a type of fructan) found in great amounts in onions also improved blood lipid profiles and altered the colonic environment in a beneficial manner (3).

Helps body cells to fight against cancer 

Onion stalks and other veggies that are members of the allium family can reduce the growth of cells that are responsible for cancer. 

Researchers believe that a component known as allicin is associated with giving a garlic breath that further prevents the growth of cells which can cause cancer and also reduces the spread of tumors from spreading in other body parts.

After catalytic breakage of alliin, allicin and polysulfides are synthesized, which are responsible for such a powerful antiproliferative effect of tumor cells (2). The consumption of raw or processed onions is related to the treatment of several cancers, such as ovarian, breast, gastrointestinal, prostate, brain and others (3).  

Other chemical compounds are related to the anticancerigenos activity of onion species. These are quercetin (a flavonoid), and organosulfur derivatives. Sixteen different flavonoids have been identified in onions as well as several anthocyanins (2,3).

Aids to prevent infections 

Extractions from onions, garlic, and other associated vegetables of their family are being used as a medicine that can play a significant role against various microorganisms like viruses, bacteria, and fungi. 

Certain tests performed on onion stalks at the laboratory proved that they are also responsible to retard the growth or completely emit the growth of bacteria such as E. coli or Salmonella.

Studies showed that crude extracts of onion exert potent antifungal and antibacterial properties. Onion oils and aqueous extracts were active against several gram positive bacteria (3).

It helps to protect your body

Vegetables of onion-related families are associated with the protection of the body from different toxins. These veggies are packed with certain nutrients like phytonutrients and antioxidants which protect body cells by defending them against the destruction of cells.

Certain antioxidants are present in onion stalks that are polyphenols and flavonoids; these antioxidants are responsible for maintaining body functions by working against free radicals and other substances that can lead to cancer, aging disease, and other inflammatory conditions. The antioxidant property of flavonoids and their ability to scavenge free reactive species is due to their configuration and the presence of hydroxyl groups. Flavonoids have a characteristic structure with two benzene rings connected with a pyran ring (2).

Antioxidants obtained from fresh food products work effectively when the food is uncooked as during cooking they lose their strength. So, it is always recommended to eat them fresh.

The nutritional value of onion stalks

The total number of calories in 100 g of onion stalks is 32, in which a very trace amount of fat is present and cholesterol level is zero, according to the USDA.

Onion stalks have very fewer carbohydrates than other vegetables like potatoes and carrots with very less sugar content.

In addition, the onion stalk is enriched with very good nutrients like vitamin K (276 mg), vitamin C (18.8 mg) and fibers (2.6 g) which prevents blood clotting and plays a role in the protection of cell damage, respectively.

The risks associated with onion stalks 

Onion stalks are rich in vitamin K. If a heavy amount of onion stalk is eaten then the high dose of vitamin K will cause the blood to become thin (4). 

Sometimes onion stalks can also cause blood clots, strokes, and other heart diseases like heart attacks.

Other FAQs about Onions that you may be interested in.

Does Onion Powder Go Bad

How to preserve onions

How many red onions are there in a pound?

Can you use an onion that has sprouted?

Conclusion

In this brief article, we have provided an answer to the question “Can you eat onion stalks?”. We have also elaborated on the benefits we can avail of from eating onion stalks and the possible uses of the onion stalks in cooking along with their nutritional profile.

References

  1. Gorrepati, Kalyani, et al. Biochemical differences between bolted and non-bolted onions. J Exper Agri Int, 2020, 42, 30-35.
  2. Fredotović, Ž., and J. Puizina. Edible Allium species: Chemical composition, biological activity and health effects. It J Food Sci, 2019, 31.
  3. Griffiths, Gareth, et al. Onions—a global benefit to health. Phytother res, 2002, 16, 603-615.
  4. Ivanova D, Zhelev Z, Getsov P, et al. Vitamin K: Redox-modulation, prevention of mitochondrial dysfunction and anticancer effect. Redox Biol. 2018, 16, 352-358. 

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.