Can you eat raw onions?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “can you eat raw onions?”, and discuss various health benefits and nutritional value of onions.

Yes, you can eat raw onions. They are a good source of minerals and vitamins and have many health benefits. 

Their medicinal properties have been in usage since ancient times where they were used to treat various ailments including heart disease, headaches, and digestive problems.

Onions are members of the genus Allium where they share their relevance to other vegetables such as garlic and leeks. These pungent vegetables are eaten raw rather than cooked for their maximum health benefits.

What are the benefits of eating raw onions?

Improves Heart Health

Sulfur-rich onions promote triglycerides reduction and decrease cholesterol in the body, ultimately lowering the risk of heart disease and protecting against blood clots. Flavonoids are the main compounds that lower blood pressure and hence decrease heart-related risks. 

Lowers Blood Sugar Level

One of the tremendous benefits of eating raw onions is they reduce blood glucose, and it is highly beneficial for diabetic patients with Type 1 and Type 2 variants. Specific flavonoids-quercetin and sulfur-found in red onions control whole-body glucose equilibrium. Hence, raw onions can be used as supplements to regulate blood sugar levels.

Improves immunity and Fights Cancer


Antioxidants, flavonoids, and sulfur found in onions are associated with properties that help fight cancerous cells and reduce the production of free radicals in your body. Thus, promoting a better immune system. Studies have shown that diets rich in onions lower lung and ovarian cancer incidents.  


Helps in Digestion

Fibers like Inulin and oligofructose found in onions are a food source for good bacteria found in our gut that promote healthy digestion and gut health. Moreover, compounds like thiosulphate and quercetin prevent ulcer-causing bacteria like H.Pylori and Staphylococcus and also prevent diarrhea.

Oral Health

Eating raw onions are great for oral health and may prevent tooth cavities. Certain chemical compounds inhibit the growth of bacteria. Also, the vegetable acts as a supplement of Vitamin C that keeps teeth strong and healthy.

What are the nutrients in Onions?

Onions are a rich source of Vitamin C, Vitamin B, sulfur, fibers, and various antioxidants that keep your health in check. They are also a good source of minerals such as Potassium, Manganese, and Copper-that are essential for the proper functioning of the body’s immune functions. Onions are usually mixed and eaten in a salad because they are low in calories and high in nutrients.

A medium-sized onion contains:

  • Calories: 32-44 kcal
  • Fibers: 1-2 gm
  • Proteins: 1-1.5 gm
  • Fats: 0 gm
  • Carbohydrates: 6-10 gm
  • Vitamin C: 7-9 gm

They are also rich in:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B6
  • Potassium
  • Sodium
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium


What are the different types of Onions?

There are various types of onions depending on their area of origin. Several types offer different nutrients and tastes. Common types of onions are:

Red Onion: 

Mostly used in salads and eaten raw because of their sweet taste. When cut, they have a beautiful red hue of flesh.

Yellow onion: 

Also called brown onions, they have high starch content and are used in a variety of recipes.

Sweet onion: 

Milder in taste and texture than the yellow and red onions, they contain higher sulfur content and are food for eating raw.


Similar to scallions, they have white flesh and leafy tops and relatively smaller bulbs. Mostly used in soups, stews, and pasta owing to their sweet and mild taste.


These are green onions and erroneously called spring onions, lack a bulb, and they are usually cut into small pieces and sprinkled as seasoning.

What are the downsides of eating raw onions?

There are a few downsides to eating raw onions. The main of which is having bad breath and unpleasant body odor. This is due to the presence of sulfur in onions.

The same compound is the main culprit that brings tears in the eyes when onions are sliced and cut. This volatile compound escapes as vapors and causes irritation in the eye. To prevent this, they are soaked and refrigerated 30 mins before cutting them.

You should be wary of other side effects and must consult a doctor if you experience any of these issues after consuming onions

  1. Gastric pain
  2. Heartburn
  3. Hypoglycaemia (Low blood sugar)
  4. Rashes or skin irritation
  5. Low blood pressure
  6. Risk of bleeding and blood thinning

Raw or cooked? Bottom Line.

Onions can promote good health whether raw or cooked. However, raw onions offer the most benefits as they make available the essential nutrients which might get damaged in cooking. Every part of onions is rich in nutrients such as flavonoids and minerals and, thus, must be consumed whole without wasting much of its skin.

Other FAQs about Onions that you may be interested in.

How to soften onion powder?

Can you eat onion shoots?

Can you eat onions after gallbladder removal?

How to Clean Green Onions


In this brief article, we answered the question “Can you eat raw onions?”. We also discussed various health benefits of eating raw onions. 


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.