Onions: Nature’s secret weapon to protect your health

Onions: Nature’s secret weapon to protect your health.

Every day I am in awe of food’s powerful ability to help protect our health, improve our digestion and assist in the prevention of cancer.  Today I am going to talk about a rock star: the onion. 

Onions come in hundreds of varieties and flavors. They can be eaten raw, stir fried, baked, roasted, broiled, steamed, boiled, and probably multiple other ways, too. 

Onions are rich in two chemical groups that have benefits to human health. These are the flavonoids and the alk(en)yl cysteine sulphoxides (ACSOs). Two flavonoid subgroups are found in onions: the anthocyanins, which impart a red/purple color to some varieties, and flavanols such as quercetin and its derivatives that are responsible for the yellow and brown skins of many other varieties.

Onions are versatile; they often are used as an ingredient in many dishes and are accepted by almost all traditions and cultures.

But . . . when it comes to onions and your health, the one thing you need to know is simply to include them in your diet and often.  

Here’s why. 

Science shows that the quercetin found in onions can cause apoptosis (that is, force cancer cells to die), it can slow the growth of cancer cells, and it can stop cancer cells from migrating to other parts of the body (called metastasis).

In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Italian researchers found that the more onions in the diet, the lower the cancer rates.  Specifically, they found the following lower cancer rates among those who ate onions: 

Colon Cancer: 56% lower risk

Breast Cancer: 25% lower risk

Prostate Cancer: 71% lower risk

Ovarian Cancer: 73% lower risk

Esophageal Cancer: 82% lower risk

Oral Cancer: 84% lower risk

Kidney Cancer: 38% lower risk

Endometrial Cancer: The Italian researchers found that women who ate at least two servings of onions a week had 60% lower risk of endometrial cancer. 

Pancreatic Cancer: Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, found that those who ate the most onions (and garlic) had a 54% lower risk of pancreatic cancer compared to those who ate the least.

Stomach Cancer: The University of Southern California found that the more onions people ate, the lower their risk for stomach cancer. 

In addition to these “rock star” impacts on cancer, studies show that onions help to lower heart disease rates, lower blood pressure, improve bone density, improve response to allergies and lower blood sugar.  

We probably shouldn’t be surprised by the onion’s ability to help keep and make you well, given that the onion is the only vegetable powerful enough to make you cry.  

Knowing what we know now, wouldn’t you agree that onions are well worth a few tears? 

What happens if we can’t properly digest our food?

But, what happens if we are unable to digest them properly and absorb the nutrition they offer? We would miss the opportunity to take in all the goodness that they provide.

Studies show that 50% of us are not properly digesting our food, and we are not even aware of it.

That’s a big deal.

If eating onions doesn’t “sit right” with your belly, or if something feels a bit off after you eat a meal, it could be your body’s way of warning you that you have a gut health imbalance that needs to be addressed.

We have grown accustomed to the discomfort of gas, bloating, fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, acid reflux, rashes, etc. and just accept these as the norm. What if it didn’t have to be that way?

The right diet and lifestyle changes can have an impact on improving your digestion. If you are having issues with digestion and need help figuring out which food and lifestyle changes can help you feel better, schedule a free 30-minute discovery call by going here. I can help you feel better, faster.

Pro Tips:

Onions get stronger the longer they are in contact with air. If you prefer your onions to not be so strong, chop them right before adding them to your recipe. 

When picking out onions at the market, try to avoid onions that are sprouting new green tips.

Whenever you eat a food that isn’t the healthiest choice, add some onions to counteract the detrimental effects. For example: if you are eating a hot dog, pile some chopped raw onion on top.


Aggarwal, Bharat B., and Yost, Deborah. Healing Spices. How to use 50 everyday and exotic spices to boost healthy and beat disease. New York, Sterling, 2011.

Carlotta Galeone, Claudio Pelucchi, Fabio Levi, Eva Negri, Silvia Franceschi, Renato Talamini, Attilio Giacosa, Carlo La Vecchia, Onion and garlic use and human cancer, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 84, Issue 5, November 2006, Pages 1027–1032, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/84.5.1027

Griffiths G, Trueman L, Crowther T, Thomas B, Smith B. Onions–a global benefit to health. Phytother Res. 2002 Nov;16(7):603-15. doi: 10.1002/ptr.1222. PMID: 12410539.

Nicastro HL, Ross SA, Milner JA. Garlic and onions: their cancer prevention properties. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2015 Mar;8(3):181-9. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-14-0172. Epub 2015 Jan 13. PMID: 25586902; PMCID: PMC4366009.


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Picture of Yetta Blair, CFNC, CHCC

Yetta Blair, CFNC, CHCC

Yetta is a certified functional nutrition practitioner, holistic cancer coach and speaker. She studied whole-food, plant-based nutrition with T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University. She is a food driven analyst and works with clients to help them use nutrition principles to solve the root causes of their health symptoms. She knows that functional nutrition is the answer to our current healthcare crisis, both for individuals and for society at large, and wants to inform as many people as she can of the power of food to heal. Her promise to clients - if you eat better, you will feel better.