Frugal Food: Onions

As part of Nutrition to Fit’s Frugal Food Favorites series, each week we highlight a favorite affordable food and all of its nutritional benefits, in addition to ways and recipes to include it in your life. This week is all about onions!

Onions are a very economical, very healthy food – definitely a superfood! In fact, because of this and how prevalent they are, they’re actually a leading source of antioxidants (especially quercetin) worldwide (1). It’s namely the antioxidants and sulfur-containing compounds in onions that make them such a powerfully nutritious food that leads to many health benefits.

Learn about one of the most frugal superfoods around - onions! See their health benefits, tips for usage, and great recipes from Registered Dietitians.

May Lower Blood Pressure

Due to the high potassium content, onions can have an anti-hypertensive effect (2). This helps lead to increased cardiovascular benefits. Quercetin, an antioxidant flavonoid, also acts to lower blood pressure and lead to improve cardiovascular health.


The plethora of antioxidants found in onions include vitamin C, which aids a healthy immune system, and maintains healthy skin and hair.

Protective Effects Against Cancer

The sulfur-containing compounds (sulfides and polysulfides) of onions may have some protective effects against cancer (1).


Additional sulfur-containing compounds (thiosulfinates) that are found in onions may suppress the growth of harmful microorganisms, like bacteria or yeast (1).

Decreased Risk of Diabetes

This potential benefit is associated with the beneficial effects onions can have on blood glucose regulation and lowering blood sugar levels. Most studies have been in animals, but one done in humans showed that 100 grams of raw onion consumed daily led to a significant decrease in blood glucose (1).

Improved Bone Health

There have been studies in animals that have shown that onions may increase bone mass, and likely have protective effects against bone loss (1). One human study in women over age 50 showed a correlation between increased onion consumption and increased bone density (1).

Healthy Onion Recipes from Registered Dietitians

How to Use + Recipes

Onions can be served raw or cooked, but it is important to note that cooking onions results in diminishing their antioxidant amounts. They’re easily added to salads, sandwiches, soups, stews, casseroles, and more. Check out some of the compiled recipes below, shared by fellow dietitians around the web!

Weeknight Chicken Curry by Dixya Bhattarai, RDN of Food, Pleasure & Health

Coconut Chicken and Vegetable Curry by Nazima Qureshi, RDN of Nutrition by Naz

Mini Black Bean &  Cheese Enchilada Cups by Katie Pfeffer-Scanlan, RDN of One Hungry Bunny

Budget-Friendly Beed with Carrot Casserole by Jennifer Lynn-Pullman, RDN of Nourished Simply

Vegan Hummus Pita Pizza by Amy Gorin, RDN of Amy Gorin Nutrition

Red Lentil Soup by Sally Kuzemchak, RDN of Real Mom Nutrition

Smoky Roasted Radishes and Chard by Erica Julson, RDN of Erica Julson Nutrition

Simple and Spicy Shakshuka by Chelsey Amer, RDN of C it Nutritionally

Red Onion Steak with Sweet Potatoes by Danielle Cushing, RDN of The Every Kitchen

Mediterranean Eggplant Stuffed with Fresh Tomato and Onion by Elena Paravantes, RDN of Olive Tomato

Slow Cooker Greek Baked Beans by Kara Lydon, RDN of The Foodie Dietitian

Green Onion & Garlic Hummus by Kelli Shallal, RDN of Hungry Hobby

Simple Baked Mesquite Chicken by Kelli Shallal, RDN of Hungry Hobby

Better for You Chili by Elizabeth Ward, MS, RDN of Better is the New Perfect

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Chicken Sausage by Julie Harrington, RDN of RDelicious Kitchen

Greek Chopped Salad with Roasted Chickpeas by Amanda Hernandez, RDN of The Nutritionist Reviews

Broccoli Cannelini Bean Poppers by Tracee Yablon Brenner, RDN of Triad to Wellness

Speedy Pickled Red Onions by Jessica Cording, RDN of Jessica Cording Nutrition

Pumpkin Falafel by Lindsey Janeiro, RDN, LDN, CLC of Nutrition to Fit

Freezer Fajita Chicken by Lindsey Janeiro, RDN, LDN, CLC of Nutrition to Fit

Grilled Hasselback Potatoes by Lindsey Janeiro, RDN, LDN, CLC of Nutrition to Fit

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I'm Lindsey! I'm passionate about helping you find healthy habits and nutrition that fit your life - not the other way around!