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Onions and Nutrition

Adapted from

Onion has played a key role throughout culinary history. In prehistoric times, onions were widely eaten in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. Food historians shake their heads regarding the exact origin of the onion. Some varieties of onions have been given popular names like Egyptian onions or Welsh onions with no evidence that they actually grew in those countries.


In many cultures onions were also’ a symbol of eternity. Archeologists discovered small onions in the eye sockets in the mummy of King Ramses IV who died in 1160 BC. To the Egyptians, the onion, with its concentric layers, represented eternal life and was buried with each of their Pharaohs.

Of all foods in the plant kingdom, onions set the record for the most frequent appearance in ancient Egyptian art. It certainly is no wonder since they were the staple food of the poor along with bread and beer. Onions often appeared in Egyptian art as a sacrifice that appeared on their altars.

In the 17th century, Europeans consumed onions as breakfast “health” food (Margen, 2002; 425).

Strange as it seems today, in ancient Egypt a basket of onions was considered a very respectable funeral offering, rating only second to a the highly revered basket of bread.

Nutritional Value

Onions, like garlic, contain various organic sulfur compounds. It also has the enzyme alliinase, which is released when an onion is cut or crushed. Other constituents include Quercitin, phenolic acids, sterols, saponins, pectin, and volatile oils. (Murray, 1993; 121)

Health Benefits

  • Decreases blood lipid levels
  • Prevents clot formation
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Exert significant blood-sugar lowering action
  • Has been used historically for asthma


Onions promote warmth and thus move energy in the body. They taste pungent (Pitchford, 1993; 505).


  • Calories – 61
  • Protein – 2g
  • Carbohydrate – 14g
  • Dietary fiber – 3g
  • Potassium – 251 mg
  • Sodium – 5mg
  • Calcium – 32mg
  • Magnesium – 16mg
  • Vitamin B6 – .19mg
  • Vitamin C – 10.2mg
  • Folate – 30Amcg
The information provided on Lil’ Peeps Nutrition’s website is for information purposes only.   The contents of this website are not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.