Consuming Onion During Pregnancy: Health Benefits & Side-effects

Eating Onions During Pregnancy – Is It Safe?

A woman can have unusual food cravings during pregnancy. While some women crave for ice creams or pickles during pregnancy, others might crave for raw vegetables. Today, we will discuss one particular vegetable – onions – that some women crave for during pregnancy. Eating onions during pregnancy is usually considered safe. In fact, including onions in a pregnancy diet can offer numerous health benefits to a woman. However, some pregnant women may experience heartburn or breathing issues after consuming onions. If you are pregnant and want to include onions in your pregnancy diet, you must understand whether it is safe or not!

Can You Eat Onions While Pregnant?

Onions, whether consumed raw or in cooked form, can offer various health benefits to a pregnant woman. So you can eat onions during pregnancy, however, it is suggested you eat them in moderation.

Nutritional Facts of Onions

Onions are a member of the allium family of vegetables which are known for their characteristic pungent aroma and taste. Onions offer great medicinal value too because of their anti-cholesterol, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties. Onions contain quercetin, a plant flavonoid, that may offer protection against psoriasis, flu, and the common cold.

Onions are low in calories and packed with useful nutrients like minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins C, B6. Onions are also a good source of iron, calcium, folate, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium – all these nutrients are essential for a pregnant woman. Apart from these, onions also contain folic acid and fibre that facilitate the production of healthy new cells. The vitamins and minerals are important for good heart health, bone health, immunity and growth of the baby. These nutrients are important for glowing skin and lustrous hair too.

Benefits of Eating Onions During Pregnancy

Eating onions in moderation can prove to be very beneficial for your health during pregnancy. Read on to know some of the benefits of this vegetable.

1. Helps Strengthen the Immune System

Onions are a good source of Vitamin C which can aid in strengthening the immune system of not only the expectant mother but also the unborn child.

2. Helps Prevent Cancer

Onions are profuse with organic sulfur compounds that can help prevent cancer of several types particularly colorectal and stomach cancers by fighting the growth of free radicals responsible for causing cancer.

3. Improves the Health of the Hair and Skin

Onions are a good source of Vitamin A, C, and E. All these vitamins contribute to keeping the skin and hair healthy. These vitamins also help with hair fall and help from premature ageing.

Improves the Health of the Hair and Skin

4. Promotes Healthy Digestion

You can also benefit from eating raw onions during pregnancy as onions include dietary fibre which is known to improve digestion. Eating onions during pregnancy can lower the chances of gastric ulcers and improve your digestive health, thus providing you with relief from constipation.

5. Helps Combat Gestational Diabetes

The sulfur compounds and quercetin present in onions can also play a positive role in combating gestational diabetes by controlling the blood sugar levels. The fibre content of onions can also help with GDM.

6. May Help Improve Sleep

Onions have prebiotics, which can lower stress and improve sleep. Onions also consist of folate that can help fight pregnancy depression by preventing the excess formation of homocysteine in the body. Excess of homocysteine can upset the release of feel-good hormones in the body leading to mood swings, stress, and depression.

7. May Help Manage Blood Pressure

Eating onions during pregnancy may help regulate blood pressure as onions have plenty of phytonutrients and potassium that can prevent hypertension-related complications.

8. Supports Fetal Development

Onions contain essential nutrients such as folate and manganese, which play a crucial role in the proper development of the fetus. Folate is particularly important for the early stages of pregnancy as it helps prevent neural tube defects and supports the formation of the baby’s brain and spinal cord. Manganese contributes to bone formation and overall skeletal development in the unborn child, making onions a valuable addition to a pregnant woman’s diet.

Possible Side Effects of Consuming Onions While Pregnant

Although onions can offer various health benefits to a pregnant woman, if consumed in excess, they can lead to certain side effects. Mentioned below are the possible side effects of consuming onions in excess:

1. Diarrhoea and Heartburn

Consuming onions in large quantities during pregnancy can result in heartburn or even diarrhoea sometimes.

2. Allergic Reaction

Some pregnant women may be intolerant to onions and may have an allergic reaction on consuming onions in excess. Some women also have breathing problems after eating onions in large quantities.

3. Enhanced Risk of Bad Breath

Consuming onions, especially raw onions, can contribute to an increased risk of bad breath during pregnancy. Onions contain pungent compounds that can linger in the mouth and be exhaled, leading to undesirable breath odor. Pregnant women may already experience changes in taste and smell due to hormonal fluctuations, and the consumption of onions can exacerbate this effect. Maintaining good oral hygiene and moderating onion intake can help mitigate the risk of persistent bad breath during pregnancy.

Which Types of Onions Are More Beneficial During Pregnancy?

During pregnancy, choosing the right type of onions can enhance the nutritional benefits while minimizing potential risks. Various types of onions offer unique nutritional profiles, and incorporating them wisely into your diet can provide essential nutrients. Here are some types of onions, along with their specific benefits during pregnancy:

  • Red Onions –  Very commonly used a variety of onions, famous for their spicy sharp taste. They are rich in flavonoids and also act as blood thinners. If you want to add a sharp taste to your foods and don’t mind a few tears while chopping them, you can add red onions to your regular diet.
  • White Onions – These are crunchy and have a strong smell. The aftertaste is not as strong as the red onions. So, if you are not very sensitive to smell but want a milder taste, you can add these white onions to your salads and other dishes. They taste best when eaten raw but taste good when cooked too.
  • Yellow Onions – Also known as sweet onions, these onions have a mild smell and a sweet taste. So, if you are sensitive to strong smells and tastes, you can use these onions instead.
  • Shallots – Though red, they are much smaller and taste less sharp than full-sized red onions. They add a good flavor to the dish and do not smell as strong as other variants.
  • Spring Onions – Both the onion and the green part can be used to add some great flavor to your dishes. Commonly used in Chinese and Mediterranean dishes, spring onions add a nice crunch to the dishes, making them the perfect seasoning.

How to Select and Store Onions for Pregnancy?

When choosing onions for your pregnancy diet, make sure to opt for fresh and firm bulbs without soft spots or bruises. Store them in a cool, dry place, separate from other fruits and vegetables, to prevent spoilage. Pantry or kitchen cupboards are suitable storage locations for onions, with a shelf life of up to two weeks. Refrigeration is not recommended as it can lead to quick spoilage due to onion absorption of moisture.

Raw or undercooked onions can harbor harmful bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella. Additionally, practicing good hygiene by washing hands and cutting boards thoroughly after handling onions is essential to prevent cross-contamination.

How to Include Onions in Your Pregnancy Diet?

Including onions in your pregnancy diet can be a flavorful and nutritious way to enhance your meals while providing essential nutrients. Here are some practical and delicious ways to incorporate onions into your pregnancy diet:

  • Enhance the flavor of your main dishes by sautéing onions as a base. They add depth and aroma to various cuisines.
  • Enjoy the crisp texture and mild pungency of raw onions by adding them to salads. They contribute a refreshing element to your greens.
  • Prepare nutritious soups with a base of sautéed onions. This not only adds flavor but also introduces the benefits of onions to your soup.
  • Incorporate grilled or roasted onions as a side dish. Their caramelized sweetness adds a delightful touch to your meals.
  • Include onions in vegetable stir-fries for a burst of flavor and added nutritional value.
  • Craving a crunchy snack? Consider baking or air-frying onion rings for a healthier alternative.
  • Create flavorful sauces and gravies by incorporating sautéed or pureed onions. They provide a rich and aromatic base.
  • Experiment with stuffing onions with a mix of vegetables, herbs, and spices. Baking or steaming them can result in a tasty and nutritious dish.
  • Add a tangy twist to your meals by including pickled onions as a condiment or side dish.
  • Create flavorful dips by incorporating finely chopped or caramelized onions. These can be paired with whole-grain crackers or vegetable sticks for a tasty and nutritious snack option.

FAQs

1. Can I Eat Stored and Cut Raw Onions While Pregnant?

Yes, you can eat stored and cut raw onions during pregnancy, but it’s important to handle them with care. Ensure proper storage to prevent spoilage, and practice good hygiene when handling cut onions to avoid the risk of bacterial contamination.

2. Can Consuming Onions Lead to Miscarriage, Bloating and Gas?

Consuming onions in moderation is generally safe during pregnancy and is not linked to miscarriage. However, excessive intake may lead to bloating and gas in some individuals. It’s advisable to monitor your onion consumption and consult with your healthcare provider if you experience discomfort.

3. Can I Eat Spring Onions During Pregnancy?

Yes, you can eat spring onions during pregnancy. They are a good source of vitamins and can add flavor and crunch to your dishes. However, ensure they are properly washed, and practice moderation to avoid digestive discomfort. If you have any concerns, consult with your healthcare provider for personalized advice.

So, the answer to ‘Are onions good for pregnancy’ is yes! Onions are a healthy vegetable and you can include them in your pregnancy diet. However, remember to eat them in moderation. In case of any concerns regarding allergic reactions, it is always advisable to consult a doctor. Better yet, consult a doctor or nutritionist beforehand and have a safe and healthy pregnancy!

References/Resources:

1. Constipation Management; Information for A Healthy Bowel; Sydney Local Health District;  https://www.slhd.nsw.gov.au/rpa/Urology/content/pdf/Constipation%20Management.pdf

2. Onions; Center for Nutrition, Diet and Health; https://files.udc.edu/docs/causes/online/Onions%209.pdf

3. Kim. J; Anti-bacterial action of onion (Allium cepa L.) extracts against oral pathogenic bacteria (The Journal of Nihon University School of Dentistry); National Library of Medicine; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9354029/; September 1997

4. Allen. M, Mellow. M, Robinson. M, Orr. W;  The effect of raw onions on acid reflux and reflux symptoms (The American Journal of Gastroenterology); National Library of Medicine; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2327378/; April 1990

5. Sachdeva. S, Gupta. V, Amin. S, Tahseen. M; Chronic Urticaria (Indian Journal of Dermatology); National Library of Medicine; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3276885/

6. Onions; Health and Social Services; https://www.hss.gov.nt.ca/en/services/nutritional-food-fact-sheet-series/onions

7. 15 Foods That Can Cause Bloating; Cleveland Clinic; https://health.clevelandclinic.org/foods-that-cause-bloating/

Also Read:

Eating Garlic in Pregnancy
Eating Potatoes when Pregnant
Consuming Tomato during Pregnancy
Eating Chickpeas (Chana) when Pregnant

Previous article «
Next article »