How many times have you had someone tell you about their weird craving during pregnancy? Well, pregnancy is famous for unusual food cravings. Like craving chocolates and pickles, craving onions during pregnancy is also pretty common. Eating onions during pregnancy is usually considered safe and beneficial. In fact, onions are loaded with nutrients that are beneficial for pregnant women.
However, it holds some potential risks as well. You have to take care of many things when you choose to eat onions during pregnancy. Every step matters from choosing good onions to cutting onions while pregnant. Well, this isn’t news, is it?
Nutritional Profile Of Onions
Onions are one of the members of the allium family of vegetables (leeks, garlic, chives are some of the other members of this group) Alliums are well known for their distinctive aromatic properties.
The pungent smell and strong taste of onions are due to a lot of sulfur derivates in them. Research shows that these sulfur-containing phytochemicals have strong anti-cancer properties. Onions are also loaded with quercetin, the flavonoids that besides anti-cancer properties, have remarkable anti-cholesterol and anti-inflammatory properties as well.
According to a source, onions are loaded with minerals and antioxidants. They are low in calories. Onions are a powerhouse of vitamins C, B6. Onions are also a good source of iron, calcium, folate, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium. Apart from these, onions also contain a decent amount of fiber.
Is Eating Onion Safe During Pregnancy?
Onions are loaded with vitamins and minerals. Nutrients like magnesium, calcium, iron, folic acid, carbohydrates, phosphorus, etc. present in onions are important for the healthy progression of pregnancy and development of the baby.
However, eating them in large amounts during pregnancy is a big NO. Excessive consumption of onions during pregnancy can bring about many side effects. Onions make pregnant women sick at times.
Sometimes expecting mothers find the smell of raw onions nauseating and some even vomit. That is not because onions are unsafe, on the other hand, because of the heightened sense of smell and taste during pregnancy. Therefore, even if you crave onions during pregnancy, the consumption should be limited to moderation.
Potential Benefits Of Eating Onions During Pregnancy
Though all vegetables are beneficial, certain vegetables offer unique benefits. Onions belong there. In fact, the medicinal properties of onions have been recognized since ancient times. A source says that the therapeutic application of onion is cited in many ancient texts of India, China, Greece, Egypt, and Rome. Onions are used to treat ailments like headaches, heart disease, and mouth sores for ages.
Here are some of the top benefits of onions during pregnancy, pretty good reasons to include them in your diet.
1. Onions during pregnancy boost immunity
Pregnancy is one of the periods when the immunity of women is highly compromised. That is why pregnant women are more susceptible to infections. Studies show that onions are loaded with nutrients that can potentially increase the immunity of the mother. Eating onions could help to prevent common colds or coughs during pregnancy.
Related Reading: 11 Simple Ways To Boost Immunity During Pregnancy
2. Improves hair and skin health
Your skin and hair show how adequate your vitamin intake is. Excessive hair fall and unhealthy skin signifies vitamin deficiency (either Vitamin C, E, or A).
Onions are loaded with vitamins A, E, and C. Therefore one of the best ways to reinstate these vitamins is to eat raw or cooked onions. Applying onion juice is very effective in getting rid of skin pigmentation and for a healthy scalp as well.
3. Fights high blood pressure
During pregnancy, it is very important to maintain optimal blood pressure. Hypertension during pregnancy invites many pregnancy complications. Raw onions are a good source of phytonutrients that have strong anti-inflammatory properties. These phytonutrients help to strengthen the blood vessels and thereby, help to maintain optimum blood pressure.
4. Onions can help prevent gestational diabetes
Onions are well known for their property of stabilizing the level of blood sugar and break down insulin resistance. Chromium in onions can potentially prevent insulin resistance and thus assists in regulating blood sugar levels. Therefore, eating onions during pregnancy may help to prevent gestational diabetes.
5. Helps to enhance oral health
Dental issues are quite common during pregnancy. Expecting women are susceptible to gum-related issues like gingivitis and tooth decay. Eating raw onions is very effective in combating gum-related issues. This is because constituents in onions can potentially kill the microbes that cause gingivitis and tooth decay.
Onions can improve overall oral health. On the other hand, they can also cause smelly breath. Here is a tip to overcome this. After eating onions, rinse your mouth with equal parts lemon juice and water. Chewing a sprig of parsley or a citrus peel also helps to get rid of onion breath.
6. An excellent remedy for sore throat
Common colds and sore throats are common infections during pregnancy. Onions are loaded with the most powerful natural antibiotics, which can fight off both viral and bacterial infections, and alleviate the annoying symptoms of sore throat during pregnancy.
Onions contain sulfur compounds that not only help to stop mucus formation but also help with the removal of mucus from airways. The anti-inflammatory properties of onions help fight these infections that expecting mothers are prone to.
Related Reading: 11 Indian Home Remedies For Cold During Pregnancy
7. May help to enhance mood and sleep
Eating onion during pregnancy can help in lowering stress and improving sleep. Onions are loaded with folate that can prevent the excess formation of homocysteine. It is found that if the level of this amino acid increases, it can contribute to mood swings, stress, and depression. Eating onions during pregnancy, therefore, may help to ease mood swings.
8. Onions are good for constipation
Regular consumption of onions during pregnancy can help in preventing constipation. Constipation is a common issue during pregnancy. The high content of dietary fibers in onion helps to regulate bowel movements. Hence eating raw onions during pregnancy will help to prevent or get rid of constipation
9. Helps to prevent cancer
According to studies vegetables from the allium group are potentially capable to fight cancer, especially gastric cancer. Onion is from the house of allium. Even though onions cannot kill cancer cells, they can potentially reduce the risk of contracting cancer. They contain anti-cancer compounds like organic sulfur.
A high level of free radicals in the body is one of the root causes of cancer. These free radicals can cause damage to proteins, DNA, and cells. Unfortunately, the number of free radicals in the body increases during pregnancy. So, in a way, pregnancy might increase the risk of cancer.
Organic sulfur in onions can breaks down free radicals. Therefore, eating onions during pregnancy will help to reduce the risk of cancer.
10. Onions during pregnancy prevent excess weight gain
Gaining weight during pregnancy is inevitable. Optimal weight gain during pregnancy is a sign of healthy progression of the pregnancy. On the other hand, excessive weight gain during pregnancy can pave the way to many pregnancy complications.
Related Reading: 11 Reasons You Might Be Losing Weight During Pregnancy
Onions are low in calories and can be added to any type of food. It is a good substitution for high-calorie food. You can have more food that comprises of onion as the main ingredient to curb your hunger pangs. This may help to prevent excess weight gain during pregnancy.
11. Good source of folic acid
Intake of folic acid is very important during pregnancy. Its deficiency can bring about neural tube defects in babies. That is why folic acid is prescribed by the doctor as soon as the pregnancy is confirmed.
Onions are a very good source of folic acid. Consuming onions during pregnancy first trimester can boost the folic acid level in the body and prevent neural tube defects
12. Helps to prevent edema and allergies
Onions are a major source of dietary flavonoids, which are rich in anti-inflammatory properties. These flavonoids can help to reduce the swellings of the hand, face, and feet (edema) which is pretty common among pregnant women. This anti-inflammatory property of onions is also beneficial in combating inflammations due to allergies as well.
Potential Risks Of Eating Onions During Pregnancy
Despite all the benefits of eating onions during pregnancy, excessive consumption of onions can cause some potential risks as well.
1. Possibility of Vitamin A and Chromium toxicity
Onions contain a significant amount of vitamin A and chromium. Even though they have many benefits, excessive intake of vitamin A and Chromium can trigger some serious issues.
Vitamin A toxicity can bring about birth defects that may affect the heart, skull, lungs, and eyes of the baby. Likewise, too much chromium might trigger some side effects like headaches and sleep issues. In severe cases, it can also bring about liver or kidney damage.
Of course, this won’t only happen because you eat onions, but if you eat other food that is loaded with vitamin A or chromium, it may cause issues
2. Risk of listeriosis
This research found that the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes thrives on the outer surface of whole and sliced onions. Apparently, raw, and cut onions absorb bacteria. Therefore it is important to wash onions thoroughly after removing its outer layer of skin.
It is equally important to eat sliced onions as fresh as possible. Saving it to eat later will increase the risk of onion slices being laden with bacteria. Listeriosis during pregnancy can cause miscarriage.
3. Risk of an allergic reaction
Onions are not allergy-proof. Many pregnant women experience onion allergies and also develop onion intolerance. Onion allergy symptoms are red and itchy eyes and skin rashes that develop once a person comes in contact with the onion. They may also experience breathing problems after eating onions in large quantities.
On the other hand, people with onion intolerance more often experience nausea, vomiting, and other gastric discomforts as soon as they consume onions
4. Causes heartburn
Which Onion Is More Beneficial During Pregnancy?
Several types of onions are available in the Indian market. This includes Leeks, red, white, green, and spring onion. Each type is perfectly safe for expecting mothers. Each variety carries its own advantages.
- According to a source, red and yellow onions are richer in antioxidants than other types. In fact, yellow onions hold around 11 fold more antioxidants when compared to white onions
- Red onions are also effective blood thinners because they are rich sources of flavonoids
- Sometimes, you may have an aversion to eating foods with a particular taste during pregnancy. For this reason, you may want to avoid red onions. In such a case, you can opt for white onions instead. They do not have such a strong taste
- Yellow onion, or sweet onion, has a sweet taste, making it a delicious option for salads and caramelized onions
- Yellow onions are also a great option when you want to eat an onion that does not have a strong smell. Such strong smells can be very uncomfortable when you are pregnant, so opting for yellow onions negates such effects
- Shallots, or small onions, are good for your blood pressure and helps to maintain it at a healthy level
- Shallots also, like yellow onions, do not emit as strong a smell as red and white onions
- Spring onions, or scallions, are a delicious way to include both onions and leafy greens in your diet. The green part also provides nutrients like vitamin B, calcium, iron, copper, manganese, and folic acid
Let Us Wrap It Up
It can be stressful, having to find out whether the usual staples of your diet are still healthy, now that you are pregnant. This is one less thing to worry about. It is completely safe to eat onions during pregnancy, as long as you are not allergic or prone to heartburn.
And if you do experience any negative side effects, consult your doctor as soon as possible.
If you follow these precautions, you will not have to pass up this flavorful vegetable.
You can have curries in which onion is one of the ingredients as usual. However, coming to eating raw onion (as in salads, burgers, and sandwiches), it is better to limit it to one or two (depending on the size).
Raw onions are more nourishing than cooked ones. It is obvious that cooking can decrease the quantity and quality of nutrients in any vegetable. It is relevant for onions as well.
However, it is important to wash well the onions after removing the outer skin before consuming it raw. Also, try to eat sliced onion as fresh as possible. Or else, it can turn to be a breeding place for infectious microbes.
Onions are an incredibly tasty and flavorful vegetable that is used to enhance dishes all over the world. A vast number of cultures incorporate onions into their food in one way or another. But how exactly can you include it in your own menu? Here are a few ways:
-Caramelize the onions and use them as garnishes
-Pickle the onions. You can use them in your sandwiches or burgers
-Shallots can be used in several South Indian dishes
-Chop the onions and add them to salads
-Grind the onions until it is a paste. This can be used in gravies or in condiments
-The greens of spring onions can be used to flavor and improve the texture of rice