Onions and Diabetes

Onions and Diabetes


Glycemic index:


Calories per 100 g:

45 kcal

Onions and other “bulb” family members have similar nutritional profiles. Thanks to their sulfur-containing components, onions provide a wide range of health benefits for diabetes and have been used traditionally to treat it with great success. We’ll see more on this and what research on onions and diabetes has to say in this article.


Nutritional value

  • Protein 0.92 g
  • Carbohydrate 10.11 g
  • Fat 0.08 g
  • Fiber 1.4 g
  • Sugar 4.28 g
  • Cholesterol 0 g

Is Eating Onions Beneficial For Diabetes?

Onions are high in antioxidants — molecules that prevent cellular damage that might contribute to diabetes. They include approximately 25 different types of flavonoid antioxidants.

Onions also aid blood sugar regulation, which is particularly important for persons with diabetes or prediabetes. They have been shown to reduce blood sugar levels in animal experiments and human studies. Additionally, anthocyanins, which are potent plant pigments that protect against diabetes, are also abundant in red onions. They also contain antibacterial qualities, which defend against infection, which is quite common among people with diabetes.


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How Are Onions Helpful in Diabetes Management?

Here are some top reasons why the consumption of onions is advised for people with diabetes.


Low Carbohydrate Intake

People with diabetes are frequently recommended to increase their intake of low-carb foods. Onions are low in carbs, with just 19.6 g in one red onion weighing roughly 6.9 oz. Onions are also low in calories, with a similar serving size offering less than 90 calories. Hence, they can be consumed as part of a healthy weight-loss regimen essential for diabetes.



Onions, particularly red onions, are high in fiber — you get as much as 4.33 g of fiber content in just one red onion weighing roughly 6.9 oz. Fiber takes longer to digest and break down, resulting in a delayed release of glucose into the bloodstream. It also gives your stool more volume and may help with constipation — a significant issue among people with diabetes.


Aids Blood Sugar Control

Due to the several beneficial components in onions, consuming them may help reduce high blood sugar, especially for persons with diabetes or prediabetes. Onion components such as quercetin and sulfur compounds have anti-diabetic properties. Quercetin, in particular, has shown potential in regulating blood sugar levels.


Low Glycemic Index (GI)

With a GI score of just 10, onions enlist as a low GI food. This is very beneficial for people with diabetes as foods with a low glycemic index (GI) prevent sudden blood glucose level spikes when ingested.


What Research Has to Say on the Benefits of Onions for People with Diabetes

Onions have long been used to treat diabetes, with onion extracts proven to help lower blood glucose levels. The enzymes involved in the breakdown and digestion of starches and other carbohydrates and those that mediate glucose metabolism are inhibited by onion and its components.

Specifically, onions have been proven to increase insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake in cells. In type 1 and type 2 diabetes patients, preliminary trials revealed that consuming 3.5 oz of onions reduced fasting blood glucose levels. This same dose of onions was found to reduce induced hyperglycemia in type 1 and type 2 diabetes significantly.

Several animal studies on onions and diabetes also prove this vegetable's blood sugar regulation effects. Diabetic rats fed with 5% onion extract for 28 days had lower fasting blood sugar and much less body fat than the control group. This suggests that onion aids the management of diabetes by decreasing lipid levels.

Furthermore, onions can help reduce inflammation, which is a root cause of diabetes and various other metabolic problems.


Serving Sizes and How to Eat Onions for People with Diabetes

If you're counting carbs to control blood sugar and eat more than one cup of cooked or two cups of raw onions, you may need to include its carb content in your total carb content. For example, two cups of raw onions offer 20 g of carbohydrates. The reason behind this is that the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends 3–5 servings of non-starchy veggies like onions, where one serving amounts to a half cup of cooked or one cup of raw onions.

Overall, the ideal method to incorporate onions into your diet is to use them fresh in salads, soups, and stews, where the nutritious value of the vegetables is preserved.



The ADA recommends eating more non-starchy veggies like onions if you're trying to control your blood sugar because they're low in calories and carbohydrates. Hence, increasing your onion consumption is a good decision in your diabetes management journey.

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