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Is Onion Good for Diabetes? Decoding the Facts

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The unique flavour of onions makes them a must-have ingredient in many Indian dishes, such as curries, fritters, raita, and parathas. Though it might cause some tears while cutting them, the health benefits onions provide, such as helping to control diabetes, may make the effort worth it.

The prevalence of diabetes has increased in recent years, making it one of the most common lifestyle diseases. It is a metabolic disorder that affects blood sugar levels. A lack of physical activity, stress, and sedentary lifestyles are some primary contributing factors. 

People with diabetes must be more mindful of their diet, as even seemingly harmless ingredients such as onions can impact their condition. So, does onion offer any health benefits to people with diabetes? Read on to find out.

Types of Onion

There are four main types of onions, each with its distinctive flavour, texture and colour. They include white, yellow, red and sweet onions.

White Onions:

White onions are the most common type of onion. They are usually mild and sweet, with pale white skin and white flesh. These onions are often used in salads, sandwiches, soups, and stews or as a garnish.

Yellow Onions:

Yellow onions have a deep golden colour and a sharp flavour that mellows when cooked. They are ideal for caramelising and are best for stews, stocks and sauces.

Red Onions:

Red onions have a deep purple colour and are slightly milder than yellow onions. They are commonly suited for grilling, roasting, salads and pickling.

Sweet Onions:

Sweet onions are the mildest of all varieties and have light yellow or white skin. They are often best for salads and sandwiches or sautéed or grilled.

No matter the onion you choose, you can be sure that it will add flavour and texture to your dishes.

Onions for diabetes – Why Should You Eat Onions for Diabetes?

Including onions in your diet can help prevent diabetes-related health issues due to their nutritional value. Onions have a variety of micronutrients and are low in calories and fats. Not only do onions add great flavour to your meals, but they also have the potential to aid in blood sugar management. 

Here are some main reasons why onion should be a part of your diabetic treatment plan.

Rich in Fibre

A recent study has revealed that onions are a great source of fructans, a type of soluble fibre that nourishes beneficial bacteria in the digestive system.

Moreover, red onions has a higher fibre content than other varieties, which can help with constipation, a common issue among people with diabetes. 

The fibre content of all onions helps to break down food molecules, aiding digestion and regulating the release of carbohydrates into the bloodstream, thus allowing for more stable blood sugar levels.

Low Glycemic Index

The glycemic index is a way of measuring how quickly or slowly carbohydrates affect blood glucose levels. For example, raw onion has a low glycemic index of 10, meaning it is a great food to incorporate into a diabetes diet. 

Research has shown that consuming low GI foods helps control blood sugar levels, as they release sugar into the bloodstream gradually.

Low Carbohydrate

Carbohydrate-rich diets can cause rapid releases of glucose in the blood, which can increase blood sugar levels, making diabetes management difficult.

To combat this, people with diabetes must eat low-carb foods. That will help them lose weight quickly and keep blood sugar levels in check.

Including onions in a weight-loss strategy can benefit those with diabetes, as it can help them lose weight and control their blood sugar levels. In addition, the low-carb content of onions makes them a safe and healthy choice when managing diabetes issues.

High in Antioxidants

Onions provide an array of antioxidant benefits due to their high concentration of flavonoid antioxidants, up to 17 different types. 

Research shows that among these flavonoids, quercetin has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects that may help reduce diabetes symptoms. 

Red onions are incredibly beneficial, as they contain anthocyanins – plant pigments from the flavonoid family that lend them deep colour.

The HealthifyMe Note

The low glycemic index of onions makes them an excellent food choice for those with diabetes – type 1, type 2, and prediabetes. Eating onions in your daily meals, such as salads and cooked vegetables, can help reduce carbohydrate and meal glycemic loads. In addition, studies have shown that consuming onions can lower blood sugar levels after eating. Adding onions to your diet is a great way to improve your health. The health benefits of onions are remarkable and should not be overlooked.

Onions and Insulin Resistance

Onions are a great addition to any diet due to their many health benefits. They contain a variety of vitamins and minerals and are low in calories. 

Studies have also found that onions may be beneficial in reducing insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a condition where the body does not respond to insulin appropriately, resulting in high blood sugar levels. 

Onions contain quercetin, a flavonoid that improves insulin sensitivity. Quercetin can reduce inflammation, improve the cells’ response to insulin, and improve blood sugar control.

Additionally, onions contain various antioxidants which help reduce oxidative stress, a significant contributor to insulin resistance. Therefore, eating onions regularly may help reduce insulin resistance, prevent diabetes, and maintain overall health.

The Best Ways to Include Onions in Your Diet

It is not yet clear how onions affect blood sugar levels, but they are low in calories and non-starchy, making them a great addition to your diet. There are many ways to include onions in your meals.

For example, add thin slices for a tangy and flavoursome kick. Also, you can grill or roast thicker slices and use them as a side dish. Furthermore, you can sauté onions with peppers and serve them as a topping for meats and cereals.

Try these blood sugar-lowering options.

Recipes

Onion Juice

  • Chop the peeled onion into small pieces and place the pieces in a blender. 
  • Add water and blend until liquid consistency forms. 
  • Use a strainer to separate the juice from the onion chunks. 
  • Mix the juice with 1-2 teaspoons of honey to sweeten and enjoy it as a drink.

Salad with Cucumber and Onion

  • Mix half an onion and half a cucumber in a bowl.
  • Add lemon juice, salt, and pepper to the mixture as desired before serving.

Conclusion

The nutrient makeup of onions makes them incredibly beneficial to one’s health. They are rich in minerals and vitamins that strengthen the immune system and help ward off various illnesses.

Additionally, their low glycemic index suggests that they can help people with diabetes manage their blood sugar with proper modifications in their diet.

Although diabetes can be tricky to manage, the necessary modifications to one’s diet will have minimal impact and still allow one to enjoy their favourite meals.

It is essential to monitor your blood sugar levels to ensure proper regulation, and HealthifyMe can help make this easier. With a subscription, you have access to continuous glucose monitoring and personalised dietary advice from a qualified dietician.

It means you can ask questions about the type of diabetes you have and be confident that the food you eat is safe. Your health is too valuable to take any chances – get the expert advice you need to stay healthy.

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

Q. Does onion raise blood sugar?

A. Onion does not directly raise blood sugar levels. However, it does contain some carbohydrates, which can affect blood sugar levels. Eating onion in moderation is safe for people with diabetes, but it is essential to keep track of your carbohydrate intake and monitor your blood sugar levels regularly. Eating too many onions can cause a spike in blood sugar, so keeping track of your intake is essential.

Q. Which onion is best for diabetes?

A. Onions are an excellent option for those with diabetes. Red onions are especially beneficial due to their high levels of chromium, which helps regulate blood sugar levels. The chromium also helps slow down the rate at which carbohydrates absorb into the bloodstream. Additionally, onions contain sulfur-containing compounds, which can help reduce inflammation and improve insulin sensitivity. Furthermore, onions are low in calories and high in fibre, both of which can help manage diabetes by promoting healthy blood sugar levels.

Q. Is raw onion good for diabetic patients?

A. Raw onion is not necessarily a good choice for people with diabetes. Onions are a low-glycemic food, so they won’t cause a rapid rise in blood sugar. However, they are high in carbohydrates, and due to their high sulfur content, they can cause digestive discomfort in some people. For people with diabetes, it is best to consult a healthcare provider about how to include onions in the diet safely and healthily.

Q. How do onions help diabetics?

A. Onion is an excellent food for people with diabetes as it can help to regulate blood sugar levels. Onions contain chromium and sulfur compounds, which help to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation. Onions also have high levels of antioxidants, which help to reduce oxidative stress in the body. As a result, eating onions can help to reduce glucose levels in the blood, which is beneficial for people with diabetes. In addition, onions can help to lower cholesterol levels, which can help to reduce the risk of heart disease in people with diabetes.

The Supporting Reference

1. Moshfegh AJ, Friday JE, Goldman JP, Ahuja JK. Presence of inulin and oligofructose in the diets of Americans. J Nutr. 1999 Jul;129(7 Suppl):1407S-11S. doi: 10.1093/jn/129.7.1407S. PMID: 10395608.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10395608/

2. Eleazu CO. The concept of low glycemic index and glycemic load foods as a panacea for type 2 diabetes mellitus; prospects, challenges and solutions. Afr Health Sci. 2016 Jun;16(2):468-79. doi: 10.4314/ahs.v16i2.15. PMID: 27605962; PMCID: PMC4994556.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4994556/

3. Eid HM, Haddad PS. The Antidiabetic Potential of Quercetin: Underlying Mechanisms. Curr Med Chem. 2017;24(4):355-364. doi: 10.2174/0929867323666160909153707. PMID: 27633685.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27633685/

4. Jafarpour-Sadegh F, Montazeri V, Adili A, Esfehani A, Rashidi MR, Pirouzpanah S. Consumption of Fresh Yellow Onion Ameliorates Hyperglycemia and Insulin Resistance in Breast Cancer Patients During Doxorubicin-Based Chemotherapy: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial. Integr Cancer Ther. 2017 Sep;16(3):276-289. doi: 10.1177/1534735416656915. Epub 2016 Jun 28. PMID: 27352956; PMCID: PMC5759935.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27352956/

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