The Underrated Vegetable This MD Puts In Almost All Of Her Meals

mbg Associate Editor By Jamie Schneider
mbg Associate Editor
Jamie Schneider is the Associate Editor at mindbodygreen, covering beauty and health. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
This underrated vegetable should be in all your meals

Ah, onions. You either love them (raw, cooked, even pickled) or despise the sight of them on your plate. Well, according to board-certified family physician Cate Shanahan, M.D., there are a host of reasons this underrated vegetable should make its way into every meal. In fact, when we asked Shanahan her favorite vegetable on the mindbodygreen podcast, she replied with zero hesitation: onions, and lots of 'em. 

So what's so great about this doctor-approved food? Here's why you'll want to toss them on everything.

Why onions?

It's no secret that onions boast some pretty impressive health benefits. First up: The vegetable is chock-full of antioxidants vitamin C and B, both of which can help stave off free radicals and reduce oxidative stress. They also contain prebiotic fiber, which helps to nourish our gut bacteria.

But the benefits don't stop there: Some research has even found onions to be associated with a lower risk of breast cancer (garlic, too, for that matter). That's because they're rich in flavanols and organosulfur compounds that "show anticarcinogenic properties in humans, as well as in experimental animal studies," Lina Mu, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor of epidemiology and environmental health at the University at Buffalo, says regarding the study. 

In terms of the types of onions (red, yellow, white, or green), the antioxidant content varies in each—and red seems to gain most of the praise, but onions as a whole pack quite a nutritional punch no matter which you pick, with albeit slightly different flavor profiles. 

Which brings us to the next reason Shanahan's a fan of those alliums: the flavor. "Onions are in every cuisine," she notes. Be it meat dishes, veggies, stocks, stews, and salads, chances are onions are part of the kitchen process. They offer a rich, complementary flavor to any dish you're whipping up (and when you cook with them, "it helps deglaze your pan," she notes). To kick off your newfound love for onions, may we suggest this summer-inspired grilled asparagus with spring onions and ramps?


The takeaway.

Onions are typically considered the base of most meals, but perhaps we should make them the star. Of course, you should always do what works best for your body (if you suffer from GI issues like IBS or SIBO, you may have trouble digesting onions). But if you're a fan of the allium, do like Shanahan and sprinkle them on most of your meals. We promise it won't get boring: From pickled to raw to roasted and sautéed, onions offer a flavor and texture that's unique with each bite. Take it from Shanahan: "There's almost nothing onions can't do." 

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