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How to Use Onions to Lower Blood Sugar

author image Jill Corleone, RDN, LD
Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and lecturing on diet and health for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and in the book "Noninvasive Mechanical Ventilation," edited by John R. Bach, M.D. Corleone holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition.
How to Use Onions to Lower Blood Sugar
The sulfur compounds in onions may help improve blood sugar. Photo Credit: DAJ/amana images/Getty Images

When you're trying to manage your blood sugar, the American Diabetes Association encourages eating more non-starchy vegetables because they're low in calories and carbohydrates. Eating more onions might also help improve your blood sugar levels. Consult your dietitian to discuss how onions might fit into your diet plan.

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Onion Nutrition

Onions are low in calories and a source of many nutrients that promote good health, including fiber, B vitamins and a variety of antioxidants. A 1-cup serving of raw sliced onions has 46 calories, 10 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fiber and 1 gram of protein. They also meet 14 percent of the daily value for vitamin C, 7 percent of the daily value for manganese and vitamin B-6, and 5 percent of the daily value for folate.

Onions and Blood Sugar

If you're having difficulty managing your blood sugar, including onions in your diet may help. A 2014 review article published in Nutrition reported that preliminary research indicates that onions may have a hypoglycemic effect for people with diabetes. The authors of the article note that the sulfur compounds in onions, namely S-methylcysteine and the flavonoid quercetin, may be responsible for the effects on blood sugar. However, more research is necessary before claims and recommendations for using onions to help lower blood sugar can be made.

Tips for Adding Onions

While the jury is still out on onions and blood sugar, as a low-calorie, non-starchy vegetable, onions make a healthy addition to your diet. There are numerous ways to add onions to your daily meal plan. Sliced raw onions add zing and a ton of flavor to sandwiches and salads. You can also grill or roast thick slices and enjoy them as the vegetable with your meal. Try dicing and sauteing them with peppers, and use them as a type of relish with your meats and grains.

Servings and Serving Sizes

The American Diabetes Association recommends eating at least three to five servings of non-starchy vegetables, such as onions, a day, where one serving is equal to one-half cup cooked or 1 cup raw. If you're eating more than 1 cup cooked or 2 cups of raw onions at a meal, and you're counting carbs to control blood sugar, you may need to count those servings towards your total carb intake for that meal. For example, 2 cups of raw onions would count as 20 grams of carbs.

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