Aside from the staple spices of salt and pepper, there are a few other spices that are staples in almost every recipe.
While onions are technically a vegetable at heart, it also acts as a spice providing tons of flavor and aromatics to almost everything you use it in.
Are onions keto friendly? Onions are keto-friendly and may be consumed while following a ketogenic diet. Onion powder and dried minced onion may offer more in terms of flavor for fewer carbohydrates, making it a more keto-friendly option.
In this article, I’ll go over how many carbohydrates are in different onions, onion variations, the health benefits, and why you may or may not want to include them in YOUR ketogenic diet.
Are Onions A Keto-Friendly Vegetable To Avoid?
Onions, they may make you cry, but they sure are delicious and used as a staple by man individuals. Aside from salt and pepper, using other keto-friendly spices like garlic and onion are a necessity in my household.
Depending on how much onion you use while you cook, onion can either enhance or hinder your metabolic state of ketosis.
Onions indeed have a little more carbohydrates and less fiber than some vegetables, but most people aren’t eating as much onion as they are other vegetables like spinach.
If you’re cooking and using onions sparingly, using 1/4 to even 1/2 of a medium onion to enhance a recipe provides very few net carbs.
However, if you’re eating the entire or even multiple onions a day, then you need to use less onion, switch to dried minced onion or onion powder, or eliminate them.
This next section will cover how many carbs you may expect to get by using onions in your ketogenic diet.
How Many Carbs Are In Onions
First, it doesn’t matter which kind of onion you prefer; they will all generally fall close or around the net carbs listed below.
This means whether you prefer white onions, yellow onions, or even sweet onion, they all generally have the same amount of net carbohydrates per gram and are considered keto-friendly when used in moderation.For one medium onion (110g), you can expect to consume 10.3g of total carbohydrates with 1.9g of fiber, leaving you with 8.4g of net carbs for an entire medium-sized onion.
Since most people aren’t using an entire onion, for a fourth or half an onion, you’d only be ingesting between ~2-4g of net carbs.
Worst case scenario, you love onions so much that you use the entire onion, you’re consuming 8.4g of net carbs. Just make sure you include the 8.4 grams in your daily total, and you can easily still fit in a few more carbs depending on how many you eat per day.
Is onion powder keto friendly? Onion powder is keto friendly and has 5 grams of net carbs per tablespoon (7g). One tablespoon of dried onion powder is the recommended substitute for one medium-sized onion in most recipes. 1 2
Is dried minced onion flakes keto friendly? Dried minced onion flakes are keto friendly and have 3.7 grams of net carbs per tablespoon (5g). Three tablespoons of dried onion flakes are the recommended substitute for a medium-sized onion. 3 To get the most bang for your buck flavor-wise with the least amount of carbohydrates, it seems as if onion powder would be the way to go.
Comparing the three, to achieve the equivalent of a medium-sized onion with the various onion spices you’re left with:
- Medium onion – 8.4g of net carbs
- Onion powder – 5g of net carbs
- Dried minced onion flakes – 11.1g of net carbs
Health Benefits Of Onions
Onions are members of the same Allium genus of flowering plants, which includes garlic, shallots, and chives. Funny enough, allium is the Latin word for garlic, which includes about 500 species. 4
The use of onions for its medicinal properties has been used by ancient civilizations to treat ailments such as mouth sores to headaches. 5
Here are a few health benefits of onions.
May benefit heart health
Onions are rich in quercetin, a flavonoid antioxidant.
In a study involving 70 overweight people with high blood pressure, a dose of just 162mg per day of quercetin onion extract reduced systolic blood pressure up to 6 mmHg 6
Another study involving 54 women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) found that consuming raw red onions (about half a medium-sized onion) over eight weeks reduced their LDL (bad) cholesterol 7
Rich in antioxidants
Onions contain over 25 different flavonoid antioxidants. 8
Antioxidants are substances that inhibit oxidation and may protect your cells against free radicals, which play a role in certain diseases like cancer and heart disease.
One flavonoid in particular, anthocyanin, is found in red onions. Anthocyanin is a powerful plant pigment that may protect against diseases like cancer and diabetes 9
Help control blood sugar
A study in 42 people with type 2 diabetes showed that eating the equivalent of a medium-sized fresh red onion (100g) reduced fasting blood sugar by 40 mg/dl. 10
Onions can fight bacteria such as E.coli and Staphylococcus aureus. 11 Also, purple and yellow onion extract has been shown to inhibit the growth of the bacteria Vibrio cholera, a major public health concern. 12
Can boost digestive health
Onions are rich prebiotics inulin and fructooligosaccharides. These prebiotics in onions help increase the number of friendly bacteria in your gut and can even help improve immune functions. 13
Probiotics are the non-digestible fiber that is broken down by your gut bacteria that feed on probiotics and create short-chain fatty acids that strength gut health, reduce inflammation, and enhance digestion 14
May help fight cancer
Eating vegetables like onions have been linked to a lower risk of cancers such as colorectal and stomach cancer.
A meta-analysis, which is a combination of multiple studies, found that participants with the highest onion intake had a 15% reduced risk of colorectal cancer 15
Onions also contain certain flavonoid antioxidants that may inhibit tumor growth 16
May improve bone density
Onions are believed to help boost antioxidant levels and decrease bone loss, which may help prevent osteoporosis and increase bone density, especially in women.
In one study, women who consumed 3.4 ounces of onion juice daily over eight weeks had improved bone mineral and antioxidant activity 17
In another study, women who most frequently ate onions decreased their risk of hip fracture by over 20% and had 5% greater overall bone density. 18
Why Are Onions Bad For Keto?
There is nothing especially dangerous when it comes to eating onions that make it detrimental for a ketogenic diet.
Unless you find yourself eating too many onions that it throws you over your carbohydrate threshold, then there’s nothing to worry about in that regard.
However, eating onions can cause problems for specific individuals.
Those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or other digestive issues may find that onions can cause gas and bloat. 19
Onions, especially when consumed raw, may cause or worsen heartburn on keto if you’re a sufferer of GERD or chronic heartburn. 20 As long as you don’t experience any digestive discomfort, and can eat onions in moderation, there’s no reason why you need to eliminate them from your ketogenic diet.
Keto-Friendly Onion Recipes
If you’re looking to add some more onion to your diet, there’s plenty of easy ways to do so. Here are a few easy tips on how you can add onions to your diet, and some of my favorite recipes that make onions take more of a central role.
- Use chopped onion in some fresh guacamole
- Sautee onions and place atop any protein (beef, chicken, etc.)
- Throw onions in a stir-fry
- In chili or any other soup
- Homemade salsa
And for some inspiration for you keto cooks.
Keto blooming onion
If you’re familiar with Chili’s awesome blossom, then you’ll love this keto inspired recipe using coconut flour for a low-carb version. Feel free to use another flour, like almond, if you prefer.
I’ve used both flours with this recipe, and they came out fantastic each time.
Photo and recipe courtesy of The Soccer Mom Blog
Keto French onion soup
I make this French onion soup using some beef bone broth (I use kettle and fire bone broth), but feel free to use homemade or whatever you have available.
Keto bacon wrapped onion rings
Bet you never thought of this spin on the classic onion ring. Bacon goes with just about anything!
All you need for this recipe is a single large onion and a package of pork or turkey bacon .
Photo and recipe courtesy of Stylish Cravings
Keto onion bomb
You’ve heard of fat-bombs or stuffed peppers, but have you ever tried stuffed onions?
This is my new go-to recipe when it comes to stuffed anything, definitely more flavorful than stuffed peppers.
There you have it, folks, not only is onion keto-friendly, but it turns out that onions may offer us some health benefits that are still being explored.
Whether you’re looking to add fresh onion, onion powder, or dried minced onion, you’ll be adding tons of flavor with very little in the way of net carbs.