Is It Safe To Eat Onions While Breastfeeding?

✔ Research-backed

Onion is a type of vegetable that brings out the flavor of any dish it is added to. Further, consuming onions while breastfeeding can impart various health benefits. For example, it helps in treating gestational diabetes, enhancing immunity, and preventing various diseases.

However, you should consult your healthcare provider about the amount of onion you can consume while breastfeeding since excessive consumption may cause certain undesirable side effects.

Scroll through this post to learn more about the consumption of onions while nursing, including nutritional facts about onions and the health benefits and side effects of consuming them while breastfeeding.

In This Article

Onion-Nutritional Facts

Health benefits of onion

Image: Shutterstock

Before we look at whether onions are good for you during lactation, let’s look at some nutritional facts about onions:

  • Onions are flavorful vegetables full of essential nutrients and flavonoidsiA class of naturally occurring compounds found in fruits and vegetables that have antioxidant properties and may have health benefits. .
  • These vegetables are great sources of Vitamin C, Sulphuric compounds, Flavonoids and PhytochemicalsiNatural compounds in plants have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cancer-fighting properties. .
  • Onions contain an essential anti-oxidant element named Quercetin, which helps prevent cancer.
  • Onions contain essential phytochemicals like disulfides, trisulfides, cepaene, and vinyldithiins. These elements help maintain good health and have strong antimicrobial properties.
  • The vital antioxidantsiSubstances that prevent cell damage caused by free radicals. and flavonoids present in onions, help improve heart health, reduce inflammation and decrease the risks of cancer.
  • Onions are extremely low in calories, cholesterol, sodium and unwanted fats.
  • Onions contain dietary fibers and folic acid, which helps in cell regeneration.
  • Onions are good sources of Vitamin B-complex like pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, folate, and thiamine.
  • Red onions are rich sources of chromium, which is a trace mineral that helps to regulate insulin levels in the blood. Regulation of insulin levels during pregnancy is essential to minimize gestational diabetes risk (1).

Health Benefits Of Onion While Breastfeeding

Onion offers benefits to lactating moms

Image: Shutterstock

Onion is a well-known ingredient and features in many recipes. For lactating moms, onion offers some health benefits, which include:

  • Boosts immunity

The high Vitamin C content of onions boosts the immune system for lactating moms.

  • Increases good cholesterol

Onions help boost HDL cholesterol levels in lactating mothers, and help you maintain a healthy lipid profile.

  • Detoxifies blood cells

Essential amino acids like methionine and cystine, help detoxify the blood cells and maintain a healthy body.

protip_icon Quick fact
Onions contain flavonols, allicin, and saponins that can help strengthen the immune system and promote overall health (4).
  • Cures gestational diabetes

Many pregnant women have the tendency to suffer from diabetes during pregnancy. Sometimes gestational diabetes continues in the breastfeeding phase too. Onions possess anti-diabetic properties, which help reduce diabetic issues.

  • Anti-bacterial

The anti-bacterial and antimicrobial property of onion helps protect you from microbial or bacterial infections.

  • Anti-inflammatory

Onions contain a special element Quercetin. It is an effective anti-inflammatory agent that helps nursing moms get relief from asthma or shortness of breath.

  • Digestion

The fibers present in onions help digestion and reduce the risk of diarrhea or gastric ulcers in lactating mothers.

  • Regulates blood sugar levels

Onions contain chromium, which helps regulate the blood sugar levels of lactating mothers (1).

Side Effects Of Eating Onions While Breastfeeding

Onions have many health benefits, but just like other foods, an excess can lead to nasty side effects, some of which include:

  • Skin Hives with intense itching.
  • Eczema- a dry skin problem
  • Eye infection
  • Runny nose
  • Nausea and Vomiting
Side effects of having onions while breastfeeding

Image: Shutterstock

  • Breathing Problems
  • A feeling of bloating in the abdomen
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Nursing mothers taking anticoagulantsiMedications that prevent blood clots. like warfarin should consume onions with caution as they have potential anti-coagulant effects (5).

Can You Eat Onions While Breastfeeding?

Let’s answer the main question now.

  • Onions are rich sources of essential nutrients and antioxidants. But excessive onion consumption can elevate the tendency of heartburn in nursing mothers.
  • If you have allergies to certain food elements, it is better to consult your dietician before including such vegetables in the maternal diet. People intolerant to onions may suffer from red and itchy eyes.
  • Carbohydrates present in onions can induce problems of bloating and the lactating mother can suffer from serious health issues.
protip_icon Did you know?
The sulfur compound in onions gets inactivated in lower temperates. So chill onions before cutting them and enjoy tear-free cooking (6).

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do onions give breastfed babies gas?

There are no adequate studies on the effect of onions on infant gut health. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that several new mothers noticed gassiness in their babies when they consumed onions and other spicy foods while breastfeeding (2).

2. Can onion flavor breast milk?

It is known that food and beverage flavors might impact breast milk taste (3). If you suspect the baby does not like the breast milk’s flavor after you consume onions, you may eliminate it from the maternal diet to check if it helps.

3. Can onions interfere with my baby’s sleep patterns while breastfeeding?

Studies have shown that when a breastfeeding mother consumes excessive amounts of onions, they can interfere with the digestive system of the breastfed infant, causing colic and gas formation. These symptoms will make the child uncomfortable and fussy, which will, in turn, lead to disturbed sleeping patterns (7).

Onions contain several nutrients such as vitamin C, flavonoids, and essential phytochemicals. Consumption of onions while breastfeeding may boost the immunity of lactating mothers, increase their good cholesterol, and aid digestion. This vegetable’s anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties help relieve many health symptoms and keep mothers healthy. However, consuming onions in excess may cause skin hives, nausea, and breathing problems. Therefore, consult your doctor on the right amount of consumption to stay away from the side effects.

Infographic: Potential Benefits Of Onion For Breastfeeding Women

Onion is a common vegetable that adds texture, aroma, and flavor to different dishes. But did you know that onions also hold several benefits for lactating women? Check out the infographic below to learn how adding onion to your nursing diet can support your overall health when breastfeeding and beyond.

how do onions benefit nursing moms (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Key Pointers

  • Onions are a rich source of vitamins, flavonoids, antioxidants, and phytochemicals.
  • The antioxidant Quercetin, present in onions, exhibits anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
  • For lactating mothers, onions can help boost immunity, increase good cholesterol, detoxify blood cells, cure gestational diabetes, and promote digestion.
  • Over-consumption of onions may lead to skin hives, nausea, and breathing problems in some women.
  • Onions may also cause gassiness in breastfed babies and affect the flavor of the breast milk.
Onions While Breastfeeding_illustration

Image: Stable Diffusion/MomJunction Design Team

References

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Health Benefits of Eating Red Onions.
    https://www.healwithfood.org/health-benefits/eating-red-onions.php
  2. What’s causing gas in my breastfed baby?
    https://women.texaschildrens.org/blog/whats-causing-gas-my-breastfed-baby#:~:text=If%20you%20notice%20that%20each,tolerate%20these%20foods%20just%20fine
  3. Monica Kidd et al., (2019); “Something is wrong with your milk”
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6515974/
  4. EatRightEatColor.
    https://www.fanconi.org/images/uploads/other/Nutritional_Handouts_for_website.pdf
  5. K K Nagda et al.; (1983); Effect of onion and garlic on blood coagulation and fibrinolysis in vitro.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6885127/
  6. Onion; USDA.
    https://dpi.wi.gov/sites/default/files/imce/school-nutrition/pdf/fact-sheet-onion.pdf
  7. Colic
    https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/colic
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Dr. Dur Afshar Agha is a consultant pediatrician with around 26 years of experience in various medical facilities both in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. She has headed the Department of Preventive Pediatrics at the prestigious, Children’s Hospital and Institute of Child Health in Pakistan and is a life member of the Pakistan Paediatric Association. She has also completed her Post...read full bio