Is It Safe To Eat Onions During Pregnancy?

✔ Research-backed

Onions are widely used in most recipes around the world. However, using onions during pregnancy could be tricky since most pregnant women find their strong scent unpleasant. However, onions add to the flavor of dishes, and some women develop cravings for them when pregnant.

If you want to know more about the side effects, advisable quantities for consumption, and ways to include onion in your pregnancy diet, then read on as we discuss these aspects and more regarding onion consumption during pregnancy.

In This Article

Can You Eat Onions When Pregnant?

Pregnant women can eat onion in moderation

Image: Shutterstock

Yes, You can go right ahead and eat onions safely during your pregnancy and tantalize your taste buds. However, remember to do so in moderation, as an excess of anything may harm you and your baby’s growth during this delicate phase. Moreover, some women feel that onions make them nauseous during pregnancy. Jesse Feder, CPT, CSCS, a Florida-based personal trainer and registered dietitian, says, “During pregnancy, hormones can make your sense of smell as well as your stomach extra sensitive. Since onions are very potent in taste and smell, they can trigger a bout of nausea during pregnancy.

Deborah E. Vaux, a mom, shares about her heightened smell of pregnancy during pregnancy, “I was unaware of the way I would pick up smells from far away and how much it would trigger my gag reflex, or my hunger one. The things I normally loved, like coffee, chocolate, and Chinese foods, their smells would throw me off and make me feel sick. On the other hand, things I liked or didn’t like too much, such as pickles, red onions, and butter were smells that caused the opposite effect and I would want to eat ().’’

Health Benefits Of Eating Onions During Pregnancy

1. Detoxifies Your Body:

Amino acids, such as cysteineiA non-essential amino acid needed to make protein and the primary protein in skin, hair, and nails and methionine, found in onions help detoxify the body. These compounds work as a free radical scavenger.

2. Boosts Immunity:

Onions are rich in vitamin C. The antioxidant properties of this vital nutrient can act as an immunity booster for expecting mothers and safeguard the baby’s development (1). They also contain iron, folic acid, and calcium, which are crucial for a healthy pregnancy.

3. Cures Constipation:

Onions are a rich source of dietary fiber and can help regulate your bowel movement. If you are suffering from constipation while expecting, consuming this raw vegetable can effectively alleviate your discomfort. (2).

4. Regulates Blood Pressure:

A moderate amount of onions may help regulate blood pressure during pregnancy.

Image: Shutterstock

Raw onions are a storehouse of phytonutrientsiCompounds found in fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes that provide nutritional benefits and prevent diseases that help regulate blood pressure. Adding onions to your maternal diet can help keep high blood pressure-related complications during pregnancy like preeclampsiaiA pregnancy-related medical condition that causes high blood pressure, protein in the urine, headaches, and impaired vision , gestational hypertension, and preterm labor at bay. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, preeclampsia affects 5 to 7% of all pregnancies. Therefore, introducing onions in your diet may help you maintain a healthy blood pressure level and lower your risk of high blood pressure-related complications during pregnancy

5. Fights Gestational Diabetes:

Onions contain chromium that helps prevent insulin resistance and regulate blood sugar levels. It is a super food to fight gestational diabetes.

6. Keeps Weight Gain In Check:

Pregnant women are always worrying about piling on those extra pounds. Onions are a must-have during pregnancy as they are low in calories and fat. Go ahead and add onions to your leafy green salads and veggie sandwiches to manage your hunger pangs and promote healthy eating habits.

7. Helps Prevent Pregnancy Gingivitis:

Hormonal changes during pregnancy make your gums and teeth more vulnerable to plaque build-up, inflammation, and bleeding. Munch on onions as its antibacterial properties will help to improve your oral health during pregnancy (3).

8. Cures A Sore Throat:

Onion juice may help treat a sore throat during pregnancy

Image: Shutterstock

If you are suffering from a sore throat during pregnancy and want to avoid antibiotics. Have onion juice to treat the throat infection effectively. You can add a dash of honey to the juice for better taste (4).

protip_icon Did you know?
Onions are a good source of B vitamins and vitamin C that helps to promote healthy skin, hair, gum, and muscles (11).

According to Catherine Gervacio, a registered nutritionist-dietitian and certified nutrition exercise coach from the Philippines, “Onions are generally safe to eat during pregnancy, and they provide a lot of nutrients to your body. If you are sensitive to the smell, you can open the windows while cutting and cooking the onions, adjust the exhaust hood to high, or use other scents like essential oils to mask the smell.

“It may also be better to eat the onions cooked since raw onions retain their strong odor. You can also try making pickled onions! Nonetheless, listen to your body while going through this journey. You don’t have to tolerate onions if your body has an aversion to it.”

Side-Effects Of Having Onions During Pregnancy

Even though there are numerous health benefits of eating onions while pregnant, you should also consider its side-effects and limit your intake.

Here are some potential side-effects of eating onions in pregnancy:

1. Heartburn And Diarrhea:

Eating an excess of onion in pregnancy may increase your discomfort due to heartburn (5).

2. Breathing And Allergic Problems:

Consumption of excessive onions may lead to breathing problems

Image: Shutterstock

Some expecting females can suffer from breathing problems and an allergic reaction due to excessive consumption of onions. In extreme cases, you may also suffer from an anaphylactic shockiA strong immune response to an antigen resulting in swelling, collapsed blood vessels, fainting, and breathing difficulties that may adversely affect your pregnancy (6).

protip_icon Point to consider
People who are allergic to onion can also be allergic to garlic and sometimes asparagus, leeks, and chives due to cross reactivity of the immune system to similar proteins in the food (11).

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why am I craving onions during pregnancy?

The actual cause of cravings when pregnant is unknown. However, the craving is believed to be triggered by hormonal fluctuations, lack of nutrition, or cultural expectations. Therefore, although there might not be a specific reason for you to crave onions, as long as you continue eating a healthy diet, there’s no need to worry (7) (8).

2. Can I eat previously cut and stored raw onions when pregnant?

Yes. There is no harm in eating previously cut, raw onions during pregnancy. However, you must ensure that the onions are not stale or infected because that might increase your chances of having a foodborne illness such as ListeriosisiA foodborne illness caused by consuming raw or uncooked meat, unwashed fruits and vegetables, and unpasteurized dairy products , adversely affecting you and your unborn baby (9).

3. Can consuming onions in the first trimester of pregnancy cause miscarriage?

No clinical evidence suggests that consuming onions in the first trimester causes miscarriage. However, consuming contaminated or spoiled onions can increase the risk of foodborne illnesses during pregnancy. Foodborne issues, if not treated promptly, may adversely affect the mother’s and her unborn baby’s health.

4. Does cooking onions reduce their nutritional value?

Cooking can cause the loss of certain heat-sensitive nutrients, such as vitamins A and C. On the other hand, it can improve the bioavailability of antioxidants, such as sulfur compounds and flavonoids.

5. Can consuming onions during pregnancy lead to gas or bloating?

Onion contains fructans, a soluble fiber that some people have trouble digesting. When fructans do not fully break down in the intestine, they can ferment and produce gas and bloating (12).

Onions during pregnancy offer a wide range of health benefits, from detoxifying your body to fighting gestational diabetes, boosting immunity, and treating a sore throat, making them a great addition to prenatal nutrition. However, excess amounts of onion might also cause side effects, such as heartburn, diarrhea, or allergic reactions. Although you include them in your daily diet, you should ensure that you need to keep the intake quantity under check. Also, if you notice any concerning signs post their consumption, you should check with your doctor for timely treatment.

Infographic: Advantages Of Eating Onions For Pregnant Women

Loaded with various essential nutrients, onions are one the most used ingredients in different foods and are good for pregnant women as well. So, scroll through the infographic below to learn about the various health benefits onions provide during pregnancy.

benefits of eating onions for pregnant women (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Did you eat onions while expecting? How did it benefit you? Share you experience with other expecting moms here by leaving a comment below.

Key Pointers

  • Moderate onion consumption is safe during pregnancy.
  • Consuming onions during pregnancy may help manage blood pressure, prevent gingivitis, and enhance immunity.
  • The strong flavor and aroma of onions might make some women feel nauseous during pregnancy.
  • Overeating onions can have adverse effects such as diarrhea and allergic reactions.
onions during pregnancy_illustration

Image: Stable Diffusion/MomJunction Design Team

Personal Experience: Source

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. Onions.
    https://files.udc.edu/docs/causes/online/Onions%209.pdf
  2. Constipation Management.
    https://www.slhd.nsw.gov.au/rpa/Urology/content/pdf/Constipation%20Management.pdf
  3. Anti-Bacterial Action Of Onion (Allium Cepa L.) Extracts Against Oral Pathogenic Bacteria.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9354029/
  4. Did You Know?
    https://www.onions-usa.org/tips-onion-myths-faqs/did-you-know/
  5. The Effect Of Raw Onions On Acid Reflux And Reflux Symptoms.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2327378/
  6. Chronic Urticaria.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3276885/
  7. Food cravings during pregnancy.
    https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/food-cravings-during-pregnancy
  8. Pregnancy Cravings: What Do They Mean and What Should You Do?
    https://www.houstonmethodist.org/blog/articles/2020/feb/pregnancy-cravings-what-do-they-mean-and-what-should-you-do/
  9. FOOD SAFETY FOR PREGNANT WOMEN & THEIR BABIES.
    https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/food-safety-for-pregnant-women-their-babies/
  10. Onions.
    https://www.hss.gov.nt.ca/en/services/nutritional-food-fact-sheet-series/onions
  11. Onion And Garlic.
    https://www.anaphylaxis.org.uk/fact-sheet/onion-and-garlic-allergy/
  12. 15 Foods That Can Cause Bloating; Cleveland Clinic
    https://health.clevelandclinic.org/foods-that-cause-bloating/
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Dr. Meenu Vashisht Ahuja owns her private practice in New Delhi and works as a visiting consultant at Fortis Hospital. She has 12 years of experience and her special interests lie in infertility cases and procedures such as IUI, IVF, and ICSI.

Read full bio of Dr. Meenu Vashisht Ahuja