The more tears they cause, the more health benefits onions have. To stem the flood while you’re chopping, try chilling onions for about a half hour before cutting, and slice them from the top, leaving the root end intact; it has the strongest concentration of eye-burning compounds.
Be sure to wash onions well before chopping, especially if you’re going to eat them raw. Onions grow underground and can harbor nasty bacteria. Store onions in a cool, dry place, not in the fridge, and not near potatoes. Potatoes give off moisture and a gas that causes onions to spoil faster.
To reap the most benefit from onions, choose varieties with the most antioxidants. Here they’re ranked from highest to lowest (we’ve included shallots, which are related to onions). If you don’t recognize some of the names, don’t worry. Just know that sweeter or milder-tasting onions have fewer antioxidants than their more pungent counterparts.
- Western white
- Western yellow
- Imperial Valley sweet
- Northern red
Like garlic, onions can be added to just about anything. Here are just a few suggestions.
Perfect Portion: 1/4 cup
Onions have very few calories, so add them cooked or raw to as many dishes as you can think of. Minced raw onions offer the greatest health benefits.