Do Onions Have Sodium?

Onions provide a low-sodium flavor boost to recipes.

Onions provide a low-sodium flavor boost to recipes.

From sandwiches to salads, onions add pungent flavor to a wide variety of recipes. A close relative of garlic, onions receive their strong odor from natural sulfur compounds that act as beneficial antioxidants in your body. Fresh onions are virtually sodium free, but food manufacturers often add extra sodium to processed varieties.

About Sodium

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most Americans consume an excessive amount of sodium, mostly from processed foods. A high-sodium diet contributes to high blood pressure, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, but you can reduce your risk by limiting your sodium intake to no more than 2,300 milligrams a day. Substituting flavorful veggies, like onions, for salt in your recipes can help reduce the amount of sodium you consume.

Fresh Onions

Instead of sprinkling salt on your meal before eating, add flavor to your entree with chopped fresh onions. One medium fresh onion contains 29 calories and only 12 milligrams of sodium, less than 1 percent of your recommended daily sodium intake. Like all vegetables, onions provide potassium, an electrolyte that regulates blood pressure. If you use onions as a topping for sandwiches or burgers, stick to raw or roasted onions. Topping your burger with five deep-fried onion rings adds 120 calories and 227 milligrams of sodium to your meal.

Frozen Onions

When you don’t have fresh onions on hand, frozen onions can be a healthy and convenient substitution. One 10-ounce package of frozen onions has only 34 milligrams of sodium, but onions packed in sauces or cheeses often contain added salt. One cup of frozen onions in cream sauce provides 448 milligrams of sodium, 19 percent of your daily recommended limit. If you need seasoned onions for a sandwich topper or side dish, buy plain frozen onions and flavor them with olive oil and low-sodium spices and herbs, like basil, thyme, chili powder or black pepper.

Other Varieties

Canned onions may seem like convenient options to have on hand, but most varieties are extremely high in sodium. One cup of canned onions contains 831 milligrams of sodium, 36 percent of your daily recommended limit. Look for low-sodium varieties, or use frozen or fresh onions in your recipe. When you want a light onion flavor, add a tablespoon of onion powder or dehydrated onion flakes to your dish. Onion powder and flakes are virtually sodium free, but onion salt contains 1,620 milligrams of sodium per teaspoon.

 

About the Author

Jennifer Dlugos is a Boston-based writer with more than 10 years of experience in the health-care and wellness industries. She is also an award-winning filmmaker and screenwriter who teaches screenwriting and film production classes throughout New England. Dlugos holds a master's degree in dietetics.

Photo Credits

  • Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images