Onions are a key ingredient in some of our favorite dishes and impart a wholesome flavor.
They are also healthy. Packed with tons of nutrients and antioxidants, they have anti-inflammatory properties.
They are a great source of vitamin C to help your immune system and repair your tissues, as well as an anti-oxidant called quercetin that has been shown to lower blood pressure.
Onions are mildly acidic and both healthy and delicious. So are they good for those who have acid reflux and heartburn?
That’s a little bit more complicated.
In this article, we’ll look at whether organs are acidic or alkaline and how they affect your body, especially for people who have acid reflux, heartburn, and GERD.
Are Onions Acidic?
Onions are mildly acidic. They range from 5 to 5.8 on the pH scale.
There are many different types of onions, including red onions, yellow onions, and green onions and they are all technically mildly acidic, although they vary in the content of acid.
Green onions are the most alkaline, ranging from 6-7 on the pH scale.
All onions are mildly acidic because they all contain the same acids – sulfur, pantothenic acid, and ascorbic acid.
It is the sulfur that makes you cry when you are cutting onions.
When your knife plunges into an onion, it sends up a spray of tiny molecules, including sulfur (as a part of a compound).
When this sulfuric compound reacts with the surface of your eye, it forms a sulfuric acid that is irritating and dangerous to your eyes.
To protect yourself (and encourage you to walk away), your body produces extra tears to dilute the acid and make you uncomfortable so that you will stop chopping.
The acids in onions are not all negative – ascorbic acid is a form of vitamin C, and pantothenic acid is a form of B6. These are healthy in the right amounts, but they make the pH of onions lower than it would be otherwise.
Different varieties of onion have different pH values. So, green onions are less acidic than white onions, which are less acidic than yellow onions.
But you can count on all onions to be mildly acidic because they contain the same acids.
Are Onions Bad For Acid Reflux?
There is a documented link between onions and acid reflux – they are best avoided.
We know that onions are mildly acidic. When you eat onions, that acidity contributes to the environment in your stomach. Eating acidic foods can decrease (acidify) the pH in your stomach.
However, that’s not really why onions are bad for people with acid reflux. The mild acidity of onions won’t significantly decrease the pH in your stomach.
You would need pounds and pounds of raw onions to acidify your stomach based on pH alone.
Onions actually contain different compounds called FODMAPs, which is the reason you should avoid them if you have acid reflux, heartburn, or GERD.
FODMAP is an acronym that stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols
These kinds of carbs are difficult or impossible for the body to digest completely, and on average the stomach will spend a lot more energy and acid on breaking down these types of compounds than it does on other foods.
The harder something is to digest, the more time and stomach acid are required, heightening the risk for symptoms of acid reflux.
Onions and garlic are both FODMAPs that many people struggle to digest.
If you are lucky enough not to experience acid reflux, you probably never think twice about whether a meal includes onion or garlic.
However, many who start to experience these symptoms are immediately able to tie it back to the meals they ate with garlic or onions.
These are common triggers for symptoms of acid reflux. Adding onion or garlic – especially raw – to any dish will make it practically off-limits to sufferers of severe acid reflux.
Unfortunately, even green onions and red onions have these FODMAPs, so although they are less acidic and more alkaline, they cause the same kind of problems for sufferers of acid reflux.
If you want to enjoy the great flavor of onions without all of the complications in terms of acid reflux, your best bet is to use green onions or shallots when necessary or use onion oil.
These onions retain the flavor while removing the actual onion entirely.
Do Onions Give You Heartburn?
If you don’t normally suffer from symptoms of acid reflux, onions are a pretty neutral food that you probably shouldn’t be too afraid of.
A normal serving of onion (raw or cooked) won’t have any effect on most people and is unlikely to cause a stomach upset or acid reflux. If you don’t have a history of these symptoms, you probably don’t have to give it another thought.
However, if you do have a history of mild, moderate, or severe acid reflux, it is worth looking at when symptoms occur and asking yourself whether they are tied to onions or garlic.
Many people who have acid reflux need to avoid “trigger foods” and onions are a common one.
They are also so common that you might not immediately recognize when something includes onion. Many products are made from onion that is added as a powder or blended so that you don’t see it.
Are Onions Alkaline?
Onions are technically mildly acidic.
However, the effect that they have on your body is alkalizing. This can be confusing, but one of the best ways to explain it is with lemon water.
Lemon juice is extremely acidic. It’s one of the most acidic substances that you can put into your body.
However, drinking a cup of water with lemon juice in it can alkalize your stomach, neutralize stomach acid and resolve the symptoms of acid reflux, heartburn, and GERD.
One of the most common remedies for acid reflux is a glass of water with lemon juice.
This is because the actual acidity of the foods you put in your stomach has less to do with your stomach acidity than with your kidney and lungs.
Confusingly, the acid in your stomach is more regulated by your lungs and kidneys than the foods you put in it.
Therefore, the important thing is not the pH of the foods that you eat, but rather the potential renal acid load (PRAL) – this measures the acidifying or alkalizing effects that the foods you eat have on your body.
For example, lemon juice is very acidic but has a very low potential renal acid load. Therefore, it has an alkalizing effect on the stomach.
As we have seen, onions are mildly acidic. When onions reach your stomach they have an alkalizing effect. This would be helpful if onions weren’t full of FODMAPs that work against this alkalinity by increasing your stomach acid.
You can’t technically say that onions are alkaline, even though they have an alkalizing effect on your body, and it’s hard to see this in practice, because onions make almost every case of acid reflux worse, rather than better.
Are Onions Healthy?
Onions are a great thing to include in your diet, especially if you’re not suffering from acid reflux, heartburn, or GERD. They include tons of great nutrients, including vitamin B and vitamin C.
Both onions and garlic are anti-inflammatories, and they are full of antioxidants. One of these is quercetin, which studies have shown is effective at lowering blood pressure.
In ancient times, onions were prescribed for many ailments, from headaches to the flu. Onions were both cooked and eaten, and rubbed on body parts to get the best effects!
For centuries, we have understood that onions have positive health effects and medicinal uses.
Unfortunately, if you do have acid reflux, it’s probably better to avoid onion and garlic altogether because of the FODMAP content.
Do Cooking Onions Make Them Better For Acid Reflux?
All onions hurt acid reflux and can trigger acid reflux symptoms. This is true of green onions, red onions, white onions, yellow onions, and especially pickled onions. They are all full of the FODMAPs that make acid reflux worse.
However, there is a difference between cooked onions and raw onions when it comes to both acidity and the effect on your stomach.
Cooking onions helps to reduce the sulfur content and to denature some of the acids. Softening onions by steaming or pan-frying them lowers the sulfur content, making them less acidic and more alkaline.
In contrast, raw onions are infamous for triggering acid reflux.
This doesn’t mean that cooking onions makes them a good idea for people who have acid reflux. This will only reduce the number of FODMAPs.
Cooked onions are still a major trigger for people who have acid reflux and are best avoided.
What Are The Best Onion Replacements?
If you suffer from acid reflux but you love the flavor of onions and their place in your favorite dishes, don’t despair!
Onion is used as a “flavor base” that enhances other flavors. Without the onion, sometimes dishes come out flavorless and flat.
Thankfully, you can replace the onion in most dishes with one of these replacements that won’t cause acid reflux.
The smallest member of the onion family, chives look like tiny green onions and have a similar flavor. They are much kinder on your stomach for acid reflux than onions are, and they have a delicate flavor that makes almost anything better.
In soups, stews, sauces, and bases, you can replace chopped and sauteed onions with leeks. Leeks are even healthier than onions, and they can help to build up a lot of flavor.
Although fresh fennel and fennel seeds have a kind of licorice flavor, cooked fennel brings out a sweet onion flavor that can round out a soup or stew.
3 Delicious Onion Recipes To Try
Onions are an essential part of almost every meal. Everyone loves the flavor and texture it provides to the dish, but sometimes, despite the need, we have to skip the idea of onion addition because they are mildly acidic and cause acid reflux.
Despite being acid, onions still have several dishes options to choose from as a meal, be it lunch or dinner.
To shorten your search and ease the process, we have picked the three onion recipes that no one would like to ignore.
Best Onion Recipes
|Caramelized Onion & Garlic Pasta
|587 Per Serving
|Family-Favorite Caramelized Onions
|135 Per Serving
|Dad’s Creamed Peas & Pearl Onions
|322 Per Serving
The caramelized onion and garlic pasta are meant for you if you are a pasta lover. Garlic pasta with caramelized onion and slices of bacon brings out a must-have dish that no one would like to miss.
This dish is loved by children too, so if you want, you can plan to make this dish for your child’s next party. It’s a delicious dish to try when you are running out of dinner ideas, and your guests will love this version of onion and pasta.
Calories: 587 Per Serving
Preparation Time: 1 Hour
Caramelized onions are a dish that not only adults enjoy, but children also love happily.
So whether you choose it as the burger toppings or combine it with your next pizza, you will be delighted to see the golden brown caramelized onion with an authentic taste.
Although making the caramelized onions is lengthy, the result is worth that time. In addition, you will be able to store them in the refrigerator for your future dishes to garnish with them.
Calories: 135 Per Serving
Preparation Time: 1 Hour
Are you running out of ideas for a Thanksgiving or Christmas party? Don’t worry; we have covered it with creamed peas and pearl onions. There will be hardly any individual who won’t like the creamy peas and some irresistible spices.
It is an easy-to-make recipe and hardly takes half an hour to prepare. Although it’s a simple recipe, if you want, you can add the ingredients you wish to make according to your preference.
Calories: 322 Per Serving
Preparation Time: 30 Minutes
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Onion GERD Friendly?
Onions can trigger the symptoms if you suffer from acid reflux or heartburn. Onion stimulates acid, so limiting the onion intake would always be a great idea.
If you still want to have onions, you might consider different onions by eating a small amount to see how they affect your health.
Are Cooked Onions Less Acidic Than Raw?
Cooked or raw onions have nothing to do with acidic reflux. So, if you love onions and can’t leave, you should consider having green onions or shallots to check out their effect.
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