Comparing white and red onions | Important differences

Onions are almost the main ingredient of Russian cuisine. Thanks to the fact that it stores well – root crops in the right conditions can lie for years – and at the same time has a rich taste, not limited to only spicy hues, it has become popular and is used in a huge number of dishes. Unsweetened baked goods, salads, meat and fish dishes, canned foods, soups – this is by no means a complete list of products for the preparation of which onions are used.

However, there are different kinds of onions. Even in the form of root vegetables. For example, in stores and markets you can find white and red onions. Let’s figure out what the differences are between them and what are the useful properties of each of these varieties.

White onion

White onions

White onion is one of the most common varieties of this root vegetable in Russia. It is cultivated both in the midlands and in the south. The agricultural popularity of this vegetable is due to the fact that it is easy to grow and care for, as well as long stored and does not require a lot of water to mature.

In addition, white onions are characterized by a rather unusual taste. It has spicy flavors, but not predominant. The flavor palette is rich, from sweet to “fiery. And when it is cooked or pickled, the spiciness disappears almost completely, but the characteristic flavor remains.

That is why white onion is so widely used in cooking. When boiled or fried, it loses its sharpness, but retains its flavor – that is, it enhances the taste of the finished dish without altering it. And when pickled they become very spicy, so that you can even eat them on their own without fear of burning your throat.

In the fresh form of a white onion is used quite rarely. They are added to salads or as a garnish to fish or meat dishes. Nevertheless, fresh white onions retain their characteristic sharpness – and as a consequence, eating them “just like that” can be quite unpleasant. Fortunately, it pickles quickly, immediately after contact with vinegar or other marinades, so the spiciness is lost already during the preparation of the salad.

White onions are also widely used in cosmetology, and in folk medicine. The large amount of phytoncides and essential oils contained in this root vegetable make it a good antiseptic. White onion in its raw form is used in the treatment of various infectious diseases, skin boils and blisters, acne, burns, frostbite. Mask of grinded onion improves hair growth, strengthens the epidermis of the head and helps to slow down, if not stop alopecia. Also phytoncides and essential oils contribute to the removal of cholesterol from the body.

However, these active ingredients can exacerbate diseases of some internal organs (including the stomach and heart), as well as increase acidity and blood pressure. So this vegetable should be eaten with caution. Also, it should not be given to children under 2 years of age.

In general, white onions are characterized as follows:

  1. Used in fresh, pickled, boiled and fried form. Used very widely – found in almost all unsweetened dishes of Russian cuisine. Especially known as a seasoning for meat and fish dishes, is able to mask the characteristic taste of beef, which is not to everyone’s liking;

  2. Contains a huge number of useful substances, which include natural phytoncides and essential oils. They have excellent antiseptic and antimicrobial properties, thanks to which onions in various forms are used to treat many diseases;

  3. Suitable for folk treatmentInfectious diseases (including colds), skin abscesses and blisters, burns and frostbite. Strengthens the immune system. Reduces the level of cholesterol in the blood. In cosmetology, it is used for the folk treatment of acne, as well as to strengthen the scalp and prevent baldness;

  4. Among the negative factors– Increases acidity, raises blood pressure, irritates mucous membranes, can aggravate stomach, heart and liver diseases. White onions should not be given to children under 2 years of age.

It should also be noted that the essential oils of white onions are extremely volatile. This means that after consuming it, an unpleasant odor appears in the mouth. And it can be quite difficult to get rid of it – it persists even after brushing your teeth.

However, during thermal treatment, the essential oils from the root crop are lost. That is why this vegetable, when boiled or fried, loses its characteristic odor.

So, let’s summarize.


  • Rich palette of flavors – sharp in fresh, spicy in pickled, sweet in fried or boiled; Excellent antiseptic properties due to the high content of phytoncides and volatile essential oils;

  • Widely used in folk medicine and cosmetology;

  • Draws out cholesterol.


  • Causes bad breath, which does not disappear even after brushing your teeth;

  • Causes high blood pressure and increases acidity;

  • Can lead to exacerbation of diseases of some internal organs.

Dishes with white onions should be used with caution in acute diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. Its active ingredients irritate the mucous membranes, which may lead to exacerbation of symptoms. In addition, you should not abuse onions in folk medicine – instead of treating colds or there other infectious diseases, you can “get” gastritis or heartburn.

Red Onion

Red Onion

Red onion is not a very popular vegetable in “our latitudes. It is usually imported from southern countries because this root crop requires high temperatures to mature. And climatic conditions have a great influence on the taste of red onions.

It is very difficult to say what red onions taste like. It is usually characterized by a very strong pungency, but some of the individual root vegetables may be sweet. The taste of red onions depends largely on growing conditions.

Red onions can be used just like white onions. However, in the absolute majority of cases they are consumed fresh. When cooked, it loses both its taste and aroma qualities, and loses all of its beneficial properties.

Red onions are very useful. This vegetable is characterized by a very high content of vitamin C – it is even more than in lemons or apples. Red onions also contain B, PP, and E vitamins. There is also a huge amount of anthocyanins – natural antiseptics, which give the root vegetable a characteristic red color.

Anthocyanins have excellent antimicrobial, antibiotic and antiseptic properties. That is why red onions are excellent against infectious diseases and can also be used as internal and external antiseptic. In addition, anthocyanins are antioxidants that help fight the aging process of the body, reduce the risk of diabetes and cancer.

Of course, the large amount of anthocyanins, phytoncides and essential oils make red onions quite a dangerous product for people with GI diseases. It can cause exacerbations of gastritis, pancreatitis, ulcers, is quite “heavy” for the liver and heart. Therefore, you should use red onions with utmost caution.

In general, red onions are characterized as follows:

  1. Used mostly fresh. Can’t be pickled well and when cooked lose their health and taste properties. Tastes from sweet to scalding spicy depending on the variety and growing conditions. It is used in salads, sandwiches, as part of side dishes to meat and fish dishes;

  2. Contains many useful substances, Among them are vitamin C, anthocyanins, phytoncides, and essential oils. That is why red onion not only helps to fight various diseases, including colds, but also strengthens the immune system;

  3. Because of its antiseptic properties it helps to cure diseases such as parboiling, boiling, and parenteraldehydeIn the treatment of a variety of infectious diseases, both external and internal. Helps relieve inflammation, blisters, corns, and other problems. Reduces cholesterol levels and reduces the risk of diabetes, cancer and other problems;

  4. Negative factors include– Danger to the gastrointestinal organs. Can cause exacerbation of kidney, liver or stomach problems. Of course, it should not be eaten by children under two years of age.

However, there are not many aromatic essential oils in red onions. So it does not cause persistent bad breath. If they do taste, it is usually enough to brush your teeth or chew gum, but these are basic rules of hygiene.

Phytoncides and anthocyanins also have rejuvenating properties. They actively fight free radicals that cause the aging of cells and body tissues.

However, because of their high potency, red onions are rarely used in cosmetology. Onions and mashed potatoes may cause skin irritations which, in severe cases, may turn into burns. This is why it is better to use it internally, and in limited quantities.

So, to summarize.


  • It contains a huge number of active nutrients, including vitamins, phytoncides, essential oils and anthocyanins;

  • It has excellent antimicrobial and antibiotic properties, helps both to strengthen the immune system and to fight existing diseases;

  • Removes cholesterol from the body.


  • Unpredictable taste. Red onions, even from the same batch, can be both sweet and fiery-spicy;

  • Strongly irritates the mucous membranes, leading to exacerbation of existing diseases of the gastrointestinal tract.

In general, moderation is the key when consuming red onions. If it is eaten simply as a condiment and a part of salads or side dishes it will be useful. But if you use it immoderately, uncontrollably, trying to cure something with it, then there is a high risk of “encountering” its harmful effects.



So, white onion is tastier, safer and can be used in any dish, while red onion is a treasure trove of useful substances. But this is not the only difference between the two types of vegetables.


White Onion

Red Onion


Rich. From sweet to savory and spicy. varies depending on the method of cooking

Variety. Even onions from the same batch may have different tastes. Gets lost in cooking (boiling or frying)


Very intensive thanks to the high content of essential oils

Not strong enough. Disappears during thermal treatment

Directions for use

Fresh, marinated, fried and boiled


Its main active ingredients are

Phytoncides, essential oils

Phytoncides, anthocyanins, vitamins C, B, E and PP

Main beneficial effect

Anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial

Anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, immunostimulating, antibacterial


Increases acidity, increases blood pressure, people with gastrointestinal diseases should use with caution

Highly irritating to the mucous membranes. People with diseases of the gastrointestinal tract or internal organs should be used with utmost caution

Bad breath

Leads to an unpleasant, persistent bad breath that cannot be gotten rid of even with gum or brushing your teeth

Weak, easily neutralized by chewing gum or toothpaste

Both varieties of onion should be eaten with caution, since they all irritate the sensitive mucous membranes of the internal organs. In addition, this root vegetable is not suitable for the nutrition of young children (under the age of 2 years).

In general, both red and white onions are good for the body. But only in its fresh form, which retains both phytoncides, essential oils, and vitamins.

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