Are Pickled Onions Good for You? [Heart and Gut Health]

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Lindsay Ewan, MD
Lindsay Ewan, MD
Dr. Lindsay Ann Ewan, MD is Chief Medical Officer at Ethics Advisors, LLC. She worked previously as a Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Section of Adolescent Medicine, University of Oklahoma. She have done Masters in Public Health, University of South Florida and Doctor of Medicine from University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Raw onions offer many health benefits because they are rich in antioxidant compounds like flavonoids. But what about pickled onions? Are they suitable for you and can you eat them every day?

The answer is yes. Pickled onions are good for you as they are rich in many nutrients, including:

  • Folate
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Antioxidants

However, pickled items should be eaten in moderation. Some items are high in sugar, and pickled items are generally high in sodium (salt), and are highly acidic. You can choose to eat fermented or unfermented pickled onions. However, eating fermented pickled onions in moderation can benefit your gut health.

Lacto-fermented pickled onions are a specific type of pickled onions. They are thought to be good for your gut health because they contain beneficial bacteria strains.

Besides your gut, these onions are good for your heart and liver since they are also rich in potent antioxidants. Below is a table of the differences between fermented and unfermented onions.

Fermented Pickled OnionsUnfermented Pickled Onions
Uses 2-5% (diluted) brine of salt for fermentation.Uses 16% (concentrated) brine of salt for preservation
Contains naturally occurring beneficial bacterial strainsLacks beneficial bacteria
No pasteurization neededMust be pasteurized using heat
A little sourHas a mild sweet taste
Preserved using lactic acid, spices, and sugarPreserved using undilute brine

Since fermented pickled onions are good for you, how do you prepare them, and how much should you consume? In this guide, we will respond to all your questions, including what recipes to pair your pickled onions with.

Are Pickled Onions Good for You?

Yes. Like plain onions, pickled onions contain various micronutrients, including vitamins and minerals. Even better, this food item is low in calories, low in fat, and has zero cholesterol. This makes pickled onions a great addition to your healthy diet as long as you eat them in moderation.

Are Pickled Onions Good for You?

Pickled onions are good for you because they also contain significant folate or vitamin B9. This essential vitamin plays a vital role in forming white and red cells. It may also help improve heart health and lower blood pressure.

In addition, these onions are rich in flavonoids, powerful antioxidants that may help protect against cancer. Flavonoids may also reduce the risk of heart disease.

Below, you can check out the type of nutrients pickled onions in vinegar contain per 50-gram serving size.

Nutritional Information of Pickled OnionsAmount Per Serving (50 grams)
Calories23.2 kCal
Carbohydrates4.3 grams
Protein0.5 grams
Dietary fat0.5 grams
Sodium64 mg
Calcium11 mg
Phosphorus11.5 mg
Vitamin B60.05 mg

Are Pickled Onions Good for Gut Health

Besides being good for your heart; pickled onions may help support a healthy gut. However, this is true only if you eat fermented pickled onions, not unfermented ones. Fermented onions are made with 2 to 5% salt diluted brine instead of vinegar. Therefore, the pickles usually grow naturally occurring lactic acid bacteria, including lactobacillus, after one to two weeks.

These are good bacteria found in the gut, which help maintain a healthy digestive system. In addition, lactic acid bacteria help control intestinal infections and help improve lactose digestion.

How To Make Pickled Onions?

Like preparing the famous candy grapes recipe, making pickled onions is easy. You will need ingredients such as:

  • A medium red onion
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
  • 1/4 apple cider vinegar or brine
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Bay leaves, cloves, and mustard seeds (optional)

Below is a step-by-step guide to help you prepare crunchy pickled onions with an irresistibly tangy taste.

Step 1: Thinly slice the onion

Cut your red onions into slices about 1/8-inch thick. The thinner the slices, the more quickly they can soften and absorb the vinegar or brine. Then, put your onions in a mason jar. 

Note that you could use white or yellow onions, although red onions are the most popular because of their mild flavor.

Step 2: Prepare your pickling liquid

Mix the maple syrup, salt, apple cider vinegar, bay leaves, cloves, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. You can choose to simmer the mixture over medium heat if you want unfermented pickles or not for fermented pickles.

Step 3: Mix the onions and pickling mixture

Next up, pour your mixture into the mason jar with onions inside. Then, add about one cup of water. After that, cover the jar tightly with a lid and let it sit out for at least 12 to 14 hours.

Step 4: Serve the pickled onions

Once the 12-hour period has elapsed, serve your pickles and refrigerate the leftovers for later. However, you must consume them within a week or two.

How Much Pickled Onions Should You Eat?

You must eat pickled onions in moderation. While they offer many health benefits, pickles also have potential side effects. These adverse effects result from the ingredients used in the pickling process, including vinegar, salt, and other preservatives.

For instance, overeating pickled onions may be dangerous for individuals with diabetes or high blood pressure. This is because the onions contain a significant amount of salt, which can be  concerning to those with medical conditions. In addition, eating many pickles increases your risk of stomach cancers due to the high acidic content of vinegar.

What Do Pickled Onions Go Good With?

Although you can eat pickled onions without any accompaniment, they are perfect for adding to different recipes. These include:


Pickled onions work with just any type of salad. It does not matter whether it is vegetable or green salads, salads of pasta, grilled potato salad, or mixed salads.


Additionally, you can use the pickles as filling for your sandwiches. You just stuff them in your favorite chicken, egg, ham, seafood, grilled cheese, or Nutella sandwich.

Mexican dishes

Whether you like shrimp, vegetables, or fish tacos, pickled onions pair well with any taco, thanks to their sweet acidity. You can also pile the pickles on your favorite quesadillas made with healthy ingredients.

Hot dogs and buggers

You can also use pickled onions as toppings on buggers and hot dogs. They will definitely add unique flavoring.

How Long Can Pickled Onions Last?

Homemade pickled onions can last between 2 and 3 weeks once opened. You just put the pickles in an airtight mason jar and refrigerate them. But if you refrigerate the onions without opening them, they can last up to six months. This is because vinegar and brine are natural preservatives.

On the other hand, store-bought pickled onions boast extended shelf life than their homemade counterparts. When unopened, the onions can stay fresh for up to 2 years. However, you must keep checking the expiration date. Once opened, you should use them for 2 to 4 months.


In this section, we will respond to commonly asked questions regarding whether or not pickled onions are good for you.

Are pickled onions good for weight loss?

Eating pickles will not help you burn excess fat because losing weight involves burning more calories than you consume. However, because these onions are low in calories, you can add them to your weight loss diet. Though, like any food, eating it in excess is not advantageous. 

Are pickled onions good for your liver?

Yes. Plain onions are rich in sulfur-containing amino acids, essential for maintaining normal cellular functions. These amino acids also help your liver efficiently remove toxins from your body while preventing fatty liver disease.

Can you eat pickled onions every day?

Ideally, one should not eat an excessive amount of pickled onions. They are best eaten in moderation. This is because the salt, sugar, and vinegar used in the pickling process may lead to digestive issues. You may experience bloating and water retention due to the high amounts of sodium in these pickles.


Pickled onions are good for you as long as you eat them periodically. They are suitable for your heart and gut health, especially when fermented. You can also continue eating them as part of your weight-loss diet.

While you can buy pickles from a grocery store, you can also prepare them at home. The process is easy, just like making mixed berries galette recipes. Even better, you will love that you can pair the onions with a wide range of recipes like tacos, buggers, and salads.

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