When it comes to cooking with onions, chances are you throw away or compost the thin, translucent onion skin. However, the next time you're tempted to just toss those peels, you might want to give that decision a second thought, because the secret to healthy skin, less inflammation, and lower blood press could be in something called onion peel tea.
What are the benefits of onion peel?
Surprisingly, onion skins are actually more densely packed with nutrients than the flesh of the vegetable. A review of studies in Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy found that onion peels contain a more concentrated amount of the bioactive compound quercetin than the part of the onion we typically eat. This potent antioxidant fights harmful free radicals that can damage the body's cells. Indeed, quercetin has long been recognized for its numerous anti-aging properties.
When it comes to health benefits, quercetin really does it all. It keeps skin smooth, supple, and wrinkle-free by preventing sun damage from UV rays. Plus, studies have shown that this powerful flavonoid is key in lowering blood pressure, reducing inflammation and allergies, cutting down your risk of Alzheimer's or dementia, and even preventing cancer.
And that's not all! A study in Nutrition Research and Practice found that folks who did nothing other than supplement with onion peel extract daily effortlessly shed 2 pounds of weight, 1 pound of fat and 1 inch from their waistlines within 12 weeks. Researchers found onion peel’s quercetin increased resting energy expenditure, or how many calories your body burns while at rest. This all makes sense when you realize that lowering inflammation almost always leads to automatic weight loss.
(Click through to our sister publication's story for more health benefits of onion skins.)
What are the best ways to enjoy onion peel?
One of the reasons we toss these peels in the trash is that they don't seem super inviting to snack on, but there are three basic ways to use them: in a broth, as a powder or as a tea.
To make an onion skin broth, you simply rinse the onion peels in cold water, simmer them with whatever other ingredients you wish for thirty to forty minutes and let cool. Then just pour your broth through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth and enjoy. It's easy to simply add them to your favorite recipes.
To make onion skin powder, you'll want to clean the skins, bake them and then put them through a spice grinder to create a useful powder. Click through for a complete guide to making onion skin powder.
What is onion peel tea?
The easiest and most affordable way to get the benefits of quercetin is through brewing onion peels into a tea. And recently, onion peel tea became something of a hit on TikTok thanks to board-certified Mamina Turegano, MD and her mother. Turns out that Mama Turegano, who is native Japanese, learned to make onion peel tea from her mother, who touted its anti-aging benefits. They recently popularized their onion peel tea concoction on TikTok by talking about how it promotes overall health and showing how to make it.
How do you make onion peel tea?
Brewing up a cup of onion peel tea couldn't be simpler. Here's the three-step process that Dr. Turegano mapped out. You can use red, white, or yellow onions for this process:
Collect your onion skins and wash them thoroughly.
Place a handful of your onion peels in a pot full of water on medium-high heat. Bring that water to a boil and then let it simmer for 15 to 30 minutes.
Strain the mixture into a mug so that you don't get any onion skin bits floating around in your drink.
Now onto the question you definitely want the answer to: Is onion peel tea going to make you feel like you're drinking a raw onion? Not so much!
The duo describes the flavor as very mild onion water, but you can also add other juices, spices, and ingredients to even out the taste if you're not a fan. Lemon and turmeric are great options that provide plenty of their own health benefits. You could also try incorporating your other favorite tea using the hot onion peel water. It's worth a shot!
For more inexpensive, beneficial teas: