Various cooking methods and the flavonoid content in onion

J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2001 Feb;47(1):78-83. doi: 10.3177/jnsv.47.78.


Onion is a major source of flavonoids and is cooked in various ways in the world. The major flavonoids in onion are two quercetin glycosides, quercetin 4'-O-beta-glucoside (Q4'G) and quercetin 3,4'-O-beta-diglucosides (Q3,4'G), which are recognized as bioactive substances that are good for our health. We have investigated the effect of cooking procedures on the content of antioxidants. We selected quercetin conjugates, total phenol compounds, and ascorbic acid to estimate the amount of flavonoid ingestion from onion. We examined the following cooking methods: boiling, frying with oil and butter, and microwave cooking. Various cooking methods do not consider the degradation of quercetin conjugates when cooking onion. Microwave cooking without water better retains flavonoids and ascorbic acid. Frying does not affect flavonoid intake. The boiling of onion leads to about 30% loss of quercetin glycosides, which transfers to the boiling water. At that time, the effect of additives on the quercetin conjugates is different according to the compounds. The hydrolysis of quercetin glycosides for daily cooking might occur with the addition of seasonings such as glutamic acid. Additional ferrous ions accelerated the loss of flavonoids.

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / analysis*
  • Ascorbic Acid / analysis
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Cooking / methods*
  • Digestion
  • Flavonoids / analysis*
  • Food Handling / methods
  • Hot Temperature
  • Hydrolysis
  • Microwaves
  • Nutritive Value
  • Onions / chemistry*
  • Quercetin / analysis
  • Time Factors


  • Antioxidants
  • Flavonoids
  • Quercetin
  • Ascorbic Acid