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Chives

January 15, 2021
Nutritional properties of chives

Popular in both cooking and gardening, chives are a favorite for those who tend to grow their own spices and medicinal plants. Some grow it for its mild onion flavor, others for the attractiveness of its green leaves and purple-pink flowers, but the truth is that chives have earned a special place in the garden of many homes. In this article we will be revealing everything behind this common plant, its types, nutritional properties, health benefits, forms of consumption, possible adverse effects and differences with other similar relatives, among other topics of interest.

What is chives?

The chives or chives , scientifically called Allium schoenoprasum , belongs to the genus Allium in the Amaryllidaceae family. This group of bulbous plants includes garlic , onion , chives , shallots, and leeks.. It is said that before becoming popular in the 19th century, chives grew wild throughout Europe and North America. Currently its presence is still predominant in these regions, as well as in many countries in Asia, where it has been cultivated for centuries due to its taste, aroma and medicinal properties. Experts consider Allium schoenoprasum to be the only species in the genus Allium native to both the New and Old Worlds.

The green stems, flowers and the almost non-existent bulb of chives have a very delicate flavor, similar to that of onion, but with a touch of garlic.

5 Characteristics and data of interest

  1. Although chives are bulbous, the most edible part of the plant is the long, hollow stems. They are commonly cut and added to fish recipes, soups, sauces, salads, creams, among other preparations.
  2. When they have not yet opened, the flower buds of the plant can also be ground to create a type of spice.
  3. Chives do not taste much different than other bulb vegetables, such as onions and garlic, but are considered by many to be a more palatable option due to their subtlety.
  4. It is known to have been widely used as a medicinal remedy since the time of the Roman Empire, although it has probably been used long before. Its medicinal properties are similar to those of other close relatives.
  5. Today, chives are a very common species that can be found in most supermarkets around the world.

Types of chives

There are 4 different varieties of chives:

  • Common chives. The common chives ( Allium schoenoprasum ), with its mild onion-like flavor, can be eaten cooked or raw and is very popular as an ingredient in soups and salads. It has hollow, spike-shaped leaves, which can grow up to 25-30 cm in length. The plant is covered with lavender flowers during the first months of summer and can be propagated by seeds or by dividing the plant every 2 to 3 years.
  • Chinese chives or garlic chives. Chinese chives ( Allium tuberosum ) have a flavor similar to the mixture between onion and garlic, and it is most used in Asian cuisine. The plant can reach 60 cm in height, with long, flat leaves as if it were a grass. Its flowers are white, star-shaped and appear in late summer and early fall. Garlic chives can spread quickly, so much so that it is considered a weed (weed) in many places.
  • Siberian giant chives. The Siberian giant chives ( Allium ledebourianum ) are said to have the most potent flavor of all the other varieties of chives, with a strong onion and garlic flavor. Siberian giant chives are similar in appearance to the common chives, but the plant is taller and busier.
  • Siberian garlic chives or blue chives. Like other varieties of chives, Siberian garlic chives ( Allium nutans ) provide a flavor combination of onion and garlic. Commonly known as “blue chives”, it is distinguished by its blue-green foliage and the pink flowers that emerge in midsummer.

Nutritional properties of chives

Although it may not seem like it, chives are a food rich in nutrients. It is a very low calorie vegetable that provides significant amounts of vitamins, essential minerals and antioxidants. For example, a 100 gram serving of chopped raw chives contains approximately1:

Macronutrients:

  • Calories: 30
  • Fat: 0.7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 4.4 g
  • Fibra: 2.5 g (10%)
  • Protein: 3.3 g
  • Water: 90.6 g

Vitamins:

  • Vitamina A : 131 IU (87%)
  • Vitamina C: 1.7 mg (97%)
  • Vitamina K: 213 mcg (266%)
  • Thigh: 0.1 mg (5%)
  • Riboflavina: 0.1 mg (7%)
  • Folates: 105 mcg (26%)
  • Vitamina B6: 0.1 mg (7%)

Minerals:

  • Calcium : 92 mg (9%)
  • Iron: 1.6 mg (9%)
  • Magnesium : 42mg (10%)
  • Phosphorus: 58 mg (6%)
  • Potasio: 296 mg (8%)
  • Zinc: 0.6 g (4%)
  • Copper: 0.2 g (8%)
  • Dimensions : 0.4 g (19%)

Note : Percent (%) values ​​are for adults or children over 4 years of age and are based on a 2,000 calorie daily reference diet. These daily values ​​can be higher or lower depending on the individual needs of each person .

As seen in this nutritional breakdown, chives are an excellent addition to our diet, helping us reach the recommended daily allowance of nutrients so important to good health such as fiber, vitamins A, K, C, and minerals. like calcium, potassium and magnesium, all this without practically increasing the amount of calories we eat in a meal.

10 healthy benefits of chives

Taking into account all the nutrients and compounds that we find in this bulb, it is not surprising that its regular consumption has great health benefits. Chives are rich in flavonoid, antioxidant and sulfuric compounds, which have been linked to the prevention and treatment of numerous conditions, including cancer, heart disease, and inflammatory processes in the body. Let’s see what scientific research says about these and other healthy benefits of chives.

Helps fight cancer

The antioxidant flavonoids present in chives, especially lutein and zeaxanthin 2 , have been recognized for their protective action in cases of lung and mouth cancer3 . Like other bulbs, chives containallicin, an antioxidant widely studied for its preventive power against various types of cancer (prostate, esophagus)4 . In addition, being rich infiber, it is believed that its regular consumption helps prevent colon cancer.

As if that were not enough, eating chives helps us produce glutathione , the most powerful antioxidant agent that allows our body to identify and eliminate carcinogenic substances5.

Promotes good heart health

Allicin has also been found to help balance cholesterol levels 6 and control hypertension by releasingnitric oxideinto the bloodstream; This reduces the stiffness of the blood vessels and therefore the blood pressure levels.

The quercetin , another antioxidant present in scallion, helps reduce plaque buildup in the arteries7 , while its abundantvitamin Ccontentimproves the elasticity of blood capillaries and the absorption of iron8 ; Folic acidhas also been seen tohave an effect capable of suppressing the constriction of blood vessels9 . All these natural mechanisms make chives an excellent addition to our diet, especially for those with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Supports good bone health

Chives contain vitamin K , an essential nutrient that helps maintain bone integrity and density10 . It is also believed that consuming this bulb may be especially helpful for people with rheumatoid arthritis due to its anti-inflammatory properties in the body.11 , however further research is required on the subject.

Improves the digestive process

Chives have traditionally been recognized for their digestive benefits, especially to stimulate digestion and reduce flatulence. On the one hand, it is an excellent combination of fiber and essential nutrients such as niacin, thiamine, pantothenic acid, phosphorus and zinc, which promote good digestion of food. Likewise, chives have antibacterial properties that help eliminate harmful fungi and bacteria in the intestinal tract; for example, this bulb vegetable is said to be able to kill at least 30 strains of salmonella12.

Helps detoxify the body

Both for its antibacterial action and for its chlorophyll and vitamin K content , it is said that chives can help us purify the blood, neutralizing a greater number of toxins in the body13.

Stimulates the immune system

Chives contain numerous phytochemicals that help strengthen our natural defenses. Undoubtedly, a good example of this is vitamin C , but minerals such as selenium also stand out , which, although found in small amounts, has a very important impact on the functioning of the immune system.14 . In addition, it has been proven that itssulfuric compoundshave a similar effect and that they can improve the body’s response to pathogens.15.

Helps improve vision

This benefit is due to the presence of the carotenes lutein and zeaxanthin , which are able to reduce oxidative stress in the eyes, stop the progression of cataracts and promote good eye health16 . Chives also containquercetin, an antioxidant that appears to help preserve vision in patients with macular degeneration.17.

It is beneficial during pregnancy

Chives are a rich source of folate , an extremely important mineral during pregnancy. Folate is involved in fetal brain development, cell division and DNA synthesis, helping to prevent birth defects (especially in the brain and spinal cord)18.

May improve sleep and mood

There are different mechanisms through which the regular consumption of chives can improve our mood and the quality of sleep. For starters, this vegetable is a good source of choline , a nutrient that improves fat absorption, reduces chronic inflammation, helps maintain the structure of cell membranes, the transmission of nerve impulses, and has been shown to be effective for help us sleep well19 . Likewise,folic acidis known to cause an increase in the production of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine, hormones that stimulate good mood. In fact, researchers claim that it is an ally against depression, as it prevents excess homocysteine ​​in the body (having too much homocysteine ​​can prevent blood and other nutrients from reaching the brain).

Improves the health of skin and hair

It has been observed that beta – carotene , generally abundant in fruits, tubers and vegetables, improve the health and appearance of hair and skin20 . Chives are not far behind in this regard, hence its regular consumption helps us to have shinier hair and rejuvenated skin. For its part,vitamin C, abundant in this vegetable, has strong antioxidant properties; helps us reduce wrinkles, fine lines, blemishes and other signs of premature aging21.

How to Select, Consume and Store Chives

When choosing a bunch of chives , make sure the leaves are evenly green, crisp, and thin. A quality chive should not be wilted or brown at the tips.

This vegetable is very versatile , it can be used in many ways in the kitchen. It is generally used to add flavor and aroma to soups, salads, sauces, meats, eggs, potatoes, vegetable creams, pasta, among many other preparations. The green leaves or stems of the plant are not the only edible part, the flowers and their small whitish bulbs can also be used. Both have a mild onion flavor with hints of garlic, which is why they are a good recommendation to spread on top of salads and soups once they have been finely chopped.

  • Like coriander, mint or basil, chives are a tender herb with very soft stems, so it is best added raw at the end of cooking to maintain its texture. This also prevents the delicate flavor from being destroyed by heat.
  • To prepare the chives it is recommended to use a sharp knife and cut gently . Using a dull knife or over cutting will bruise the herb, and much of the flavor will linger on the cutting board.
  • It is a staple of French cuisine ; in fact, it is part of the set of spices that in France they call “fine herbs”. Feel free to add it when making tortillas, tostadas, potato , cheese, or sour cream recipes .
  • In many places, only the type of chives known as Chinese chives or garlic chives are usually available . This one has a flat leaf and tastes more like garlic, but can be used dry or fresh in the same way as regular chives.

Although it is best to eat fresh chives, you can store it for several days by wrapping it in a plastic bag, unwashed, and keeping it in the refrigerator; it is recommended to place it on the door because it is relatively warmer.

If you want to save more chives to have throughout the winter, you can cut and freeze the leaves, or you can preserve them in butters, oils, and herb vinegars (they mix well with parsley and tarragon).

Contraindications and side effects

Chives are generally considered safe for most people. However, although it is not a common allergen, those who have experienced allergies to onions, shallots or other foods from the same family, should be cautious.

  • Bellyache . Likewise, it is known that excessive consumption of chives can cause an upset stomach in some people.
  • Problems during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Chives appear to be safe for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding when consumed in normal amounts, however there are no studies proving its safety in the case of eating larger amounts.

Quick answers to frequently asked questions

What is the origin (history) of chives?

According to historians, the origin of chives dates back to 3,000 BC, in places like Siberia, China or Greece . It is known that medieval gardeners often planted chives around their gardens for better decoration and to protect themselves from insects. It was also thought that hanging sprigs of chives around houses could help them ward off evil.

Apparently the Siberians treasured this plant and used it as a gift to God. In fact, it is believed that she was given to Alexander the Great when he arrived in Siberia to marry Princess Roxiana.

After its expansion in the time of the Roman Empire, chives became part of the daily life of people, who not only used it in the kitchen, but as a natural remedy to alleviate different conditions, for example sore throat, burns. sun and digestive or kidney problems.

What is the edible part of chives?

Although the part we usually eat of chives are its long leaves, we can also take advantage of its flowers and the white segment from which the stems emerge. All its parts are edible and provide a delicious onion flavor combined with garlic.

What is the difference between chives and chives?

Although chives and chives are similar in taste and appearance, they are not the same . Unlike chives, which develop an edible bulb (like a common onion but much smaller), chives grow in the form of grass; that is, it does not form a true bulb. In addition, chives are not usually used as an ingredient during cooking, but as a spice that is added after serving the dish.

How are chives and leeks different?

To begin with, they both belong to different species . Although they are included in the same family, the species of chives is llium schoenoprasum and that of leeks is allium ampeloprasum . The chive plant develops a thin stem and soft, bright green leaves; its flavor is very similar to a combination of onion and garlic, but with a very low intensity; it is usually added raw at the end of cooking.

For its part, the leek could be described as the titan of this family; the plant develops a dense and robust stem, formed by thick leaves that hug and overlap, creating layers; Its delicious flavor is of medium intensity and is usually added as an ingredient during cooking.

Onion and chives: do they taste different?

Neither the same nor different, just similar. Onion and chives taste very similar , but the latter has a much less intense flavor than its close relative. Onion has one of the strongest and hottest flavors in the Aliyaceae family, while chives are characterized by their delicate taste and aroma, usually with distant notes that evoke the taste of garlic.

How is chives grown?

If you are thinking of starting your own chive crop , keep the following recommendations in mind:

  • Chives are easy to grow , it can even be sown in small pots. Regardless of the location, it is best done in well-drained soils with a pH value between 6 and 7.
  • Although these plants also grow in partial shade, the truth is that they prefer the sun . If possible, make sure they get 6 to 8 hours of direct light. They should be planted in early spring, leaving space between them (8 to 12 inches).
  • Chives need little care, just make sure to water them until they’re well rooted. If you harvest frequently, fertilize the soil every two weeks with compost or fish emulsion.
  • Keep in mind that although the flowers are pretty, the plants will produce more leaves if you remove the buds. Trim the entire plant when the flower begins to die and before the seeds form.
  • Being a perennial it will not die completely in the winter and will grow back after being cut.
  • Chives sprout in the spring, and if it is well watered and weed, its yield will be quite high. For a healthy year-round supply, plant the chives in a pot and keep it indoors for the winter.
  • Plants should be revived approximately every 3 years ; for this it is necessary to divide them into smaller groups of 5 or 10, and then replant them. When the chives begin to lose their firmness, cut them 5 cm from their base.

How can I substitute chives?

If you don’t have chives and need a quick substitute, your best bet would be chives . This close relative will provide you with a rich onion flavor, comparable to the flavor of chives. Although chives are less intense than onion, keep in mind that it is slightly stronger than chives, so be sure to only use half the amount you would normally use when adding chives. To mimic the appearance of chopped chives, it is best to cut the chives lengthwise first, then sideways; thus smaller and finer pieces are obtained.

Other good substitutes can be leek, garlic sprouts or ultimately onion (1 tablespoon of finely chopped onion equals approximately 3 tablespoons of chives).

What is the plant like?

  • Chives are a perennial herbaceous plant , which can reach between 30 and 50 cm in height.
  • Its white bulbs are conical and very thin (almost absent); they are 2 to 3 cm long, 1 cm wide, and grow in dense clusters from the roots.
  • Scapes (or stems ) are hollow, tubular, and have a smooth texture. They can measure up to 50 cm long and 2-3 mm wide.
  • The leaves are shorter than the stems and are also hollow and tubular.
  • The flowers are pale purple in color and star-shaped with six petals; they are produced in inflorescences of 10 to 30 flowers.
  • The seeds of scallion occur within a small capsule that matures during the summer.
  • This plant is not only used to flavor recipes, but also has ornamental value.

What does it taste like?

The flavor of chives could be described as “a very subtle version of the mixture between an onion and a garlic”.

What other names does it have?

Depending on the place, chives or chives are also known as:

  • leaf onion
  • Onion branch
  • common chives
  • Chinese onion
  • small leek
  • spring onion
  • garlic chives
  • Italian salad garlic
  • Moorish garlic
  • chives in French
  • wild chives

What will happen if I let my chive plant bloom?

Allowing the chives to flower will not harm the plant at all . Unlike garlic, chives do not require energy savings to grow bulbs. What is certain is that when flowering is cut, these plants produce a greater number of leaves. The choice is up to you, always keeping in mind that flowers are also an edible part.

How can chives be frozen?

If your chives harvest has been large, you can freeze a portion for future use. What you should do is very simple:

  • Wash and cut the chives in the shape you prefer.
  • Place it inside a piece of parchment paper and put it in the freezer.
  • Once frozen, transfer the chives into a zip-lock bag.

References:

  1. https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2406/2
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21418822
  3. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/lutein-and-zeaxanthin
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14757128
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15386533
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3425886/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4041042/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5000725/
  9. https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20021122/folic-acid-for-your-heart
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11684396
  11. https://scratch.mit.edu/discuss/m/topic/267914/
  12. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0958166911006720
  13. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/leo-galland-md/health-benefits-garlic_b_900784.html
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5316450/
  15. https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/garlic-immunity-boosting-superstar
  16. https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/diet-and-nutrition/lutein
  17. https://www.scripps.edu/hanneken/files/dietary_flavonoids.pdf
  18. https://www.webmd.com/baby/folic-acid-and-pregnancy#1
  19. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-436/choline
  20. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-999/beta-carotene
  21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5579659/

My name is Louise Hammond, and I am the creator of this website, a place to find information about tubers, bulbs and medicinal roots. In Dreamsship.com I show the properties, benefits, characteristics, photos and images, ways of growing and how to make delicious meals from starchy vegetables.