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Spring onion

January 15, 2021
Healthy benefits of Spring onion

Generally mistaken for some of its close cousins, chives are one of the most common bulb vegetables around the world. Contrary to what many believe, it is not a type of small onion that is pulled from the ground before fully maturing, but a different species within the same family . If you want to learn to differentiate it and learn more details about its origin, taste, nutritional properties, health benefits, ways of consumption and storage, among other related topics, keep reading below.

What are chives?

The chive , whose scientific name is allium fistulosum , belongs to the same family as garlic , onion , leek , shallot and chives (Allium or Liliaceae species). Depending on the place, it can be known by other names, for example scallion, Chinese onion, long onion, green onion or branch onion.

Chives look very similar to chives, but differ in their bulb size . The stems are long and firm; the green leaves are erect, hollow and tubular, but this plant does develop an elongated white bulb, although it never reaches the normal size and shape of an onion.

Its flavor is very similar to that of other Allium species , possibly an intermediate combination between onion and chives . In other words, its flavor is not as powerful as that of onion, but not as mild as that of chives. All its parts are edible and can be used interchangeably in the kitchen, however the flavor of the white base (bulb) is a little more intense than that of the leaves.

Today, green onions are grown and used all over the world, although due to their origin they are considered a staple of Asian food .

Nutritional properties

Chives are an excellent source of essential nutrients, such as vitamin K, vitamin C, folate, beta-carotene, sulfur compounds, fiber, various minerals, and water. A 100 gram serving of chopped chives contains approximately1:

  • Calories: 32
  • Protein: 1.8 g
  • Fat: 0.2 g
  • Fibra: 2.6 g
  • Carbohydrates: 7.3 g
  • Vitamina K: 207 mcg (259%)
  • Vitamina C: 18.8 mg (31%)
  • Vitamina A: 997 IU (20%)
  • Folate: 64.0 mcg (16%)
  • Iron: 1.5 mg (8%)
  • Potasio: 276 mg (8%)
  • Dosage: 0.2 mg (8%)
  • Calcium: 72 mg (7%)
  • Riboflavina: 0.1 mg (5%)
  • Magnesio: 20 mg (5%)

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 .

It is highly recommended to include it regularly in our diet . Not only will it add flavor to food, it can also help us achieve the daily dose of many nutrients, without significantly increasing the number of calories we eat.

Healthy benefits of chives

Being a member of the Allium family , chives share many of the health benefits of other bulbs . Several cultures have not only used it as an ingredient in the preparation of recipes, but also as a natural remedy for the prevention and cure of multiple health conditions.

Taking into account the results of different investigations, these are the main benefits of consuming chives (scallion, green onion):

Helps in weight loss

Being such a low calorie vegetable, but rich in water and fiber, chives are a very convenient addition when trying to lose weight, as it helps to keep you feeling full longer , has a diuretic effect on the body and favors our metabolism.

Several studies have found that its compounds can also alter the expression of some of the genes involved in obesity. In a 2011 study, a group of mice was fed chive extract for 6.5 weeks; Researchers found that this had helped reduce body weight and fat cells, as well as increased levels of a specific protein involved in the breakdown of fat2.

Promotes proper blood clotting

Chives contain large amounts of vitamin K ; in fact, a standard serving can meet, or exceed, our daily requirement for it. This vitamin is essential for many processes in the body, but its most important role is blood clotting. Vitamin K deficiency can cause a person to bruise, bleed easily (usually from the gums or nose), bleeds, or other disorders.3.

Helps to stimulate the immune system

Some studies have found that regular consumption of vegetables, such as onion, garlic, leeks, chives, and chives, can strengthen the immune system to prevent illness and infection. In a 2013 study, where several mice were fed a diet based on chives, it was found that this vegetable was able to improve their immune function4 . Another study reported that scallions can increase the production of antibodies, helping to fight influenza and other similar conditions5.

As if that were not enough, this bulb also contains significant doses of vitamin C , a powerful antioxidant whose action fights oxidative stress, improves immune function and helps prevent infections.6.

Promotes good heart health

According to health authorities, heart disease is a major health problem throughout the world and the leading cause of death in many developed countries 7 . Hence, every day more studies are done to verify the impact of diet on our heart health. Specifically in the case of chives, researchers have observed that its consumption helps to significantly reduce several risk factors, such aselevated levels of LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure.

On the other hand, its high content of vitamin K protects the heart, prevents the stiffness of the arteries and blocks the formation of calcium deposits on the arterial walls8 . During a 4-year study that looked at the diets of 16,057 women, higher intakes of some forms of vitamin K were found to be associated with lower risk of heart disease9.

Protects bone health

In addition to preventing heart disease and improving blood clotting, vitamin K can also help strengthen our; apparently this vitamin increases the production of a protein necessary to maintain bone calcium and increase bone density10.

A study that supplemented 241 patients with osteoporosis found that vitamin K had reduced the risk of fractures in the participants, in addition to helping them maintain their bone density11.

During another study, it was discovered that low vitamin K intake is associated with an increased risk of hip fractures in elderly men and women12.

May help slow cancer growth

One of the most studied benefits of chives, and other similar bulbs, is their ability to fight and reduce the growth of some types of cancer. During a 2012 study, several mice with colon cancer were fed chive extract; This supplementation was found to have reduced tumor growth and associated inflammation, increasing the survival rate of the mice13.

Another study from the National Cancer Institute showed that consuming more chives could decrease the risk of developing prostate cancer by 30% 14.

It cannot be overlooked that green onions also contain the compound called allicin , so renowned for its anti-cancer effects. After an investigation in which a group of stomach cancer cells were treated with allicin, it was observed that this compound was able to stop the growth of cancer and help to eliminate existing cancer cells15.

In addition to these benefits, chives are attributed digestive, antibacterial and cleansing properties.

Forms of consumption

This bulb vegetable is usually available in almost all supermarkets and local stores. It is very easy to use and can be incorporated into a wide variety of dishes. Chives can be eaten raw, grilled, sautéed or cooked within a recipe. They will always add a touch of slightly spicy flavor and color to meals.

How are chives prepared and served?

To make green onions, trim the roots and peel off 1 or 2 layers of the outer leaves until you find the central white stem. Wash the whole chives (leaves, stem and bulb) with cold water and cut it the way you want; It is usually cut into rings, chunks, or diagonal segments.

Always choose chives that are bright green, with a firm white base; store them in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them.

Green onions are often used in recipes where we want a more subtle flavor than onions. These are some of its most common culinary uses:

  • Add freshly minced raw chives as an ingredient in salads, soups, pasta, omelettes, fried rice, sauces.
  • Sauté the fresh chive leaves with other vegetables (peppers, mushrooms).
  • Add whole bulbs when cooking stews or baked recipes; They combine very well with cabbage, green peas, fish and shellfish, tubers such as potatoes and carrots , among others.
  • Grill them over high heat ( chive skewers ); this is one of the best options to enjoy its true flavor.

Differences between onions and chives

As we have already explained in this article, the spring onion or scallion is not a type of onion, but another species within its same family. Although they are similar, they can be easily differentiated . The 3 most important characteristics to consider are:

  • Appearance-Form . Chives are smaller than an average onion; They have long green stems, which are edible as well as the bulbous part (little developed).
  • Appearance-Color. Onions can vary in color, they are usually white, yellow, red, or purple. On the contrary, chives always have a white colored bulb followed by a green stem and leaves.
  • Sabor . The onion always has a very intense flavor and smell, however, the chive is softer and slightly sweet; its flavor is always less aggressive.

Contraindications and side effects

Green onions are generally safe for everyone, but those who have experienced allergic reactions to onions, or other similar vegetables, should exercise extreme caution. Although it occurs rarely, some people are known to be allergic to species in the Allium family , including chives. In these cases, symptoms can be shortness of breath, vomiting, wheezing, itching, or skin irritation. If you experience these, or any other negative symptoms after eating chives, you should discontinue use and consult a doctor.

Likewise, people who take anticoagulants should consume chives in moderation, since it contains large amounts of vitamin K and this can interfere with the action of the drug in the body.

Quick answers to frequently asked questions

How to select and store chives?

Bunches of fresh chives are available at vegetable markets throughout the year. When selecting them, keep the following tips in mind :

  • Always look for clean, uniform, firm and crisp stems, which are about the size of a fine pencil.
  • Choose firm, crisp, white to pale green bulbs that are well formed.
  • Avoid yellow or overripe leaves, as they are spicier and have a strong flavor, like that of onions. The tops should be bright green with approximately 8 inches long.

Once at home, these are the recommendations to store green onions well and keep them fresh for longer:

  • Remove the rubber bands and any damaged leaves.
  • Wash the chives with cold water and pat them dry with absorbent paper.
  • Once aerated, store them inside in a perforated plastic bag and place them in the refrigerator, preferably in the fruit or vegetable drawer (32-36 degrees F).
  • Store away from odor-sensitive foods such as corn and mushrooms, as these will absorb the scent of the chives.

Well-stored chives can last fresh for up to 5 days or 1 week.

Note : some people have another way to keep their chives fresh; It consists of placing them in a jar with one or two inches of water (only the bulbs) and covering the leaves, placing a plastic bag on top. Finally the jar is kept in the fridge.

What is the chive plant like?

The chive is a herbaceous plant, very similar in appearance to chives, onion or garlic.

Main botanical characteristics:

  • Its leaves are hollow and tubular, measuring between 25 and 35 cm long, and 5 to 7 mm in diameter; each of them has a kind of fleshy base that allows it to join all the others and create a layer around the stem.
  • The stem of the chive is thin, cylindrical and ends in a tuberous bulb that is white (or pale green when it is still young). This bulb is very similar to the onion, but much smaller.
  • From the base of the bulb the roots are detached , which can reach between 30 and 45 cm.
  • The flowers of scallions grow on individual stems (umbels); in each umbel there can be between 350 and 400 flowers. These are white, very small and hermaphroditic.
  • After the flowering stage, the flowers are replaced by a kind of capsule, which is where the tiny seeds of the plant are formed.

How to grow chives?

This plant does not present great cultivation demands. If you want to get your own harvest of chives at home , keep the following recommendations in mind:

  • The planting ground should be fertile soil, well drained and free of weeds . If possible, it is advisable to fertilize the soil before planting.
  • In climates where there is a marked change in seasons, the seeds can be sown in containers or pots to keep indoors for 5-6 weeks before the last frost. Otherwise, you can wait a couple more weeks and sow the seeds directly outside. The exposure to sunlight is a great ally for this crop.
  • It is best to leave 30 cm of separation between one seed and another, sowing approximately 1 cm deep. They must remain moist, but the soil must be well drained. It is very important to maintain a superficial risk during the short growing season.
  • In general, this crop does not suffer from infestation by pests, but if it does occur, these are some of the main ones: the onion beetle, the onion fly, larvae, moths and nematodes. If you start to notice problems, you should move the next crop to another area of ​​the yard or garden. Many gardeners recommend disinfection of the ground, before planting, with a specialized product.
  • You can start harvesting as soon as the plants are 12-15cm tall and pencil wide (around 90 days, depending on the variety). To extract the entire plant, pull it out. Generally, several children are usually left to continue growing.

Some of the most common varieties are: Early White Chives, Common Chives, Evergreen Chives, Japanese-Bunching varieties (Evergreen White Bunching, Tokyo Long White) Guardia Chives, Nebuka Chives, etc.

What do chives taste like?

The flavor of chives is milder, less spicy and slightly sweet , compared to the taste of white onions. They are often used in the preparation of recipes that do not require as much intensity.

What other names does it have?

In addition to chives, this vegetable is also known as winter onion, white onion, green onion, chives, English chives, branch onion, red onion, long onion, chives, scallion, spring onion, and Chinese onion. Its scientific name is allium fistulosum.


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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 I show the properties, benefits, characteristics, photos and images, ways of growing and how to make delicious meals from starchy vegetables.