Chives are perennial herbs that are green in color with purple flowers in the top with slender and conical bulb like roots. The roots grow up to 8 to 12 inches in height. They are named onion chives because of the onion like flavor they have. Chives are generally used for culinary purposes due to their flavor.
Chives were originally grown in Europe, Asia and North America and subsequently in other parts of the world.
Chives are grown in well drained fertile soil. The seeds are germinated indoors and transplanted in outdoor fields. The tubular leaves are harvested up to the bottom and they grow again and are continuously harvested till optimum quantity is harvested. They can be grown indoors in small pots too.
Chives are grown for their abundant nutrient value. Every 100 gm. of fresh chives provide just 30 Cal of energy, 4.35gm of carbohydrates,2.5 gm. dietary fiber,3.27gm of protein and very little fat and sugar. Chives are a rich source of many vitamins. It contain vitamin K, 212.7 microgram (203% of RDA), 58.1 mg of vitamin C (70% of RDA), Folate, B9 (26% of RDA), vitamin A 218 microgram (27% of RDA), beta carotene – 2612 microgram (24% of RDA), lutein and Zeaxanthin. It also has small quantities of thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamins B6 and E.
Chives contain many minerals. They contain calcium (92 mg), iron (1.6 mg), magnesium (42 mg), manganese (0.373 mg), phosphorous (58 mg), potassium (296 mg) and zinc (0.56 mg).
Health benefits of onion chives
Chives belong to allium family of vegetables and prevent prostate cancer. The degree of prevention of prostate cancer in men is directly proportional to the intake of the quantity of chives.
The nutrient, allicin that is present in chives is more than in onion or garlic. Allicin reduces LDL cholesterol and increases HDL cholesterol level. It reduces the blood pressure and prevents blood clots.
The high levels of potassium in chives promotes long term bone health. Potassium regulates bone cells. It also works in preventing de-mineralization of the bones. Chives play an important role in production of the bone protein called osteocalcin. This is vital for maintaining the mineral density in bones.
The twin anti-oxidants, vitamin K and quercetin in chives prevent cancer of breast, ovaries, colon, prostate and lungs. Particularly the carotenes, lutein and zeaxanthin in chives plays a preventive role in lung and oral cancers.
Allicin present in chives releases nitric acid which reduces the stiffness in blood vessels. The leads to decrease in blood pressure. Moreover, quercetin reduces the buildup of plaques in the arteries. This way, chives help in promoting heart health.
Lutein and zeaxanthin reduces oxidative stress in the eyes and slows down the formation of cataract. Chives also prevent macular degeneration in elders.
Folic acid contained in chives help in preventing defects in neural tube. They help pregnant mothers by facilitating birth of healthy babies.
Allyl sulfides found in chives help in removing discomfort in digestion. The antibacterial contents in chives eliminate bacteria that are detrimental to the gastrointestinal system.
Chives have certain anti-bacterial qualities that can eliminate free radicals from the body. Chives also have some diuretic properties which improves the functioning of the organ system. This is because it removes excess fat, salt and water by facilitating urination.
You can prevent rheumatoid arthritis by consuming chives on a regular basis. The mild anti-inflammatory property of chives acts to protect you from arthritis.
How to consume chives
Cut the tender stem of chives plant into small pieces. Add these to suitable dishes and as a garnish.
You can use them liberally as they are low in calories and high in nutrients. The added benefit is that they do not contain any sodium.
You can sprinkle cut chives like mint or basil to enjoy the aroma. They also pair well with various dishes. You can also use them as a topping for salads and soups. Due to their soft and tender nature, you can add chives to dishes when raw or at the end of cooking.