Chives, scientific name Allium schoenoprasum, is a species of flowering plant in the family Amaryllidaceae, that produces edible leaves and flowers. Their close relatives include the common onions, garlic, shallots, leek, scallions, and Chinese onion.
A perennial plant, it is widespread in nature across much of Europe, Asia, and North America.
A schoenoprasum is the only species of Allium native to both the New and the Old Worlds.
Chives are a commonly used herb and can be found in grocery stores or grown in home gardens. In culinary use, the green stalks (scapes) and the unopened, immature flower buds are diced and used as an ingredient for omelettes, fish, potatoes, soups, and many other dishes. The edible flowers can be used in salads. Chives have insect-repelling properties that can be used in gardens to control pests
The plant provides a great deal of nectar for pollinators. It was rated in the top 10 for most nectar production (nectar per unit cover per year) in a UK plants survey conducted by the Agriland project which is supported by the UK Insect Pollinators Initiative.
Chives, or Allium schoenoprasum, contain nutrients that are important for sleep and bone health. Some research has also linked the chemicals in chives and other allium vegetables with anticancer effects
This article provides an overview of chives, including a nutritional breakdown, their possible health benefits, and some ways to incorporate chives into the diet.
Chives are a nutrient-dense food. This means that they are low in calories but high in beneficial nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
That said, to get a significant amount of these nutrients, a person would have to eat a large quantity of chives. Instead, people often use chives as a garnish. A common serving is about 1 tablespoon (tbsp), or 3 grams.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 1 tbsp of chopped chives provides the following nutrients:
● energy: 0.9 calories
● vitamin K: 6.38 micrograms (mcg), or 5% of the Daily Value (DV)
● vitamin C: 1.74 milligrams (mg), or 2% of the DV
● folate: 3.15 mcg, or 1% of the DV
● vitamin A: 6.43 mcg, or 1% of the DV
● calcium: 2.76 mg, or less than 1% of the DV
● potassium: 8.88 mg, or less than 1% of the DV
HEALTH BENEFITS OF CHIVES
Vegetables are excellent sources of healthful nutrients. Chives contain a range of beneficial nutrients that may offer some health benefits, including anticancer effects.
Research has linked vegetable-rich with a reduced risk of many types of cancer. Some research has specifically suggested that Allium vegetables, including chives, could have anticancer effects.
A 20019 review summarizes research that has linked 16 different species of allium vegetables with preventing or positively influencing cancer. The authors highlighted the compounds S-allyl mercaptocysteine, quercetin, flavonoids, and ajoene for their potential anticancer properties.
One study in 285 women found that garlic and leeks were associated with a reduced risk of developing breast cancer. The authors also suggest, however, that eating high amounts of cooked onion could increase breast cancer risk.
Also, a 2015 review of studies reports that eating allium vegetables may reduce the risk of cancer, particularly gastrointestinal cancer. This is due to their sulfur-containing compounds and antimicrobial effects. Allium vegetables and their components may have affects at various stages of cancer and could affect biological processes that modify a person’s risk.
The authors of the review explain that although Allium vegetables may help prevent cancer, more research has looked into the affects of garlic and onion on cancer than those of chives. Researchers therefore need to conduct more studies before they can determine the amount a person needs to eat for this affect, and the relative effectiveness of other interventions.
■ SLEEP AND MOOD
Chives contain a small amount of choline. Choline is an important nutrients that helps maintain the structure of of cellular membranes. Choline also helps with mood, memory, muscle control, and other brain and nervous system functions.
According to the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), the adequate intake (AI) of choline is 550 mg per day for adult males and 425 mg per day for adult females.
Chives contain a small amount of choline: 0.16 mg per tbsp. A person would need to eat a high quantity of chives and other foods that contain choline to get the recommended Al.
OTHER HEALTH BENEFITS OF CHIVES
Research has also linked chives and other Allium vegetables with the following benefits for health:
■ A SOURCE OF VITAMIN K
Chives contain vitamin K, which is important for bone health and blood clotting. Other sources of vitamin K include leafy green vegetables, vegetable oils, and fruits including blueberries and figs.
■ A SOURCE OF FOLATE
Chives also contain folate. According to the ODS, this water-soluble B vitamin plays a role in conditions such as:
●dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease
●congenital heart defects
●cardiovascular disease and stroke
■ EYE HEALTH
Chives also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which are carotenoids. According to some research, lutein and zeaxanthin accumulate in the retina of the eye to help prevent age-related macular degeneration. This means that eating foods rich in these substances could benefit eyesight.