Chive. As a plant that has long graced the shelves of supermarkets worldwide, it comes as no surprise to hear that the ingredient that has been used in many recipes.
From omelets to breads for ages, chive is one that actually has numerous health benefits.
Known for its distinct taste and for being often times confused with its cousin, garlic, chives are plants that can be added into just about any dinner in order to give it that extra little burst of flavor — and nutrients.
Its scientific name being Allium schoenoprasum, it is native to many parts of North America, Asia, and Europe.
The widespread nature of this plant coupled with its ability to survive practically all seasons and regrow without having to be replanted each year.
Easily planted in any garden or found at any local supermarket, the herb has been used in medicines since medicine was invented. It has also has been used as a garnish for just as long.
With such, it is not difficult to see why chives should, if not be labeled as a staple ingredient. Chive should also be considered a great addition to a consistently well-balanced diet.
Chive Health Benefits
Chive contains many health benefits, some of which are listed below.
1. Vitamins and Minerals
One of the largest and most prominent health benefits of chives is its ability to provide a person with a variety of points filled for their daily requirement of certain vitamins and minerals.
Chives are nutrient-rich plants, serving not only as a small but significant source of energy, but containing also carbohydrates, proteins, and dietary fiber.
Chive has 0 mg of cholesterol and thus is able to be added to any dish. Its vitamins range from folates to thiamin and include niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, riboflavin, and vitamin A, C, E and K.
In addition to those vitamins, it contains almost overwhelming amounts of potassium and some sodium. Its minerals also have a fine list, including Ca, Cu, Fe, Mg, Mn, P, and Zn.
2. Low in Calories
Since chives are particularly low in calories, they can be a great source to turn to for alternative seasoning. A quarter cup of chives would contain just 4 calories, making it a great additive to any meal.
3. Protects Against Cancers
In addition, these antioxidants (Quercetin and vitamin K) detoxify the body and can help with skin health.
This is especially helpful in a breakfast setting due to the fact that you would have your entire day for the nutrients to really be processed.
It will also allow them to start working throughout the skin, targeting the cells and helping with acne problems.
6. Improves Heart Health
The fiber found in the plant can also be a large factor in reducing nausea and easing the digestive process.
Another reason why it is good as a garnish is that even just that small, concentrated amount of nutrients can help with the digestion of even the largest meals.
8. Bone Health
The vitamin K found in the herb plays an important factor in protecting bone density and increasing function.
As a rule, vitamin K should be one of the most important factors when deliberating what makes up a healthy diet.
It acts to preserve and retain calcium in the bone matrix, and prevents the urinary excretion of this calcium.
9. Digestive Process
Chives can be a great factor in aiding the digestive process. The nutrients in it alongside the subtle taste it can give a meal will serve as great stomach-settlers. [R]
10. Improve Mood
In chives, folate also occurs. This means that not only may it help relieve depression, but any excess of homocysteine that would form in the body would be prevented.
This means that by consuming chives, your mood would automatically improve.
The main problem with having an excess amount of homocysteine, which is an amino acid in your blood that you get from eating meat, is that it can prevent other nutrients and blood from reaching the brain.
Furthermore, it also has the ability to interfere with the making of any serotonin in your brain, which is one of the best feel-good hormones.
Other positive hormones such as dopamine and norepinephrine could also be affected by an excess of homocysteine.
Ultimately, the folate present in chives helps keep a person happy.
These hormones that are known to regulate sleep, appetite, and mood are all aided by the production of the folic acid that comes in chives in a rather concentrated amount. [R]
11. Immune System
The vitamin C found in chives will give that extra little boost to the immune system each time it is ingested. [R]
12. Eye Health
Lutein and zeaxanthin are two carotenoids found in chives that are believed to be good for the health of a person’s eyes. The two of them reduce oxidative stress, which is a big issue in the eyes of many aging people.
They also serve to show the development of cataracts as early as possible. This all means that just by adding chives to their daily diet, a person’s vision and eye health could both very well be boosted. [R][R]
How to Use
1. To Flavor
Chives are perhaps best used as a flavor for dishes such as eggs, omelets, quiches, or dips. Their low-calorie count allows them to be added to any meal in order to give it flavor without hurting the health impact.
In fact, adding chives as a flavoring instead of spices allows for it to actually boost the health quality of a dish.
To make the most out of the health properties of the chives, it is best to add them either raw at the end or add them close to the end of the dish’s cooking time.
This is because chives are really a soft-stemmed herb, and to cook them for too long would be to cook out the flavor and nutrients.
Adding them close to the end of cook time allows them to retain most of their nutrients and flavor.
2. To Garnish
Rather than add them into the actual dish, it could also help to garnish a dish, such as a soup, with chives.
This allows for the raw herb to bring its nutrients to the dish but gives the flexibility of adding it in later, and in the desired quantities.
In addition, it eliminates the risk of over-cooking the herb, which would suck out some of the nutrients.
It also shows the versatility of the plant with the way in which it can be added to things that are either already cooked or dishes that are eaten raw.
3. The Flowers
Rather than sticking with solely the more versatile, well-known part of the plant — the leaves — you could also add its flowers to a dish.
To add them to a salad or something similar would give it all the same health properties as the leaves would.
It would, however, allow for a different texture than the alternative, making the plant just as useful in its whole raw form as when it is cooked into a dish.
The plant only flowers while near the end of its yearly life, usually at the end of summer. That makes the flowers something that cannot be used all the time.
However, if you had a plant in your garden, then you would be able to make new recipes as the summer months progressed.
They also allow for a little bit of color into a dish, since they are usually a purple-like color. This makes a difference in a dish’s aesthetic, which is beneficial when having to decide which health products to put in something like a salad.
4. Insect Repellent
The juice of the chive plant, when applied topically, can be used as a natural option for an insect repellant. Juicing is simple, and can be done using lemon juice as an additive.
The fungicidal properties present in the plant can be used to both repel certain common insects and repel moles.
This juice can either be applied directly onto skin in the same way as you would apply insect repellent spray or be placed in a dish in hopes of keeping insects away in a more distant way.
It is one of the less-common usages of the chive plant but has been shown to be an effective one regardless.
5. With Butter or Cheese
Chives have also been known to be something to incorporate into dairy products such as butter or cheeses. This is because it can help flavor both of the aforementioned items, sure, but also to boost their nutritional properties.
Butter and cheese both contain calories and fats. Chives contain neither.
Being such a nutrient-dense herb, adding chives to dairy products boosts the vitamin and nutrient intake alongside boosting the flavor in a healthy, natural way.
6. An Herbal Vinegar
Chives are also popular among herbal vinegar lovers. The plant’s leaves give off the perfect flavor and the right amount of nutrients to be a great choice for cooking with.
White wine vinegar works best as a base for use with chives or other oniony plants. By soaking the leaves of the chive plant in the white wine vinegar, the flavor will soak out and into the liquid mix.
This not only gives a flavor that can be added to practically any dish in the place of a regular vinegar, but the vitamin C and other health benefits of the chive plant will leak out and into the vinegar.
That means that any dish will have an extra boost of healthy eating just by first making an herbal vinegar from the chive plant or herb.
Side Effects/ Caution
1. Poisonous to Dogs
While completely fine normally, some pets have been known to be poisoned by the plant when ingesting it in large quantities. This is due to how packed the herb is with nutrients. [R]
Dogs, in particular, seem to be susceptible to this.
Due to this, it is best to either be conscious of how much your dog may have access to consuming, or limit the availability for your dog to access the plant.
2. Upset Stomach
Though good for digestion in smaller quantities due to the vitamins in it, too much of the plant can certainly cause an upset stomach.
It could also lead to indigestion. This also happens to be due to the combination of minerals and electrolytes found in the plant’s leaves.
3. Pregnancy or Breastfeeding
While there have been no known cases of hospitalization due to an excess of chives during pregnancy or breastfeeding, it could have effects.
Considering how nutrient-rich the food is, as is the problem with a dog’s ingestion, digestion could be worse in a woman who is in the stages of pregnancy.
It is always better to be safe than sorry, and so women in the breastfeeding or pregnancy stages should limit their intake to small or moderate amounts.
Where to Find?
Chives are a June to July flowering plant that can be found ready for a garden in the early to late spring. Otherwise, it can be found year-round in supermarkets with leaves or in herb-form.
It can also be found online on Amazon.