Chives are a hardy perennial herb found across much of North America, Europe, and Asia. It is the common name of Allium schoenoprasum, which is an edible species of the Allium genus. Chives belong to the same family as garlic, shallots, leeks, and scallions.1 Apart from the regular chives, there is also Chinese chives or garlic chives (Allium tuberosum). Garlic chives are called so for its taste—it tastes like garlic.
Chives are an excellent source of iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sulfur, copper, and manganese as well as vitamins A and C. They also provide healthy amounts of thiamin, niacin, zinc, phosphorus, and riboflavin.2
The medicinal properties of chives are similar to those of garlic but weaker. As a result, they are not used much as a medicinal herb. Chives are also believed to have a mild stimulant, diuretic, and antiseptic properties.3 The highest antioxidant activity in chives was noticed in its leaves.4 Chives also boast of anti-scavenging properties, which means that it is good against cancer and tumors.5
Let’s have a look at the health benefits of chives in detail.
1. Mighty Cancer Fighter
Allium vegetables, including garlic, onions, leeks, chives, scallions, and shallots, are rich in flavanols and organosulfur compounds. These are seen to inhibit tumor growth and fight against cancer, especially prostate cancer.6
Regular intake of allium vegetables has also been inversely correlated with the reduced risk of esophageal and stomach cancer. These vegetables showed a significant protective effect especially against these two types of cancers.7
Yet another reason why chives are good against cancer is that they are rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants help destroy cancer cells and also prevent further growth of cancerous cells and tumors. The presence of vitamin C and vitamin K in chives also contribute to this cancer prevention by reducing the levels of free radicals in the body.8 Another compound found in chives, quercetin,9 has also shown remarkable benefits in cancer prevention.10
2. Maintains Healthy Blood Pressure And Heart
Allicin is one of the most significant compounds that have been identified in chives. Studies show that allicin is capable of reducing the bad cholesterol in the blood as well as improving the health of the heart.11 Meanwhile, the potassium content in chives is said to be beneficial in reducing strains on the cardiovascular system as well as lowering blood pressure by aiding in vasodilation.12
Additionally, the presence of quercetin has been directly linked to lowering cholesterol levels as well as reducing plaque in the arteries.13
3. Chives Against Arthritis
As we all know, garlic and onions have excellent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. The organosulfur compounds in these plants scavenge oxidizing agents and inhibit the oxidation of fatty acids. This helps prevent the formation of pro‐inflammatory messengers inside the body.14 Since chives are from the same family, this herb too can effectively aid in the therapeutic treatment of inflammation seen in arthritis.
4. Better Bone Strength
While there are quite a few vitamins and minerals in chives, one of the most important ones would probably be vitamin K. Especially so because vitamin K is not found in most other foods. Vitamin K functions in retaining or maintaining bone mineral density and calcium in the bone matrix. It’s a good vitamin in the fight against osteoporosis since it can help produce osteocalcin, which is a key part of maintaining mineral density in the bones.15 Studies also show that vitamin K consumption can also reduce urinary excretion of calcium.16
5. Vitamin A For Eyes
Chives contain more vitamin A than all other allium family members. Vitamins A has been shown to be responsible for reducing oxidative stress in the optical system and delaying the appearance of cataracts. Studies also show that vitamin A can help reduce, if not prevent, macular degeneration. Moreover, the antioxidants and flavonoids present in chives also aid in proper eye health.17
6. Gets Toxins Out
Like most other allicins in the family, chives, too possess diuretic properties.18 When combined with its free-radical scavenging and antibacterial properties, chives seem to work as a highly effective detoxification agent.19 The vitamins C and E that are present in chives also work to boost overall immunity.20 21
7. Chives During Pregnancy
Fresh chives are rich sources of folates.22 As we all know, folic acid is essential for DNA synthesis and cell division. Adequate folate levels in the diet during pregnancy may help prevent neural tube defects in the newborn babies.23 Studies have shown that folic acid supplementation can also reduce the risk of stroke.24
Another area where folic acid is beneficial is cognitive functioning. Studies show that folic acid supplementation can increase memory, information processing speed, and sensorimotor speed—all of which tend to decline with age.25
8. Heals Wounds Faster
Numerous studies have been done on the wound healing properties of allicin, a compound found in chives, garlic, onions, etc. Studies have shown that allium can accelerate wound healing as well as maintain the sterility of the wound.26 The antibacterial, antifungal properties of allicin suggest that it can be used in the treatment or prevention of a variety of infections.27 With chives being rich in vitamin C, it is believed to be quite helpful in fighting common cold, too.
What Part Of Chives Do You Eat?
Every part of the chive plant is edible. While the purple flowers of chives are mostly used in salads, the leaves are used when cooking potatoes, fish, sauces or sandwiches. The bulbs can be used much like an onion. However, the main edible part of the chives are the long stalks or leaves. Since they are quite delicate, they should not be cooked.
Garlic chives, however, can be cooked. Cooked garlic chives are believed to help with digestive, liver, and kidney related problems.
Apart from the taste, another major difference between chives and garlic chives is the flowers. Chives boast of a luscious purple flower that is rich in health benefits while garlic chives have delicate white flowers that are mostly used for ornamental purposes. The leaves of both these chives too are different. While regular chives have a hollow leaf, Chinese chives have flat, grass-like leaves.
|↑1||Sharifi-Rad, J., D. Mnayer, G. Tabanelli, Z. Z. Stojanović-Radić, M. Sharifi-Rad, Z. Yousaf, L. Vallone, W. N. Setzer, and M. Iriti. “Plants of the genus Allium as antibacterial agents: From tradition to pharmacy.” Cellular and molecular biology (Noisy-le-Grand, France) 62, no. 9 (2016): 57-68.|
|↑2, ↑4||Asadi-Pooya, A. A., A. R. Nikseresht, and E. Yaghoubi. “Old Remedies for Epilepsy: Avicenna’s Medicine.” Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal 14, no. 3 (2012): 174.|
|↑3||Charles, Denys J. “Chives.” In Antioxidant Properties of Spices, Herbs and Other Sources, pp. 225-229. Springer New York, 2012.|
|↑5||Sengupta, Archana, Samit Ghosh, and Shamee Bhattacharjee. “Allium vegetables in cancer prevention: an overview.” Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention 5, no. 3 (2004): 237-245.|
|↑6||Hsing, Ann W., Anand P. Chokkalingam, Yu-Tang Gao, M. Patricia Madigan, Jie Deng, Gloria Gridley, and Joseph F. Fraumeni Jr. “Allium vegetables and risk of prostate cancer: a population-based study.” Journal of the National Cancer Institute 94, no. 21 (2002): 1648-1651.|
|↑7||Gao, Chang‐Ming, Toshiro Takezaki, Jian‐Hua Ding, Mao‐Sheng Li, and Kazuo Tajima. “Protective Effect of Allium Vegetables against Both Esophageal and Stomach Cancer: A Simultaneous Case‐referent Study of a High‐epidemic Area in Jiangsu Province, China.” Cancer Science 90, no. 6 (1999): 614-621.|
|↑8||Block, Gladys. “The data support a role for antioxidants in reducing cancer risk.” Nutrition reviews 50, no. 7 (1992): 207-213.|
|↑9||Bilyk, Alexander, and Gerald M. Sapers. “Distribution of quercetin and kaempferol in lettuce, kale, chive, garlic chive, leek, horseradish, red radish, and red cabbage tissues.” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 33, no. 2 (1985): 226-228.|
|↑10||Murakami, Akira, Hitoshi Ashida, and Junji Terao. “Multitargeted cancer prevention by quercetin.” Cancer letters 269, no. 2 (2008): 315-325.|
|↑11||Ali, M., K. K. Al-Qattan, F. Al-Enezi, R. M. A. Khanafer, and T. Mustafa. “Effect of allicin from garlic powder on serum lipids and blood pressure in rats fed with a high cholesterol diet.” Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids (PLEFA) 62, no. 4 (2000): 253-259.|
|↑12||Bünger, Rolf, Francis J. Haddy, Axel Querengässer, and Eckehart Gerlach. “Studies on potassium induced coronary dilation in the isolated guinea pig heart.” Pflügers Archiv European Journal of Physiology 363, no. 1 (1976): 27-31.|
|↑13||López-Revuelta, Abel, José I. Sánchez-Gallego, Angel Hernández-Hernández, Jesús Sánchez-Yagüe, and Marcial Llanillo. “Membrane cholesterol contents influence the protective effects of quercetin and rutin in erythrocytes damaged by oxidative stress.” Chemico-biological interactions 161, no. 1 (2006): 79-91.|
|↑14, ↑27||Wilson, Emily A., and Barbara Demmig-Adams. “Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties of garlic and onions.” Nutrition & food science 37, no. 3 (2007): 178-183.|
|↑15||Weber, Peter. “Vitamin K and bone health.” Nutrition 17, no. 10 (2001): 880-887.|
|↑16||Knapen, Marjo HJ, Karly Hamulyák, and Cees Vermeer. “The effect of vitamin K supplementation on circulating osteocalcin (bone Gla protein) and urinary calcium excretion.” Ann Intern Med 111, no. 12 (1989): 1001-1005.|
|↑17||Beatty, Stephen, Hui-Hiang Koh, M. Phil, David Henson, and Michael Boulton. “The role of oxidative stress in the pathogenesis of age-related macular degeneration.” Survey of ophthalmology 45, no. 2 (2000): 115-134.|
|↑18||Pantoja, C. V., B. C. Norris, and C. M. Contreras. “Diuretic and natriuretic effects of a chromatographically purified fraction of garlic (Allium sativum).” Journal of ethnopharmacology 52, no. 2 (1996): 101-105.|
|↑19||Ahsan, Monira, A. K. Chowdbury, S. N. Islam, and Z. U. Ahmed. “Garlic extract and allicin: broad spectrum antibacterial agents effective against multiple drug resistant strains of Shigella dysenteriae type 1 and Shigella flexneri, enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli and Vibrio cholerae.” Phytotherapy Research 10, no. 4 (1996): 329-331.|
|↑20||Tengerdy, Robert P., Melvin M. Mathias, and Cheryl F. Nockels. “Vitamin E, immunity and disease resistance.” In Diet and resistance to disease, pp. 27-42. Springer US, 1981.|
|↑21||Kennes, Bernard, Isabelle Dumont, Dany Brohee, Claude Hubert, and Pierre Neve. “Effect of vitamin C supplements on cell-mediated immunity in old people.” Gerontology 29, no. 5 (1983): 305-310.|
|↑22||Iwatani, Y., J. Arcot, and A. K. Shrestha. “Determination of folate contents in vegetables.” Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition 10 (2001): S18.|
|↑23||Milunsky, Aubrey, Hershel Jick, Susan S. Jick, Carol L. Bruell, Dean S. MacLaughlin, Kenneth J. Rothman, and Walter Willett. “Multivitamin/folic acid supplementation in early pregnancy reduces the prevalence of neural tube defects.” Jama 262, no. 20 (1989): 2847-2852.|
|↑24||Wang, Xiaobin, Xianhui Qin, Hakan Demirtas, Jianping Li, Guangyun Mao, Yong Huo, Ningling Sun, Lisheng Liu, and Xiping Xu. “Efficacy of folic acid supplementation in stroke prevention: a meta-analysis.” The Lancet 369, no. 9576 (2007): 1876-1882.|
|↑25||Durga, Jane, Martin PJ van Boxtel, Evert G. Schouten, Frans J. Kok, Jelle Jolles, Martijn B. Katan, and Petra Verhoef. “Effect of 3-year folic acid supplementation on cognitive function in older adults in the FACIT trial: a randomised, double blind, controlled trial.” The Lancet 369, no. 9557 (2007): 208-216.|
|↑26||Sidik, K., A. A. Mahmood, and I. Salmah. “Acceleration of wound healing by aqueous extract of Allium sativum in combination with honey on cutaneous wound healing in rats.” International Journal of Molecular Medicine and Advance Sciences 2, no. 2 (2006): 231-235.|