Chive has thin leaves with hollow tubes and funny little purple balls like a flower (please see picture). It is an edible species of the Allium genus commonly used to sprinkle on top of soup just before serving. Fresh chives are so good that you need less salt for seasoning food when it is used in the marination. Therefore, it is an ideal plant for people who adopt a low-sodium diet. It is also rich in antioxidant.
However, chive only cannot meet the body’s antioxidant needs, but combined with other antioxidants it is very beneficial. The majority of studies on it have been conducted in animals from its extracts. The extract is used to be able to isolate and concentrate the active ingredients, and to understand the mechanisms of action. In humans, it is difficult to assess all chives health benefits given the quantities consumed are generally low.
Antioxidants are compounds which reduce the damage caused by free radicals in the body. These are highly reactive molecules that are involved in the onset of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and other diseases related to premature aging. Some researchers evaluated the antioxidant capacity of chive and all agree that fresh chives have a significant antioxidant capacity, sometimes even higher than some fruits and vegetables. This demonstrates that indeed its regularly use in a diet contributes to antioxidant intake. The antioxidant activity may be due to its modest content in vitamin C and carotenoids, but especially to the presence of flavonoids.
Chives Nutrition Facts
Vitamins and Minerals
Chive is rich in minerals and vitamins but the fact it is almost never consumed in large quantities makes it difficult for consumers to benefit them. The extract would be a great way to intake these vitamins and minerals. For instance, In 100 grams of chive there is 98% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C and 145% RDA of vitamin A. This is relatively the largest supplier of vitamin A from the family of garlic. One ounce contains 177% RDA for vitamin K. There are also plenty of vitamin B11 (also known as Salicylic acid), which plays an important role in the growth and development of the plants as well as in various other functions such as photosynthesis, ion uptake and in transpiration. High consumption also provides Vitamin B1, B2, B5, and B6; finally vitamin B complex.
There are also many minerals in chives. Here is a brief summary of mineral values per 100 grams: iron, copper, manganese, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus and zinc. When compare with frequent mineral values in certain vegetables, fruits and herbs, these values are quite high for a tiny spice.
Chives Medicinal Uses
Chives have many medicinal properties ranging from diuretic to anticancer. It stimulates digestion and appetite. They are good for blood circulation. As each member of the family of garlic chives contain many antioxidants. They contain almost all medicinal properties of garlic but in milder form. Although it is recommended less than garlic, it in fact has more advantages when it comes to smell and taste. Dried chives can be mixed with butter to enrich cheese sandwich and other breakfasts or meals. Dried chives are also in tea as well as in salads. Raw or cooked it does not leave strong odor as it is the case of garlic.
Chives and Stomach Cancer
An epidemiological study shows that consumption of vegetables of allium family (including chives, garlic and onion) could prevent cancers of the stomach and esophagus. The research shows that people consuming Chinese chives one to three times a month would have 64% to 74% lower risk of suffering from esophageal cancer and stomach cancer than people who consume less than once per month. As mechanisms of action, the authors propose the antibacterial and antifungal properties of vegetable allium family. The scientists believe inhibition of bacterial growth in the stomach may reduce the formation of carcinogens as well.
Chives and Prostate Cancer
Another study found that the consumption of vegetables from the family of allium may reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Men consuming more than 10 grams per day of these vegetables (including Chinese chives) would have 49% less risk of developing prostate cancer. Note that these two studies, conducted in China, evaluated the effects of Chinese chives consumption, less known in the West. The sulfur compounds may be responsible for the observed effects, preventing different metabolic processes leading to the development of cancer. However, the researchers decide that these presumed effects must be verified in human studies prior to establishing a causal link between the active ingredients and cancer prevention.
Other Scientific studies conducted in other countries on health benefits of chives, particularly in fighting prostate cancer, stomach cancer and cancer of the esophagus reported positive results. It is demonstrated that Phytonutrients in the plant help stop the growth of cancer cells and interfere with the life cycle of cancerous cells.
- Campanella L, Bonanni A,et al.Determination of antioxidant properties of aromatic herbs, olives and fresh fruit using an enzymatic sensor. Anal Bioanal Chem. 2003;375:1011-1016.
2. Ninfali P, Mea G, Giorgini S et al. Antioxidant capacity of vegetables, spices and dressings relevant to nutrition. Br J Nutr. 2005;93:257-266.
3. Zheng W, Wang SY. Antioxidant activity and phenolic compounds in selected herbs. J Agric Food Chem. 2001;49:5165-5170.
4. Fossen T, Slimestad R, Ovstedal DO, et al. Covalent anthocyanin-flavonol complexes from flowers of chive, Allium schoenoprasum. Phytochemistry. 2000;54:317-323.
5. Stajner D, Canadanovic-Brunet J, Pavlovic A. Allium schoenoprasum L., as a natural antioxidant. Phytother Res. 2004;18:522-524.
6. Gao CM, Takezaki T, et al. 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. Jpn J Cancer Res. 1999;90:614-621.
7. Hsing AW, Chokkalingam AP, et al. Allium vegetables and risk of prostate cancer: a population-based study. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2002;94:1648-1651.
8. Bianchini F, Vainio H. Allium vegetables and organosulfur compounds: do they help prevent cancer?Environ Health Perspect. 2001;109:893-902.
9. Lam YW, Ng TB. A monomeric mannose-binding lectin from inner shoots of the edible chive (Allium tuberosum). J Protein Chem. 2001;20:361-366.
10. Klein NJ. Mannose-binding lectin: do we need it?Mol Immunol. 2005;42:919-924.