You may think that chives are only good for making a plate look pretty, or maybe for topping your baked potato. These tiny vegetables, however, can actually deliver some pretty impressive health benefits. Read on to learn about the many ways that chives (or green onions, also known as allium schoenoprasum) can improve your well-being.
1. Digestive Aid
There are unique organic compounds found in chives that help to reduce digestive discomfort, such as gas and bloating. In addition, these little guys have natural antibacterial properties, which can help alleviate discomfort due to bacteria in your digestive tract.
2. Chives Protect Your Heart
Allicin is found in allium schoenoprasum, which has been linked to a reduction of “bad” cholesterol in the body. It is also believed that allicin may lower blood pressure. Quercetin is another component found in chives, and it has been linked to lower cholesterol levels and amounts of plaque in the arteries. These components combined help reduce stress on your heart and arteries, preventing a wide range of cardiovascular issues.
3. Supports Your Immune System
Chives contain a large amount of vitamin C, which naturally helps to strengthen and support your immune system, keeping sicknesses away. Vitamin C also helps stimulate collagen production in the body, which translates to the creation of new cells, tissues, and muscle.
4. Protects Bones
Chives contain many vitamins and minerals, but vitamin K may be one of the most important. This particular vitamin helps to maintain bone integrity and density, and may lessen (or even prevent) conditions such as osteoporosis and arthritis.
5. May Prevent Cancer
Quercetin has been identified by researchers as a possible cancer-prevention component, and chives is full of quercetin. In addition, the vitamins and minerals found in chives contain antioxidant properties which help fight free radicals in the body and reduce your chances of cancer.
5. Protects Your Eyes and Vision
There are carotenes found in chives called lutein and zeaxanthin that both have a great reputation for improving and protecting the health of our eyes. This can mean a prevention or delay of cataracts and macular degeneration.
6. Body Detox
Thanks to its minor diuretic properties, as well as the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants found in this small onion, chives also make for a good whole-body detox. Adding more chives to your diet can help your body eliminate toxins and waste through frequent urination.
7. Supports Healthy Fetal Development
Chives also contain folic acid, which is a crucial component of a pregnant woman’s diet. Folic acid helps to ensure healthy formation of the spinal cord and neural tube, so chives should definitely be added to one’s diet when pregnant (after running it by your physician first).
Who knew that this little green onion could contain so many benefits for your health? Chives are easy to incorporate into many dishes due to their mild flavor, and even the onion-hater will not be opposed to its use.
How to Use Chives
Chives are a delicate and tasty herb, which can be used in various different dishes when cooking. There are certain rules to take into account in terms of how to store and how to use this delicious herb:
1. Keep them away from heat
It’s not advisable to apply heat to chives, this is because the vitamin C which is packed inside will get damaged, preventing proper absorption; in addition, heating up chives will rob them of their beneficial digestive elements.
2. Preserve their vitamins as much as possible
Cut up your chives a short while before using in your cooking or for garnish. This will help keep their rich flavor, and keep the delicious scent and vitamins in tact. Cut them with a scissors, rather than chopping.
3. Grow your own!
Anything you grow yourself is always better, and this herb can be grown on your windowsill or in a small dish or pot. Don’t cut until you can see around six or seven inches, and make sure to cut the leaves from the herb on a regular basis—once you see flowers, it means the herb starts to lose its potency.
4. Preserve your herbs by freezing
It is possible to freeze your chives to make them last longer. Chives are very amenable to freezing because it helps them keep their fresh flavor for much longer. All you need to do is cut them into small pieces and make your own chive ice cubes. To use, simply defrost and strain.
How to Cook with Chives
As we have mentioned, chives are a very fragile, so you don’t need to pack too many other flavors into your dishes. The flowers aren’t as potent as the leaves, but they can be used as garnish and look very impressive.
Here are a few chive-inspired dishes you might like to try:
Oil of Chive
This is easy to make and should be kept in the fridge afterwards.
- Take 1.5oz of the flower from the chive and add it to 1 quarter of olive oil (or oil of choice).
- Leave to marinade for one week—you will see that the mixture will turn a light purple color and will have a delicious scent.
- You can then use the oil for many purposes, such as for cooking or as a dressing.
Salt Flavored With Salt
Chive-flavored salt can give your dishes a slightly onion-like taste, and again, is very easy to make.
- Take as much salt as you need, adding in the leaves of the herb.
- Cook the mixture in the oven—this mixes the flavors together and dries everything out.
- Let it cool and store in a container with the lid tightly closed to keep the air out.
Chivey Cottage Cheese
Give your cottage cheese a twist by adding chive flavor to the mixture.
- 8 oz. of your favorite cottage cheese
- 1 tbsp. of a good quality mustard
- One shallot
- One bunch cut chives
- Paprika – ½ tsp.
- Salt and pepper to taste
Mix together the mustard and the cottage cheese until well combined. Add in the shallot and stir. Next, add around 2/3 of the chives, paprika, salt and pepper, and stir again. Lastly, add the rest of the chives as a garnish.
Start adding chives to more of your dishes today, from casseroles to omelettes, and improve your health with every bite.
A Few Words of Caution
- Do not use chives if you have an allergy to the herb or any other herb which is part of the Liliaceae group.
- Side effects of chives include an upset stomach, itchiness or redness of the skin, or a rash.
- If you have a bleeding condition or you are on blood thinning drugs, such as Warfarin, heed caution when using chives, as they have been known to heighten bleeding risk. Consult with your healthcare professional regarding the dosage of your medication in this case.
- Hypotension, also known as low blood pressure, is a side effect of the herb. Exercise caution if you are on medication for this condition.