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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Chives - A-K

by Francine

photo via
My mom, who is Roumanian, but who moved to France when she was five and considers herself French, loves chives. In fact, she loves everything in the allium family, as do the French in general. I used to hate when she had onions, because as a child I hated them. And just like garlic--when someone is eating them and you're not--let's face it--their breath STINKS! I used to give her a hard time when I saw her eating her onion and sardine sandwiches, which of course now I realize are jam-packed with all kinds of amazing nutrition. Anyway, mom--if you happen to be reading this, know that I love you and have grown to appreciate many of what I used to consider less than appealing eating habits. (Although the raw ground beef topped with a raw egg is still in the same category it used to be--Ewwww!)

Interesting little tidbit about chives (particularly interesting if you are a gardener): Chives are beneficial to rose bushes, since they emit an odor which discourages aphids. I love this sort of thing as it pertains to growing. People into organic and biodynamic farming have devoted themselves to learning the natural ways to prevent "pests" and to work in harmony with plants and animals to grow healthily and bountifully.

As usual--when you eat fresh produce from the earth in the form of greens, roots, etc.(especially if it has been grown free of pesticides, sustainably, etc) --you're doing yourself a big favor. Not just in flavor, but in health benefits. And eating chives is no exception.  

Allium herbs were popular among the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. The strong odor, so typical of these herbs, is due to a variety of sulfur compounds, such as alkyl sulfoxides and allyl sulfides. These are all reported to have beneficial effects on the circulatory, digestive and respiratory systems. 

I found these interesting attributes on and the vegetarian nutrition link listed below:
  • Like in scallions, they contain more plant derived dietary fiber than fellow allium members like onions, shallots, leeks. . . etc. 100 g fresh leaves provide 2.5 g or 7% of daily-recommended levels of dietary fiber.
  • Like other allium members, they too possess thio-sulfinites anti-oxidants. Thio-sufinites such as diallyl disulfide, diallyl trisulfide and allyl propyl disulfide convert to allicin by enzymatic reaction when its leaves disrupted (crushing, cutting etc). Laboratory studies show that allicin reduces cholesterol production by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase enzyme in the liver cells. Further, it also found to have anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal activities.
  • Allicin also decreases blood vessel stiffness by release of nitric oxide (NO); thereby bring reduction in the total blood pressure. It also blocks platelet clot formation and has fibrinolytic action in the blood vessels, which helps decrease overall risk of coronary artery disease (CAD), peripheral vascular diseases (PVD), and stroke.
  • Chives have exceptionally more vitamin A than any other allium family member vegetables.100 g of fresh leaves contain 4353 IU of vitamin-A or 145% of daily recommended levels. In addition, their green leaves have other flavonoid phenolic anti-oxidants such as carotenes, zeaxanthin, and lutein. Together, they help body protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
  • They also have some other essential vitamins such as vitamin C and K. In fact, chives are one of the richest sources of vitamin K, slightly more than that of scallions. 100 g of fresh greens provide 212.7 µg or about 177% of daily recommended intake. Vitamin K has potential role in bone health by promoting osteotrophic (bone formation and strengthening) activity. Adequate vitamin-K levels in the diet helps limiting neuronal damage in the brain; thus, has established role in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.
  • Fresh chives are rich source of folates.100 g fresh leaves provide 105 µg or 26% of DRI of folates. 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.
  • Furthermore, the leaves are packed with other B-complex vitamins as well as some essential minerals such as copper, iron, manganese, zinc, and calcium. The leafy greens contain several vital vitamins such as pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin in healthy proportions. 

    Population studies have shown that a higher intake of allium vegetables is associated with a reduced risk of several types of cancers. The organosulfur compounds they contain inhibit tumor growth and cell proliferation, and arrest the cell cycle in tumor cells. Allium vegetables, including chives, especially have a protective effect against both esophageal and stomach cancer as well as prostate cancer. The highest antioxidant activity in chives is observed in the leaves, which are also rich in flavonoids. 

    Like most herbs (dare I say all?) chives are best when fresh--more flavor, more nutrition. Personally I love sauteed tofu and use it as a base for so many meals. Try some tofu sprinkled generously with chopped chives. (Add a little cilantro while you're at it. . . Go crazy!)


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