Chives are an aromatic plant widely used in cooking and possessing different therapeutic properties supported by science. The plant belongs to the same family as garlic and onion
Chives, scientific name Allium schoenoprasum, is a perennial aromatic wild plant belonging to the family Liliaceae. The plant is native to cold regions and can reach a height of half a meter.
Chives, thanks to its aromatic properties, it is widespread in the gardens. The taste is very delicate and tends to fade very quickly. For this reason it should be used fresh and cut at the time. Some chefs hold a chive seedling in the kitchen so they can be used if necessary without its aromatic properties deteriorating.
- Chemical Composition
It goes well with many dishes, especially those with eggs and cheese such as omelettes, pies and omelettes. Furthermore, chives add flavor to a dish without adding extra calories, fat or salt.
|Chemical composition for 100 grams of chives|
Source: USDA Database
Chives: Properties and Benefits
Protects the Sight
According to studies quercetin contained in chives can help patients with macular degeneration to preserve the view. Furthermore lutein and zeaxanthin reduce the oxidative stress of the eyes and slow down the progress of the cataract. (1)
It has good properties antimicrobial, antibacterial and antiviral. The plant’s antimicrobial properties are evidenced by a 2001 study. (2)
A more recent study of 2014 instead supports its antibacterial properties. (3)
It has good diuretic and purifying properties of the body, in herbal medicine the chives come used as a cicatrizant and as an antiscorbutic.
Benefits to the Heart
Thanks to its cardiotonic and stimulating properties of blood circulation, it is able to bring benefits to the heart. The quercetin contained in the leaves has antioxidant properties and seems to be beneficial in case of high blood pressure.
The allicin present in the spice is a sulfur compound known to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Allicin releasing a vasodilator compound (nitric oxide), increases the elasticity of blood vessel walls and consequently lowers blood pressure. According to recent studies the allicin not only lowers LDL cholesterol levels but also increases ones good cholesterol. (4)
The abundance of vitamin C and vitamin E, two powerful antioxidants , is able to counteract the activity of free radicals and thus prevent the oxidation of cell membranes. This feature renders chive herb recommended for the prevention of various heart disease and degenerative diseases.
It contains a lot of vitamin A, phenolic flavonoid antioxidants such as carotenes, lutein and zeaxanthin which are able to protect the lungs and mouth from tumors.
Several studies have shown that the plants belonging to the Liliaceae family, like chives , have anti-tumor properties. A 2002 study suggests that this herb can also help prevent prostate cancer. According to research, the plant would help the body produce glutathione, a compound that allows the body to identify the substances that cause tumors and eliminate them. (5, 6)
Chives is also a good source of vitamin K. Studies confirm that this vitamin plays an important role in bone formation and strengthening them. Also adequate levels of vitamin K in the body limit the damage to the brain.
It is a good source of folic acid which is essential for DNA synthesis. According to studies adequate levels of folic acid in pregnant women are useful to prevent neural tube defects in newborns. (7)
It is an excellent source of dietary fiber, its presence in the diet promotes the health of the intestines, facilitates digestion and helps prevent hemorrhoids and constipation.
It also has antiseptic, callifughe and vermifuge properties, it can be used to fight flu states or to stimulate the appetite. With the leaves it is possible to prepare poultices to cure pimples, burns and insect bites. It also has bactericidal, vasodilatory, digestive and emollient properties.
Collection and Conservation
In addition to the leaves, it is also possible to use flowers for food. The leaves should be cut off at the base, at any time of the year, when they are fully developed.
This way they will grow back quickly and, on average, it can be cut up to four times a season. If you are not interested in flowers, it is advisable to continue to cut it, in this way you will avoid the flowering that takes nourishment and energy away from the leaves.
It is always advisable to eat fresh leaves. If you wanted to keep it would be appropriate freeze it in the special freezer bags. Drying is however not recommended as it would undermine the aromatic and organoleptic properties.
Other types of chives are:
- Chinese chives – Allium tuberosum
- Siberian giant – Allium ledebourianum
- Blue chives – Allium nutans
If taken in moderation, it has no contraindications.
In ancient Rome it was considered, thanks to its vasodilatory properties, a powerful aphrodisiac. It was also thought to be able to regrow hair.
In the German tradition to chives were attributed magical properties. In fact, it was believed that rubbing with its leaves sent away the evil eye.
In Friuli Venezia Giulia it is considered a protected plant and its collection is regulated by a regional law.
Thanks to its pleasant appearance, it is often used in the kitchen to decorate the dishes and, in some cases, also to tie the rolls instead of the common kitchen string.
Maybe Not Everyone Knows That
Chives is native to Asia where, for more than 5.000 years, is used for food for his good aromatic properties. In Europe, on the other hand, this plant has been known for no more than 500 years.
The flowers, although they have less aromatic properties than the leaves, can be used in salads to flavor them and decorate them at the same time.
Chives: Properties and Benefits
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