7 Surprising Benefits of Chives

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

The most important health benefits of chives may include their ability to boost heart and bone health, regulate digestion, boost vision, protect against birth defects, and boost the immune system.

What are Chives?

Chives are the smallest member of the onion genus, Allium. With the full scientific classification of Allium schoenoprasum [1]this tiny vegetable has a wide range of uses and benefits for human health. This herb (as it is commonly used) is native to Europe, North America, and parts of Asia, but is now widespread across the globe, as it has become a very popular addition to many culinary dishes.

Chives are bulbous plants, but their stems are long and hollow, which is the edible part of the plant. These hollow stems are commonly sliced and added to fish, soups, sauces, salads, Mexican cuisine, potato dishes, and a wide range of other meals. The unopened flower buds can also be ground into a useful spice, but more commonly seen are the freshly chopped stems.

The taste isn’t very similar to members of the Allium genus, and they are generally considered to have a mild, pleasant flavor that is subtle in culinary applications. In terms of medicinal use, they have been used dating back to the Roman Empire, but they were likely utilized far before that. They have similar medicinal properties as garlic, although not nearly as potent, their more palatable nature makes them more versatile in food dishes, so the benefits may be more accessible than other members of the Allium genus. [2]

Chopped and full chives on a wooden cutting board

Chives may help improve sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutrition Facts

Chives, raw
Serving Size :
Water [g]90.65
Energy 30
Energy [kJ]126
Protein [g]3.27
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.73
Ash [g]1
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]4.35
Fiber, total dietary [g]2.5
Sugars, total including NLEA [g]1.85
Calcium, Ca [mg]92
Iron, Fe [mg]1.6
Magnesium, Mg [mg]42
Phosphorus, P [mg]58
Potassium, K [mg]296
Sodium, Na [mg]3
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.56
Copper, Cu [mg]0.16
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.37
Selenium, Se [µg]0.9
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]58.1
Thiamin [mg]0.08
Riboflavin [mg]0.12
Niacin [mg]0.65
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.32
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.14
Folate, total [µg]105
Folate, food [µg]105
Folate, DFE [µg]105
Choline, total [mg]5.2
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]218
Carotene, beta [µg]2612
Vitamin A, IU [IU]4353
Lutein + zeaxanthin [µg]323
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.21
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]212.7
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.15
14:0 [g]0.03
16:0 [g]0.1
18:0 [g]0.01
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.1
18:1 [g]0.1
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.27
18:2 [g]0.25
18:3 [g]0.02
Phytosterols [mg]9
Tryptophan [g]0.04
Threonine [g]0.13
Isoleucine [g]0.14
Leucine [g]0.2
Lysine [g]0.16
Methionine [g]0.04
Phenylalanine [g]0.11
Tyrosine [g]0.1
Valine [g]0.15
Arginine [g]0.24
Histidine [g]0.06
Alanine [g]0.15
Aspartic acid [g]0.3
Glutamic acid [g]0.68
Glycine [g]0.16
Proline [g]0.22
Serine [g]0.15
Sources include : USDA [3]

Health Benefits of Chives

Health benefits of chives include:

May Help Treat Digestive Issues

The allyl sulfides and other unique organic compounds found in chives may deliver similar benefits to the body as garlic, and can effectively ease digestive discomfort. Furthermore, they have natural antibacterial qualities that can eliminate a wide range of bacteria, particularly those in the salmonella family, which can wreak havoc on your gastrointestinal system. More specifically, they can increase the nutrient uptake efficiency of your gut, ensuring that you get as many of the nutrients from your food as possible. [4]

May Improve Heart Health

One of the most important organic compounds found in chives is allicin, which has recently been linked to reduced levels of LDL or bad cholesterol in the body and improved heart health. Allicin is also connected to lowering blood pressure. When combined with the vasodilatory effects of potassium, this herb can have a major impact on reducing cardiovascular strain. Furthermore, another organic compound, quercetin, has been directly connected to lowering cholesterol levels and plaque in the arteries. It is linked to preventing atherosclerosis. [5]

May Boost Immunity

Most of the attention gets thrown at the organic compounds in chives, but the traditional nutrients are important too! The high levels of vitamin C in this herb help boost the efficacy of the immune system by stimulating the production of white blood cells and stimulating the production of collagen, which is an essential component in the creation of new blood vessels, cells, tissues, and muscles. [6]

May Improve Bone Health

There is a wide range of vitamins and minerals found in chives, but one of the most important is certainly vitamin K, an essential nutrient that isn’t widely found in many common foods. Vitamin K is very important in the maintenance of bone mineral density and bone integrity. As we age, our bone mineral density begins to drop, leading to conditions like osteoporosis and exacerbating inflammatory conditions like arthritis. High levels of vitamin K, like those found in this herb, can help to produce osteocalcin, which is a key part of maintaining mineral density in the bones. [7]

May Improve Vision

The carotenes found in chives, namely lutein and zeaxanthin, are directly responsible for reducing oxidative stress in the ocular system and delaying the appearance of cataracts in the eye. They also help to slow or prevent macular degeneration, keeping your eyes healthy well into your old age. [8]

Might Help Prevent Birth Defects

Another of the essential nutrients in chives, folic acid, is essential for pregnant mothers who want to ensure the healthy development of their infant. Folic acid prevents neural tube defects in new-born infants, and this herb is a rich source of folic acid for conscientious mothers. [9]

Might Detoxify the Body

Chives have mild diuretic properties and combined with the other potentially free-radical scavenging and antibacterial qualities, chives are a wonderful way to detoxify the body. By stimulating urination, chives can help the body get rid of excess toxins, salts, water, and even fat, keeping the organ systems running smoothly and clearing out any dangerous substances that could do us harm. [10]

Word of Caution: Chives are not typically considered to be an allergenic substance and very few reports of negative reactions exist. However, an excessive amount of chives, with a high concentration of powerful organic compounds, can cause stomach discomfort. If you are allergic to onions or other members of the Allium genus, consult a medical professional before adding chives to your regular diet.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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