Chives is a species of flowering plant in the family Amaryllidaceae that produces edible leaves and flowers. Its close relatives include onions, garlic, spring onions, shallots, scallions and leeks. Chives are normally finely chopped and used as a garnish in various recipes such as baked potatoes, egg dishes, rice and noodles dishes, soups, sauces pesto, burgers, bread and salads. Chives must never be cooked, otherwise you will end up with a soggy mess. When you grow your own chives or buy from farm shops, you are more likely to benefit from the purple or lavender flowers as well, which sadly is often not available from chives sold in other shops or supermarkets. These purple or lavender flowers have a delicate onion-garlic taste and can be used to flavour and add colour to your dishes.
There are various types of chives, such as garlic chives and the common onion chives. They are easy to grow, even if you do not have access to a garden or balcony as they can grow in a small pot which can be kept in a sunny area of your window sill. The flowers attract bees and other beneficial insects to your garden and repels some unwanted pests. When you buy a pot of living chives which are in soil instead of the cut chives, it will feed you for a lot more meals as it grows very fast. If you do buy cut chives, then store them in a cool place or in the refridgerator in a plastic bag and these should keep for at least a week. We do not recommend cut chives as these would be affected by oxidation, so the benefits you get from cut chives will be minimal compared to living chives that are only cut once you are ready to consume it.
Please note that chives are poisonous to cats and dogs if eaten regularly or in large quantities. Certain breeds such as the smaller dogs are more sensitive. It causes damage to the red blood cells making them more likely to rupture, leading to anemia.
Chives are a nutrient-dense food, which means they are low in calories but high in beneficial nutrients such as Vitamins, Minerals and Antioxidants. It is rich in Vitamin A, which is beta carotene, Vitamin C and iron and consuming these regularly will help prevent the common cold, flu and other viruses as it strengthens your immune system. If you have a runny nose or fever, eat chives daily and you will find yourself better very quickly. It forms part of the superfoods in the Allium family as it contains flavanoids that stimulate the production of glutathione, the tripeptide that is the liver’s most potent antioxidant. Beta carotene is an antioxidant that boosts skin radiance, health and offers anti-aging benefits, including reducing fine lines and wrinkles.
The green stems or scapes in chives are rich in sulfur compounds and this is a great disinfectant, which is why most insects cannot tolerate its smell and taste. It can be used to treat infections as it has anti bacterial properties. Chives are also rich in Vitamin D, E and fibre. Certain compounds found in chives such as sulfur can deter cancerous cells from growing or spreading in the body.
Chives are also high in Vitamin K which is an important component in blood clotting and bone density. It may therefore prevent diseases such as osteoporosis, which is the thinning of bones, from developing in later life. Chives also contain Choline and Folate which is important for maintaining great memory, mood, muscle control and other brain and nervous system functions. Those who eat more foods that are high in choline and folate often do better in cognitive tests and also reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and Dementia in later life. Folic acid is essential for pregnant mums who want to ensure the healthy development of their infant. It prevents neural tube defects in new born babies. Folic acid also boosts the production of dopamine and serotonin, which are feel-good hormones that boosts your mood.
Chives, especially the purple or lavender chive flowers contain lutein and zeaxanthin which are carotenoids that prevent age-related macular degeneration. Carotenoids are pigments in plants, vegetables and fruits that give them unique pigment colours. Chives also contain quercetin which helps preserve vision in those with macular degeneration.
Chives are also alkaline with an 7.5pH once digested. It is therefore a great addition to your daily meals to maintain your body’s acid and alkaline balance. This is important as an over acidic body is one of the main causes of most illnesses and diseases. Chives may also improve heart health as it comtains allicin, which is a compound found to reduce levels of bad cholesterol which is LDL.
Chives help ease the digestion process as it helps the body get rid of harmful bacteria, fungi and yeast in your intestinal tract that may otherwise hamper digestion. The antibacterial properties in chives can eliminate harmful bacteria such as salmonella which can cause intestinal distress. Chives can also relieve flatulence and stimulate digestion.
As chives are easy to grow and include in your meals, ensure you incorporate this nutrient dense herb as frequently as you can. It can be added to omelettes, scrambled eggs, poached eggs, boiled eggs or fried eggs, sandwiches, yoghurts, cheese and other cooked dishes.
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