Frequently used as a side dish to add some color to a plate, chives or scallions are often overlooked and overshadowed by other ingredients. Believe it or not, however, this vegetable has much more to offer than a little added color. In fact, scallions are low in calories, rich in nutrients and have some serious health benefits, from improving immunity to reducing fat cells. Convenient, easy to use and incredibly versatile, including a few chives or chives in your diet can do much more than just brighten up your plate.
What are Scallions?
Chives have many names, such as spring onion, green onion, Welsh onion and Allium fistulosum. They are grown and used all over the world, but they are actually native to China. As a member of the Allium family of plants, chives are a close relative of garlic, onions, leeks, shallots and chives and share many of the same health promoting compounds. Chives have long green stems with a thin white bulb. They are harvested early, before the bulb can swell and expand, which differentiates them from other members of the same plant family. Both parts of the green onion are edible and can be used for cooking. Green tapas have a mild onion-like taste, while the white base is a bit more intense in flavor. Although scallions are enjoyed throughout the world in many unique dishes, they are considered a staple in a handful of Asian cuisines and are often found as a star ingredient in Chinese, Japanese and Korean foods. Together with other vegetables from the same family, they are also often an important component of many different diets due to their versatility and health profile. The macrobiotic diet, for example, is a plant-based diet that encourages a high intake of fresh vegetables, such as chives. Chives can also include raw, vegan and raw food diets, among others.
The Main Benefits of Chives Include the Following:
1. Help in Weight Loss:
Chives are low in calories but are nutrient dense foods, which makes them an excellent complement to your diet if you are looking to lose a few pounds. They also contain a good amount of fiber, which provides up to 10 percent of your daily fiber needs for only 32 calories. Fiber can help promote weight loss by keeping you full and reducing hunger. In addition to helping reduce calories and increase fiber, some studies have found that they can also alter the expression of certain genes that are involved in obesity. An animal study found that it reduced body weight and reduced fat cells. It also increased the levels of a specific protein that helps in the breakdown of fat. In another Korean study on animals, an herbal supplement containing a mixture of scallions and violet extract was administered to obese mice, which caused a decrease in both body weight and fat cell size. Including chives in your diet along with many other low-calorie foods such as fruits and vegetables is an easy method to help keep your waistline under control.
2. Help Blood Clotting:
Chives are virtually full of vitamin K. In fact, only a half cup can meet and exceed your vitamin K requirement throughout the day. Vitamin K is a necessary nutrient for many aspects of health, but its critical role in blood clotting stands out in particular. Blood clotting is important to prevent excessive bleeding as a result of an injury. It allows your platelets and plasma, two components of your blood, to form a clot when you are injured, which can help you avoid further blood loss. A vitamin K deficiency can cause symptoms such as easy bruising and bleeding, typically from the gums or nose.
3. Boost Immunity:
Some research has found that scallions can help reactivate your immune system to prevent diseases and infections. This happens mainly by altering the levels of specific cells in the immune system that work to prevent disease and fight foreign invaders in the body. In an animal study, mice were fed onions, which were found to improve immune function by increasing the activity of these important immune cells. Another study isolated a specific compound found in chives and showed that increased antibody production to help fight influenza. Chives also contain a concentrated dose of vitamin C in each serving. It has been shown that foods with vitamin C filled with antioxidants like scallions improve immune function and prevent infections.
4. Improve Heart Health:
Heart disease is a major health problem worldwide and the leading cause of death in much of the world. It has been shown that certain foods, such as scallions, help promote heart health. Chives extract could significantly reduce several risk factors for heart disease such as total cholesterol, triglycerides and bad LDL cholesterol. Recently it was shown that the treatment of rats with scallion extract caused an improvement in blood flow.
“In addition, chives are loaded with vitamin K, which can help protect your heart”.
Vitamin K prevents the stiffness of the arteries by blocking the formation of calcium deposits in the walls of the arteries. Together with chives, a balanced and nutritious diet and a lot of regular physical activity can keep your heart healthy and strong.
5. Improve Bone Health:
In addition to preventing heart disease and improving blood clotting, the vitamin K found in chives can also help strengthen bones. Vitamin K improves bone health by increasing the production of certain protein necessary to maintain bone calcium and increase bone density. One study complemented 241 osteoporosis patients using vitamin K, which reduced the risk of fractures for participants and helped them maintain their bone density. It was also found that a low vitamin K intake was associated with an increased risk of hip fractures in elderly men and women. The vitamin K in chives can work in combination with calcium and vitamin D, so be sure to get some sunlight every day and include plenty of calcium- rich foods in your diet to further improve bone health.
6. It Can Block the Growth of Cancer:
One of the most impressive benefits of chives is that they contain compounds that can help reduce the growth of certain types of cancer. In an animal study, mice with colon cancer were fed chive extract. This was found to suppress tumor growth, decrease inflammation and increase the survival rate of mice. Another study showed that an increased intake of chives was associated with a 30 percent lower risk of prostate cancer. Chives also contain a compound called allicin, which is well known for its cancer-fighting abilities. In a study in China, treatment of stomach cancer cells with allicin simultaneously stopped cancer growth and helped kill cancer cells. Although more research is needed, these studies show that scallions may have some potent properties that could help in the prevention of cancer, which makes them a possible food to fight cancer.
Chives are low in calories but contain a good amount of vitamin K, dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A and folic acid.
One Cup (100 grams) of Chopped Chives Contains Approximately:
- 32 calories
- 3 grams of carbohydrates
- 8 grams of protein
- 2 grams of fat
- 6 grams of fiber
- 207 micrograms of vitamin K (259 percent DV)
- 8 milligrams of vitamin C (31 percent DV)
- 997 IU of vitamin A (20 percent DV)
- 64 micrograms folate (16 percent DV)
- 5 milligrams of iron (8 percent DV)
- 276 milligrams of potassium (8 percent DV)
- 2 milligrams of manganese (8 percent DV)
- 72 milligrams of calcium (7 percent DV)
- Riboflavin 0.1 milligrams (5 percent DV)
- 20 milligrams of magnesium (5 percent DV)
How to Use Chives and Where to Find Them?
- Chives are widely available, easy to use and can be incorporated into a variety of diverse dishes.
- You can find them fresh at any grocery store in the products section. Look for a group that has bright green tops with a firm white base.
- Keep them in the fridge until you are ready to use them. Then, trim a little from the bottom and top, or cut to the desired size.
- Chives can be cooked, roasted, enjoyed raw or used as a side dish to add a touch of color and flavor to your food.
Chives have a rich history of use throughout the world. In fact, even the name “scallion” dates back to the Greek word “askolonion,” which is named after the ancient city of Ashkelon. Today, chives are an integral part of many traditional dishes and festivities. During the Passover Seder, for example, it is traditional for Sephardic Jews to sing “Dayenu” and start a game that involves whipping their family members with scallions. In Vietnam, green onions are fermented and used in dưa hành, a dish that is traditionally served for the Vietnamese New Year. Chives are also a basic ingredient in the palapa, a Filipino seasoning that is used to season dishes or to complete fried foods. In Japan, chives are used in everything from rice dishes to hot pots, while in Mexico, grilled green onions called scallions (or “onions”) are barbecue favorites.
An allergy to onions, although rare, can cause an adverse reaction to chives. Symptoms of an onion allergy include shortness of breath, vomiting, wheezing, itching or skin irritation. If you experience these or any other negative symptoms after eating scallions, you should discontinue use and consult your doctor. Those who take warfarin or another anticoagulant should also consider their intake of scallions. Warfarin is a medicine used to prevent blood clots. Those who take anticoagulants should monitor and maintain the regular intake of vitamin K. While this does not mean that you should avoid all foods with vitamin K altogether, it is important to make sure that you are eating approximately the same amount each day to avoid interfering with your medication.