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Chives nutrition facts

Sweet, mild-onion flavored chives are fresh top greens of lily family vegetables. The leaves are round and hollow, similar to onions, but smaller in diameter, somewhat appear like grass from the distance. They should not be confused to green onions, which are top greens of young, immature onion plants or scallions, which are top greens of Allium fistulosum (welsh onion). Along with chervil, parseley, and tarragon, they make perfectly balanced quartet of classic French fines herbes (fine herbs).

Botanically, their bright green leave tubules belong to the family of alliaceae, of the genus: Allium. Scientific name: Allium schoenoprasum (common or onion chives).

Chives are small perennial herbs growing in clumps, probably originated from Siberian highlands. The herb grows best in full sun and a well-drained soil. Plants can be grown from seed or divisions of 2 to 3 bulbs. Fully-grown plant reaches about 8-12 inches in height. Trim off the leaves periodically to keep the plant vigorous. In fact, all plantings should be divided every two to three years to prevent over-crowding and diseases. Unlike in onions and garlic, their small underground bulbs have unpleasant taste and not used in cooking. Flower stems, which rise directly from the base, grow slightly taller than leaves and bears small clusters of mauve or purple flower heads.

Some of different cultivars of chives include:

1. Giant Siberian (Allium ledebourianum),

2. Chinese or garlic chives (Allium tuberosum),

3. Siberian garlic types (Allium nutans).

Health benefits of Chives

  • Chives are very low in calories; 100 g of fresh leaves provide just 30 calories. Nonetheless, they contain many noteworthy flavonoid anti-oxidants, plant fiber, minerals, and vitamins that have proven health benefits.

  • 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.


See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum L.), Nutrient value per 100 g.
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 30 Kcal 1%
Carbohydrates 4.35 g 3%
Protein 3.27 g 6%
Total Fat 0.73 g 3%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 2.5 g 7%

Folates 105 µg 26%
Niacin 0.647 mg 4%
Pantothenic acid 0.324 mg 6.5%
Pyridoxine 0.138 mg 11%
Riboflavin 0.115 mg 9%
Thiamin 0.078 mg 6.5%
Vitamin A 4353 IU 145%
Vitamin C 58.1 mg 98%
Vitamin E 0.21 mg 1.5%
Vitamin K 212.7 µg 177%

Sodium 3 mg <0.5%
Potassium 296 mg 6%

Calcium 92 mg 9%
Copper 0.157 mg 17%
Iron 1.60 mg 20%
Magnesium 42 mg 10.5%
Manganese 0.373 mg 16%
Phosphorus 58 mg 8%
Selenium 0.9 µg 2%
Zinc 0.56 mg 5%

Carotene-ß 2612 µg --
Crypto-xanthin-ß 0 µg --
Lutein-zeaxanthin 323 µg --

Selection and storage

Chives are available year round. If you grow them as potherb, the leaves can be harvested after plants are 6 inches tall. To harvest, simply cut the leaves 2 inches above the ground.

In the markets, you may choose fresh as well as dried (dehydrated) leaves. Generally, fresh leaves tied in bunches, are put for sale along with other leafy-greens.

Buy uniform, firm, deep green fresh leaf-bunch. Choose young leaves for mild flavor. Larger ones tend to have sharp, strong onion-like flavor.

You may store fresh leaves in a plastic bag and store inside the refrigerator. Dried leaves may be placed in an air-seal container and stored in a cool, dark place.

Preparation and serving methods

Chives are one of the most sought after ingredients used for flavoring and garnishing recipes in many parts of the world, especially in the French and Mediterranean cuisines. They have subtle onion flavor, besides imparting bright green color to the recipes.

To prepare, wash the chives in a bowl of cold water. Dry by gently mopping with paper towel. Chop the leaves closely using paring knife in a way you desire. Add at the final moments to prevent loss of flavor (essential oils).

Here are some serving tips:

  • Fresh chopped leaves add great taste to tomato salad.

  • Closely chopped fresh leaves are added in sandwiches, soups, and cold sauce.

  • Garlic chives are popular in China, Taiwan, and Japan, where the fresh leaves used in dumplings, soups, stews, and stir-fries.
  • In Europe, chives are mainly used as garnishing, especially in baked, or mashed and cream cheese mixed potatoes. Vichyssoise, a classic cold soup, is served with freshly chopped chives.

  • The herb is also used in muffins, scones, quiche, pizza, omelets, biscuits etc.

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