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Chives is a bulbous perennial herb in the amaryllis family and is the smallest member of the onion genus.


A clump of Chives is actually many plants growing close together from several small bulbs. Dark green leaves are thin, hollow blades growing from 6 to 10 inches high. These round blades surround flowering stems which produce dense, purple umbels containing seed capsules. Chives prefer moist soils and often grow along stream banks. To harvest, snip the leaves leaving about 2 inches for future growth.


In terms of culinary appeal, the flavor of chives is considerably milder than onion or garlic. The herb is used fresh or dried (as well as the flowers) to flavor vinegars, often in combination with other herbs. Dried chives are excellent additions to soups and salads, salad dressing, as well as dips, soft cheeses and herbal butters. As an added bonus, chives is a good source of vitamin C.

Health Benefits of Chives:

Chives help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Spang said allicin releases nitric oxide, reducing stiffness in the blood vessels and decreasing blood pressure. Chives also contain quercetin, which may reduce the risk of plaque buildup in arteries. Studies show that people who follow a diet high in flavonoids such as quercetin have lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure levels.

Chives are a rich source of vitamin K, according to Spang. The vitamin is important for long-term bone health. Vitamin K assists the regulation of cells that help to prevent bone demineralization. It also helps with the production of a bone protein called osteocalcin, which is vital for maintaining bone mineral density.

Quercetin and vitamin K are two of several antioxidants found in chives. Studies show quercetin and other flavonoids have properties that help protect against cancers in the breast, colon, prostate, ovaries, endometrium and lungs. Chives also contain carotenes, zeaxanthin and lutein, which help protect against lung and oral cancers.

Chives contain a host of other nutrients important for a healthy diet. This includes potassium, iron and calcium, vitamins A and C, folate, niacin, riboflavin and thiamin. As a rich source of vitamin C, chives may alleviate a stuffy nose and colds, and folk remedies recommend it for such. In addition, traditional folk remedies use chives to ease an upset stomach and flatulence and stimulate digestion and treat anemia. Chives can be added to numerous dishes for added flavor. 

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