Most people think chives are merely a garnish for soups, stews or salads, but this savory herb warrants consideration as both a dietary and medicinal staple. That’s because chives have been found to be effective against serious bacterial infection and even in the prevention and treatment of cancer.
Chives have been in use for over five thousand years. Native to Asia, chives were originally used by the Chinese and now are a part of many cuisines throughout Asia, Europe and North America. A member of the allium family, chives are relatives of both garlic and onions.
Over a century ago chives were even used in fortune-telling. A person would take a bunch of chive stalks, toss them onto a bare wooden table, and the fortune teller would interpret the pattern to predict the client’s fortune. While I can’t speak to the accuracy of predicting the future with the help of chives, I can attest that this mild and flavorful herb is a great addition to almost any savory meals and certainly offers some serious health benefits. Here are some health reasons you’ll want to consider eating it more often:
Antibacterial Action: In a study published in the medical journal Molecules, French scientists found that chives showed antibacterial action against five different bacteria tested, including: Staphylococcus, Listeria, Salmonella, Campylobacter and E. coli. They also found that chives were most effective against these bacteria when used in their natural, raw state and that they lost some of their effectiveness when heated. Considering the state of antibiotic resistant bacteria, enjoying chives on a regular basis may confer some protection.
Cancer Prevention: Exciting research published in the medical journal Cancer Prevention Research found that chives have potent cancer-prevention properties, particularly against gastrointestinal cancers. The researchers at the National Cancer Institute and the U.S. Department of Agriculture believe that the sulfur compounds naturally present in chives are likely responsible for the herb’s impressive anticancer effects.
Sore Throat Remedy: Romanian scientists assessed the traditional Romanian use of chives to relieve sore throats. Their findings, published in the Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology indicate that an alcohol extract of chives is an effective sore throat remedy, largely because of the herb’s potent anti-inflammatory properties.
Ways to Use Chives
The fresh or dried leaves, which resemble smaller stalks of green onions, are a delicious addition to potato or fish dishes. They also kick up the flavor when snipped and added to your favorite traditional or vegan cream cheese or mild soft cheese. Fresh chives are an excellent addition to gravies and sauces. Fresh chive flowers are edible and are delicious atop a mixed green salad or soup.