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Nutritious & Delicious Chives

Chives are perennial plants that generate from small underground bulbs in spring. While chives are available in most supermarkets, they grow easily in an herb garden, a sunny corner of a flowerbed, or on a windowsill. Chives are members of the Allium family, which also includes onions, garlic, and leeks.

Chives are very low in calories and contain many flavonoid anti-oxidants, plant fiber, minerals, and vitamins that have proven health benefits. Chives reduce cholesterol production and also have anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties.

They contain allicin which decreases blood vessel stiffness by releasing nitric oxide (NO); thereby bringing a reduction in total blood pressure. Allicin also helps decrease overall risk of coronary artery disease (CAD), peripheral vascular disease (PVD), and stroke.

Chives are higher in vitamin A than any other Allium member vegetables. In addition, their green leaves have flavonoid phenolic anti-oxidants such as carotenes, zeaxanthin, and lutein. Together, they help protect the body from lung and oral cavity cancers.

Chives are one of the richest sources of vitamin K, which has a potential role in bone health by promoting osteotrophic (bone formation and strengthening) activity. Adequate vitamin K levels in the diet helps limit neuronal damage in the brain and has an established role in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.

Fresh chives are a rich source of folate. 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 newborn babies.

The leaves of chives are packed with some essential minerals such as copper, iron, manganese, zinc, and calcium. The leafy greens contain several important vitamins such as pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin.

In the kitchen, chives add flavor to food without adding unwanted calories, fat or sodium.

Add chives to cooked dishes only during the last 1 to 2 minutes of cooking time, to avoid diluting the flavor. Chives are especially good in cheese and egg dishes, and added to vegetables such as asparagus, peas, corn, tomatoes and potatoes. Make a dip by stirring chopped chives into low-fat sour cream or Greek yogurt and serve with vegetables, chips or crackers.

This article was submitted by Jacqueline Spang, RD, CDN, Clinical Dietitian at NYP/Westchester Division


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