Chives are part of the allium family and have been used as a garnish and a flavoring herb for centuries. They offer several nutritional benefits but may be especially appealing to people following a low-carb diet. While the carbohydrate content of chives is minimal, it’s essential to understand their food sources, health benefits, and uses in meals.
Chives contain trace amounts of carbohydrates. In 1 ounce (28 grams) of raw chives, there are 0.3 total carbohydrates and 0.2 grams of dietary fiber.
This small amount makes them appropriate for low-carb eating plans such as the ketogenic diet, which calls for a 20 to 30 percent daily intake of carbohydrates from sources such as fruits and vegetables like chives that also provide additional nutrients.
Nutrition Benefits & Uses
Though carb content is minimal, chives are rich in vitamin K, which helps support strong bones by promoting calcium absorption.
Just one tablespoon (6 grams) of chopped fresh chives contains 9 micrograms (mcg) or 11 percent of the Daily Value (DV) for adults over 19 years old – the DV increases with age through age 70 when it reaches 120 mcg per day.
Chives offer small amounts of other essential vitamins, including folate and vitamin C, and minerals like iron, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc. The extensive list makes them beneficial to overall health when eaten regularly and provides flavor boosts for salads or vegetables like potatoes or broccoli.
Nutritional Value of Chives
Chives are a popular herb used in many dishes, particularly in the cuisine of European and Eastern countries. They are low in calories and have many nutritional benefits. Additionally, they have a low glycemic index and high amounts of fiber, minerals, and vitamins.
Let’s explore the nutritional value of chives and find out how they can benefit our health.
Chives are a low-carbohydrate food, with approximately 0.9 grams per serving (1 tablespoon). Carbohydrates provide the primary energy source for your body, but some carbohydrates are classified as “simple” and others as “complex.”
- Simple carbohydrates include sugars and starches that break down quickly into energy.
- Complex carbohydrates, which include fiber and whole grains, break down more slowly and don’t raise blood sugar levels as high.
Chives only contain trace amounts of natural sugars and almost no starch, making them a top choice for those on low-carb diets.
Chives are an excellent source of vitamin K, B vitamins like folate, riboflavin, and thiamin, and essential minerals, including manganese and chromium.
In addition to these vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, chives are a good source of dietary protein. A serving of 28 grams (1 ounce) of chopped fresh chives contains 4.6 grams of protein. Chives contain dietary fiber, with 1 ounce containing 0.5 gm of dietary fiber.
The protein in chives is made up of all nine essential amino acids; these are the amino acids your body does not generate on its own and must be provided through diet sources such as meats and plant-based proteins like soybeans or chickpeas.
The high levels of vitamins A and C and beta carotene in chives make them potent antioxidants, helping cellular boost health while providing metabolism-friendly macronutrients like fiber in small bulbs.
Chives also contain negligible amounts of carbohydrates; 28 gms (1 oz) contain just 0.36 gms net carbs per serving, making it easier to manage carbohydrate intake for those on low-carb diets or with diabetes or pre-diabetes concerns.
Chives provide a small amount of fat, with less than 1/2 g per serving, making them an excellent choice for low-fat foods.
This fat is entirely healthy unsaturated fat, which helps reduce cholesterol levels and provides essential fatty acids for your brain and heart. The unsaturated fats in chives are primarily linoleic and oleic acids.
Vitamins and Minerals
Chives are a rich source of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals and can provide valuable dietary benefits. One hundred grams of chives contain 51.2% of the reference daily intake (RDI) for vitamin K and 37.3% of the RDI for vitamin C.
In addition to these vitamins, chives are high in minerals such as copper, iron, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus.
Chive leaves contain several flavonoids – antioxidants associated with reducing inflammation and providing other health benefits such as the reduced risk of certain diseases – particularly quercetin and kaempferol.
Chives also contain sulforaphane which has been found to have cancer-fighting properties.
Although they are low in calories, they have carbohydrates (3 g per 100 g), so people with diabetes may want to consider portion sizes when consuming them in higher amounts.
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Health Benefits of Chives
Chives are a type of herb native to Europe and Asia, but they are now found worldwide. They are easy to grow and are used in many dishes to add an onion-like flavor. They are also packed with nutrition and offer some impressive health benefits.
Let’s take a look at some of the health benefits of chives:
Chives have a high nutritional value and are an excellent source of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The long, thin leaves contain carotenoids and vitamins A, C, K, and B-complex. These antioxidant compounds are attributed to the many health benefits chives can provide.
Vitamin K has one of the highest concentrations in chives, and studies show that it is involved in maintaining bone mineral density and reducing inflammation throughout the body.
The carotenoids found in chives also have powerful germ-fighting properties. They have been known to help lower cholesterol levels and fight off bacteria, fungi, viruses, and even certain types of cancer.
Choline is another compound found in chives that aid in neurotransmitter function and liver health. Chives are low in carbohydrates yet full of dietary fiber that helps maintain healthy digestion and a fit physique.
Antibacterial and Antifungal Benefits
Chives offer some fantastic antibacterial and antifungal benefits. They are high in allicin and act as a natural antibiotic, helping to ward off and fight off infections.
Allicin is a compound found in garlic that helps to protect against bacteria and fungi, which makes it especially beneficial for the digestive system.
Research has also found that chives are effective against certain types of bacteria, like Salmonella, E. coli, and Staphylococcus aureus.
For those suffering from fungal infections of the skin and nails, such as athlete’s foot or nail fungus, chives can also be used in topical solutions to help relief.
Adding crushed-up chives to soaks, compresses, etc., can be very beneficial for helping to treat fungal infections on the skin.
In addition to their antibacterial and antifungal properties, chives contain potent antioxidants that can help prevent cellular damage caused by free radicals in the body. Antioxidants can help reduce inflammation throughout the body, improving overall health.
May Help Lower Blood Sugar
Chives are a member of the allium family, including garlic and onions. This vegetable is a good source of antioxidants and is low in calories. Chives contain essential nutrients, such as vitamins A and C, folate, potassium, iron, and manganese.
Additionally, chives contain about one gram of carbohydrates per tablespoon and have virtually no calories from fat.
Studies have shown that chives may have health-promoting benefits for people with type 2 diabetes. For example, research suggests that consuming a single dose of Allium species can significantly reduce blood sugar levels in individuals with diabetes.
In one study involving 15 people with diabetes taking insulin, participants took either one teaspoon or two teaspoons of fresh chives every day for 30 days. The results showed that blood sugar levels decreased in both the treatment groups provided the participants followed their regular insulin dosage regimen.
However, more studies are needed to confirm any potential benefits on long-term effects in humans with diabetes taking insulin therapy.
How to Use Chives
Chives are a great addition to many dishes thanks to their mild onion-like flavor. They add flavor to food and contain nutrients such as vitamins A and C, folate, and many other minerals.
Most importantly, they are low in carbs and high in dietary fiber, making them an excellent choice for those looking to watch their carbohydrate intake.
Let’s explore the many ways to incorporate chives into your meals:
Chives make a flavorful addition to salads, adding a mild onion flavor. They can be used both raw or cooked, depending on your preferences. To use chives in salads, you’ll need to chop them finely.
They are most commonly added as a garnish to the top of the salad, creating an attractive dish with vibrant colors and pleasant flavors. When using chives in salads, they should be lightly dressed with a vinaigrette or similar dressing so the delicate flavor won’t get lost in other flavorings.
Chives are an excellent addition to any low carbohydrate (low-carb) diet as they have zero carbohydrates per serving. As part of a ketogenic (keto) diet plan, chives should form part of your dietary intake by adding them to salads, soups, and other dishes that benefit from a mild oniony taste.
As a Garnish
Chives are an ideal garnish for a variety of dishes. The light, oniony flavor of chives adds an elegant and flavorful finishing touch to any dish.
Fresh chives can be snipped with scissors as a garnish over cooked dishes from salads and veggies to potatoes, soups, and roasts. If you don’t have fresh chives on hand (or it’s not the season), you may use dried or freeze-dried versions – though you’ll get the best flavor when fresh.
One of the most popular uses for chives is as a garnish for baked potatoes. Try topping with freshly snipped chives, freshly ground black pepper, a dollop of sour cream, and some crumbled bacon bits – your guests will be impressed! Chive flowers are also edible and make great colorful garnishes too.
They’re best eaten young since they tend to toughen up as they mature. For people with diabetes counting carbs, note that 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh or frozen chives contains 0 g of carbs.
In Soups and Stews
Chives are a flavorful, low-calorie, and low-carbohydrate addition to soups and stews. Chives are an allium type that includes other popular herbs like garlic, onions, and leeks. They have a mild onion flavor that adds subtle depth to soups and stews without overpowering other ingredients.
Incorporating chopped fresh chives into the cooked portion of your soup will provide the most flavor and texture; you can also garnish individual servings with additional chive pieces if desired.
To do so, snip freshly washed chives with kitchen scissors before serving. Adding uncooked chives at the end of the cooking process will bring out their flavor without diminishing the final product’s texture.
In conclusion, chives are a healthy way to flavor your dishes without adding carbs. They have just minor carbohydrates but plenty of essential vitamins and minerals. Chives can be easily added to salads, sauces, soups, and other dishes for extra flavor and nutrition.
When shopping for chives in the grocery store, it’s best to buy fresh specimens as they contain the most nutrients and last longer than their dried counterparts.