Swiss chard is an earthy tasting leafy vegetable which is known for being a nutrition powerhouse. It is a part of the goosefoot family, which is called as such because its leaves resemble geese feet. It is closely related to other goosefoot vegetables like spinach and beets and has the same pungent and bitter taste.
This vegetable was first identified by a Swiss botanist (hence its name) and is very popular in countries around the Mediterranean. It is also known by various monikers like silver beet, strawberry spinach and Roman kale and is one of the several green, leafy produce that is collectively referred to as “greens.” This vegetable has a thick, crunchy stalk that comes in the colors white, yellow, orange, green and violet, which are attached t fan like green leaves which are smooth or curly.
Swiss chard is very popular along the Mediterranean, and it is so for one reason: it is one of the most nutritious vegetables around. In fact, it joins kale and spinach as one of the most nutrient rich veggies available that you can eat.
This vegetable is also very nutrient dense and has a very low glycemic index. One cup chopped and diced chard is only 35 calories, and provides you with the following vitamins and minerals and their corresponding percentages, when looking at your daily requirements:
- Vitamin K – 636%
- Vitamin A – 59.5%
- Vitamin C – 42%
- Magnesium – 37.6%
- Copper – 32.2%
Aside from these nutrients, Swiss chard also contains betalain pigments, which are unique among chard and beets. Betalains are responsible for the yellow and reddish pigments on the stalks and have been shown to provide anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and detoxifying properties. Chard is also rich in phytonutrients including 13 different polyphenols like the cardio-stengthening kaempferol. It also contains syringic acid, a powerful antioxidant known for its blood-sugar regulating effects.
Health Benefits Of Swiss Chard
Here are some of the best benefits of swiss chard:
- Antioxidant – Swiss chard is rich in antioxidants, most of which are responsible for its vivid and rich colors.
- Helpful for diabetics – It is known to regular blood sugar because of its fiber and syringic acid content. This is very helpful for diabetics.
- Good for the bones – Swiss chard is a great source of calcium, which is known to strengthen teeth and bones. Aside from calcium, it also contains magnesium and vitamin K which are also important for strong bones.
- Anti-cancer – This vegetable is a very healthy super food which also has cancer preventive properties due to its phytochemical, chlorophyll, fiber and antioxidant content. It is also very beneficial for digestion and can help prevent colon cancer.
- Good for the blood – The iron content in swiss chard is also substantial, and this mineral is important for maintaining the health of your circulatory system. Iron also helps prevent anemia, while vitamin K promotes healthy clotting and prevents excessive bleeding and bruising.
- Improves hair – The biotin content in swiss chard is also a great vitamin for your hair.
- Promotes eye health – One cup of this vegetable gives you more than 9000 mcg of lutein, which is a great antioxidant for eye health. Research shows that the consumption of 6,000 to 10,000 mcg of lutein daily helps maintain eye health and prevent or delays age-related eye problems.
Eating and Preparing Swiss Chard
Swiss chard is very high in oxalic acid, so it is recommended that you boil them to free up the acids and bring out the sweeter taste. After boiling, discard the water used for boiling as this has plenty of acidic content. When boiling the chard, leave the pot uncovered to let the acids rise up with the rising steam.
They make great additions to pasta, frittatas, omelets and lasagnas. You can also add lightly blanched chards in your fresh salads.
Some Issues With Swiss Chard
Swiss chard contains measurable amounts of oxalates, which can become too concentrated and can crystallize in your body, leading to a host of problems. Because of this, individuals with existing gallbladder and kidney problems may want to be careful with this vegetable. It is also recommended to boil the leaves prior to preparation to reduce oxalic acid content.
Choosing Swiss Chard
When choosing chard, pick those that are chilled when displayed, since this keeps the leaves sweeter and crunchier. Look for leaves that are vividly green and avoid those that already browning and yellowing or those that have holes in them.
Do not wash them when you store them. Only wash the vegetables prior to preparing to avoid spoilage. When storing, place them in a perforated plastic bag and refrigerate. It will stay fresh and crisp for five days.