Swiss chard is a super healthy source of antioxidants like vitamin C and flavonoids, and it has shown promising results in scientific researches too. Not all vegetables can match up to the phytonutrient power and the fexibility of Swiss chard in the kitchen. It can be added raw to your salad for a slightly crunchy taste or simply sauté or cook it.
Read on to know more!
Swiss Chard or Chard is a green leafy vegetable that is usually used in Mediterranean cooking. It is a biennial plant with leaf blades of green and red colour and the leaf stalk of red, green or white colour. It has good amounts of magnesium, manganese, iron, potassium, copper, calcium, phosphorus and zinc. The plant is very good at extracting minerals from the soil and transporting them up to its leaves. Thus, the quality of soil in which it is grown is of utmost importance and due to this, organically grown chard seems to be better than traditionally grown one.
The word “Swiss” in Swiss chard is somewhat deceptive since this plant is not native to Switzerland. Rather, it is believed to be indigenous to countries contiguous just to the Mediterranean, including countries on the north coast of Africa; the southern regions of France, Italy, and Greece; Croatia; and the Middle Eastern countries of Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey.
The vegetable is known by many other names including spinach beet, silver beet, crab beet, perpetual spinach, seakale beets, and bright lights. It does not form a root bulb in the same way as beets do but its leaves can look quite similar to it. Swiss chard not only belongs to the same family of beets (called the Chenopod/Amaranth family) but also to the same genus and species of the plant (Beta vulgaris). Plant varieties are what separate the two but they are undoubtedly extraordinarily similar to each other in many characteristics.
As Swiss Chard is a biennial plant, it takes two years to complete its natural life cycle. In the first year, it produces normal leaves, roots, and stalks. Then it becomes dormant through the winter. Post winters, it continues to grow when it not only produces more stalks and leaves but also goes on to flower and make seeds. Researches on the plant state that the younger leaves produced during both the years tend to be more nutrient-rich.
Selection: Swiss chard is available throughout the year, but best one is from July to early November. Select those leaves that are fresh-looking and bright green, with no presence of brown discolouration and the stalks should be firm. In contrast to many other vegetables, larger swiss chard leaves are not necessarily tougher than smaller ones.
Storage: The leaves should ideally be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, for up to a maximum of four days.
Cleaning: It is recommended to rinse Swiss chard under cold running water but not to soak it as this will result in the loss of water-soluble nutrients to the water. Needless to say, remove any part of the leaves that may be wilted, blemished, brown or have holes.
|Calories from Fat||2|
|Total Fat||0 g||0%|
|Saturated Fat||0 g||0%|
|Total Carbohydrates||4 g||6%|
|Dietary Fiber||2 g||6%|
|Vitamin A122%||Vitamin C||50%|
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie
Lowering the blood pressure
Swiss chard contains calcium, potassium and magnesium in good amounts. People whose diets have low contents of these minerals are more likely to be susceptible to high blood pressure. These minerals are believed to reduce blood pressure by dilating arteries by releasing sodium out of the body.
According to a 2013 study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, food products like Swiss Chard, with high dietary nitrates, provide multiple vascular benefits such as reducing blood pressure, preserving or improving endothelial dysfunction and inhibiting platelet aggregation.
The presence of Biotin, an organic compound, in Swiss chard has been directly linked to maintenance of healthy hair, improvement of hair texture and the stimulation of follicles.
Swiss chard, like other green leafy vegetables, has chlorophyll, which is effective in blocking the cancer-inducing heterocyclic amines created while grilling food at a high temperature.
Control of diabetes
An antioxidant present in Swiss chard, known as alpha-lipoic acid has been linked to lowering of glucose levels in the body, increase of sensitivity to insulin and avoidance of oxidative stress-induced changes in people suffering from diabetes.
Since Swiss chard contains both vitamin K and potassium, it is good for the health of the brain because it boosts cognitive development.
Ensuring bone health
All green leafy vegetables including Swiss Chard, Spinach and Arugula contain vitamin K and calcium which are responsible for improving bone health.
Vitamin K modifies bone matrix proteins, reduces urinary excretion of calcium and improves absorption of calcium.
Improving athletic performance
Dietary nitrates contained in Swiss chard have been shown to improve muscle oxygenation in time of exercise.
Swiss chard is a source of good amounts of beta-carotene, which has been shown to maintain eye health and by reducing instances of night blindness, glaucoma, and other vision-related problems.
Older leaves of Swiss chards have higher oxalate content than the younger ones and this can be harmful for some people.
You can incorporate Swiss Chard in your food by way of the following recipes