Name one leafy vegetable that is very nutritious and at the same time quite beneficial to the eye? We are talking about Swiss chard – a dark, green leafy vegetable with different colored stalks and veins. This nutrient-rich leafy veggie has many antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help treat several health ailments. Swiss chard may improve bone health, help manage diabetes, reduce blood pressure, reduce cancer risk, and support heart health. In this article, we explore the health benefits of Swiss chard, its nutrition profile, how to include it in your diet, and its possible side effects. Read on.
In This Article
What Is Swiss Chard?
Swiss chard is scientifically classified as Beta vulgaris subsp. Cicla and is native to the Mediterranean. It belongs to the Chenopodiaceae family and is also commonly known as silverbeet, perpetual spinach, beet spinach, seakale beet, leaf beet, or crab beet. Swiss chard can be eaten raw in salads or cooked. It is also available as bright yellow, rhubarb red, ford hook giant, red chard, and ruby.
Its rich nutrient profile and its high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties help treat many health ailments. Keep reading to know the health benefits of Swiss chard.
9 Health Benefits Of Swiss Chard
1. May Improve Bone Health
Swiss chard is rich in vitamin K and calcium that are essential for maintaining bone health. As per one study, nearly 99% of the body’s calcium is found in bones. Regular calcium intake is needed for bone development. Vitamin K improves bone mineral density and reduces fracture rates. According to studies, an increased intake of vitamin K, up to 90 micrograms per day for females and 120 micrograms per day for males, can increase bone health by 50%. K vitamins (vitamin K1 and K2) play a key role in proper bone function. Also, a low intake of vitamin K is linked with an increased risk of osteoporosis.
2. May Help Manage Diabetes
Swiss chard has been used as a folk remedy for lowering blood glucose levels. A study conducted by Istanbul University on diabetic rats found that the extract of chard has a protective effect on the liver. The high fiber content of Swiss chard is also responsible for lowering blood sugar levels. A high intake of green leafy vegetables can also reduce the risk of diabetes.
3. May Reduce Blood Pressure
Swiss chard is said to possess anti-hypertensive properties and may help reduce blood pressure. In general, green leafy vegetables are high in dietary nitrates and may have vascular effects (lowering blood pressure and inhibiting blood clot formation). As per one study conducted by the University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Italy, Swiss chard extract has antioxidants and flavonoids that help prevent hypertension. However, more studies are warranted to further understand this benefit of Swiss chard.
4. May Help Reduce Cancer Risk
The extracts of Swiss chard have antioxidant and anti-proliferative properties that act against colon cancer. As per one study, Swiss chard extracts contain apigenin flavonoids, such as vitexin, that show the anti-proliferative effect on cancer cells. Intake of foods rich in vitamins A, E, and C, and minerals like zinc, calcium, and selenium may help reduce cancer risk. Swiss chard also contains compounds that promote anti-mitotic activity (preventing cell division) on breast cancer cells.
5. May Support Heart Health
As per one rat study, Swiss chard leaves contain flavonoids and exhibit hypo-lipidemic activity to regulate cholesterol levels. Consumption of green leafy vegetables is also known to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease. Leafy greens are also rich in potassium. Reduced potassium intake is linked to heart failure and ischemic heart disease. However, more research studies are warranted to understand the cardio-protective effects of Swiss chard in humans.
6. May Help Prevent Cognitive Decline
Swiss chard contains betalains, a class of antioxidants known to protect against certain oxidative stress-related disorders. Oxidative stress is known to affect cognitive health. As per one study, the folate, nitrite, and alpha-tocopherol in leafy greens can slow down cognitive decline.
7. May Promote Vision Health
Swiss chard is rich in carotenoids that help reduce the risk of eye disease. In general, leafy vegetables contain vitamins A, C, and beta-carotene that play a key role in the prevention of several eye problems. The lutein and zeaxanthin in leafy greens help reduce the risk of advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, and glaucoma. A study conducted by McMaster University, Hamilton, found that consumption of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables offers protection against glaucoma. Intake of antioxidant supplements and lutein can retard AMD.
8. May Improve Digestion
Did you know that foods high in dietary fiber promote bowel movements? Studies also suggest that fiber may help lower body weight. The anti-inflammatory properties of Swiss chard may help reduce inflammation in the digestive tract and regulate bowel movements. However, more studies are needed to further understand this benefit of Swiss chard in humans.
9. May Promote Hair Health
Swiss chard contains biotin, which is directly linked to hair health. Biotin stimulates hair follicles and helps in hair growth. It also may improve hair texture and boost luster. However, more research is warranted in this regard.
These are the impressive health benefits of Swiss chard. Check out the its nutritional information below.
Swiss Chard Nutrition Facts
According to the U.S. Department Of Agriculture, one cup (175 g) of cooked Swiss chard contains:
- Energy: 35 kcal
- Protein: 3.29 g
- Fat: 0.14 g
- Carbohydrate: 7.23 g
- Fiber: 3.68 g
- Calcium: 102 mg
- Iron: 3.96 mg
- Magnesium: 150 mg
- Potassium: 961 mg
- Sodium: 313 mg
- Vitamin C: 31.5 mg
- Vitamin A: 536 mcg
- Vitamin E: 3.31 mg
Swiss chard also contains beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and choline.
wiss chard is often confused with red chard. Are the two same? Let us find out below.
Swiss Chard Vs. Red Chard
Red chard is a new variety of chard that is less bitter than Swiss chard. However, both variants have a similar nutritional profile.
What is the difference between Swiss chard and collard greens? Scroll down to know.
Swiss Chard Vs. Collard Greens
Collard greens are slightly richer in protein and carbohydrates than Swiss chard. Also, Swiss chard is low in calories and can cook more quickly than collard greens. The stalks of collard greens, unlike that of Swiss chard, are thick and not commonly consumed.
Swiss chard is a low-calorie leafy vegetable that is a good addition to your diet. But how do you add it to your diet?
How To Add Swiss Chard To Your Diet?
Here are some tips to incorporate more Swiss chard (leaves and stems) into your daily diet:
- Add chopped fresh Swiss chard to salads, soups, wraps, stews, and sandwiches.
- Throw a handful of Swiss chard leaves and stems into fresh juice or smoothie before you blend.
- Toss a few leaves of Swiss chard into your stir fry.
- Sauté Swiss chard leaves in extra-virgin olive oil and top with toasted sesame seeds.
- Add a handful of fresh Swiss chard leaves to an omelet or scrambled eggs.
- Toss wilted Swiss chard into pasta dishes.
- Use it in hearty soups and stews.
- Pickle the stems for a crunchy snack.
You can also prepare some easy recipes with Swiss chard. Check them out in the following section.
Healthy Swiss Chard Recipes To Try
1. Swiss Chard And Navy Bean Soup
What Do You Need
- Chopped Swiss chard – 3 cups
- Water – 2 cups
- Garlic – 1 head
- Diced onion, celery, and carrot – 1 cup each
- Black pepper – 1 teaspoon
- Canned navy beans – 2 cups
- Sodium-reduced chicken stock – 2 cups
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese – 2 tablespoons
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Cut the top of the garlic head and bake it for 40 minutes in the oven.
- Heat oil over medium heat in a large pot, and cook the celery, carrots, and onion for about 10 minutes.
- Add the beans, remaining stock, and water.
- Let it cook for 10 minutes.
- Squeeze the garlic pulp into the soup and add the Swiss chard, black pepper, and parmesan cheese.
- Puree with an immersion blender or in small batches with a blender and serve.
2. Swiss Chard Tahini Dip
What Do You Need
- Swiss chard – 2 bunches
- Tahini – ½ cup
- Extra-virgin olive oil – 2/3 cup
- Fresh lemon juice – 1/3 cup
- Garlic cloves – 5
- Kosher salt – as needed
- Remove the ribs and stems from Swiss chard leaves and finely chop them.
- Tear leaves into small pieces. Set both aside separately.
- Heat 1/3 cup oil in a large pot over medium-low flame.
- Cook reserved ribs and stems, stirring often and adding a splash of water if they start to brown, until tender, for about 5–7 minutes.
- Add garlic and cook for about a minute.
- Add reserved chard leaves, letting them wilt before adding more, and cook for about 10–12 minutes.
- Let it cool and squeeze excess liquid from the mixture into a measuring glass.
- To the Swiss chard mixture, add tahini, lemon juice, and 1/3 cup of oil.
- Season with salt and process, adding more cooking liquid if needed until the dip is creamy and only speckles of chard remain.
- Transfer the dip to a serving bowl and drizzle with more oil.
3. Sausage, Green, And Beans Pasta
What Do You Need
- Swiss chard leaves – 8 cups
- Olive oil – 1/3 cup
- Spicy Italian sausage – 8 ounces
- Pasta – 12 ounces
- Finely grated parmesan – ¾ cup
- Unsalted butter – 2 tablespoons
- Dry white wine – ¼ cup
- Freshly grounded black pepper – as needed
- Chickpeas – 15.5 ounces
- Heat oil in a heavy pot over medium-high heat.
- Fry rosemary, turning, until crisp, for about 2 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
- Add sausage to same pot and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon and stirring occasionally, until browned and cooked through for about 8–10 minutes. Transfer this mixture to a plate.
- Add chickpeas to the pot and cook, tossing occasionally and mashing some chickpeas with a spoon, until browned in spots, for about 5 minutes.
- Transfer about half of the chickpeas to a plate with sausage. Add wine to pot, bring to a boil, and cook until liquid has almost completely evaporated, for about 2 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally for about 3 minutes.
- Transfer the pasta to the pot with chickpeas and add escarole and 1 cup of pasta cooking liquid.
- Cook, tossing often until the escarole is wilted and the sauce is thickened, for about 4 minutes.
- Add another 1/4 cup pasta cooking liquid, then gradually add 1/2 cup cheese, tossing until melted.
- Season with pepper and more salt if needed. Add butter and toss to combine, then mix in the reserved sausage and chickpeas.
You should remember some important points before buying and storing Swiss chard. We have discussed them below.
How To Select And Store Swiss Chard?
Always select Swiss chard whose leaves are firm and green with sturdy stalks. Avoid buying Swiss chard with yellow leaves or with holes or lumpy stalks. Storing Swiss chard is easy. Remove the bottom of the stalks and keep them in a refrigerator. They will look fresh for up to five days. You can also freeze Swiss chard for up to six months.
Swiss chard is safe to consume. But does it cause any side effects?
Possible Health Risks Of Swiss Chard
Swiss chard is generally considered safe for many people. But individuals using blood thinning medications should talk with their doctor before consuming Swiss chard. The leafy veggie contains vitamin K that plays a key role in blood clotting and can interfere with blood-thinning medications.
Swiss chard is a nutrient-dense leafy green vegetable. It contains important vitamins and minerals that help treat many health problems. From improving bone health to promoting healthy hair, this green veggie supports your overall health in many ways. However, people who are using blood-thinning medications should consult their doctor before consuming Swiss chard.
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