Swiss chard is a leafy green vegetable often used in Mediterranean cooking but is gaining popularity in the United States in salads, quiche, stir fry and numerous other dishes. Swiss chard is considered to be one of the healthiest vegetables available, and is a valuable addition to a healthy diet. Swiss chard is also known by its many common names such as chard, silverbeet, perpetual spinach, spinach beet, crab beet, bright lights, seakale beet and mangold. Swiss chard belongs to the beet family and unlike most beets is harvested for the leaves and stalks rather than the roots. Swiss chards feature green to dark-green leaves with stalks varying in color depending on variety from green, red, white, orange, yellow, purple and pink.
Nutritional Content of Swiss Chard
Swiss chards are nutritional powerhouses that are an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, iron, protein and dietary fiber. It is low in calories and fats. All parts of the plant contain oxalic acid.
Health Benefits of Swiss Chard
1. Bone health: Swiss chard is an excellent source of calcium, magnesium and vitamin K all of which add to the strengthening of bones and teeth.
2. Fights cancer: Swiss chard is a super-food with anti-cancer properties owing to the abundance of fiber, phytonutrients and various antioxidants present in it.
3. Circulatory system health: Swiss chard is an excellent source of iron which is vital for maintaining a healthy circulatory system. Vitamin K is key for healthy blood clotting and preventing excessive bruising and bleeding and is found in Swiss chards in significant amounts.
4. Eye health: Swiss chards contain high amounts of lutein, an antioxidant essential for eye health and may possibly delay or prevent the onset of age-related macular degeneration.
5. Blood sugar regulation: Swiss chards contain fiber and syringic acid, both of which are involved in regulating blood sugar levels by altering the rate at which sugar is absorbed into the blood from the intestine.
6. Brain health: In addition to strengthening bones, the vitamin K present in Swiss chard is crucial for the proper functioning of the brain and nervous system as it is essential for the formation of the protective layer around the nerves, called the myelin sheath.
7. Antioxidant properties: Swiss chards are one of the most antioxidant rich foods on the planet. It contains beta-carotene, vitamin E, vitamin C, zinc, lutein, zea-xanthin, quercitin, kaempferol and many other disease fighting compounds.
8. Hair health: Swiss chard is rich in biotin, a vitamin that promotes hair growth and strength. The vitamins A and C also assist the hair follicles in the production of sebum, which keeps hair and skin supple.