Oh Swiss chard, it’s been much too long since I tasted your leafy greens! You were overshadowed for a moment by Kale. You planted yourself in her shadow while she flirted with the other healthy superstar, Quinoa. Good thing they did not resort to the popular trend of name-merging and call themselves Kainoa or Quinale!
Although they did not engage in name-merging, they acquiesced to every food photographer’s tasty whim. Together, they made headlines and appeared on the cover of nearly every health food magazine. For awhile, they dominated our thoughts about what foods were the “healthiest.”
But Swiss chard, you did not balk. No, you knew who and what you were. You knew you were one of the most nutritious vegetables in the world, second only to your relative, spinach. You had nothing to fear, but fear itself…
Seriously, though, Swiss chard is one of the best things you can put in your mouth. I all but forgot about it as a vegetable option because of all the ravings and goings on about Kale and its kindred spirit, Quinoa. Then, I stumbled upon an article discussing the healthiest vegetables in the world. Although Swiss chard has not been as extensively studied as spinach, the health benefits that are known, put it at the top of the vegetable kingdom.
What is known about Swiss chard is that it is a popular Mediterranean vegetable belonging to the chenopod family. Chenopods, like beets, spinach, chard and quinoa, provide a special health benefit to our nervous system, particularly as it pertains to our eyes. Chard is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, but it’s most researched benefit is in blood sugar regulation.*
In research involving animals, extracts from the chard plant have been found to help pancreatic beta cells regenerate. These cells are responsible for the production of insulin, which regulates our blood sugar levels. Extracts of this plant have also been shown to protect the liver from damage in animals induced with diabetes.*
Swiss chard is not only super rich in vitamins A (beta carotene), C, E and K but in minerals like calcium, zinc and magnesium, which makes it an excellent source to maintain bone health. It’s also a green champion source of potassium, iron, b-complex vitamins and fiber.
With all these known benefits, it’s not hard to understand why this plant stands out among the rest.
Interesting facts about the Chard
- The Swiss chard plant is not actually from Switzerland. It comes from an area in Sicily.
- Swiss chard is a hardy plant and can withstand frosty, cold weather.
- Swiss chard’s stems come in a variety of colors from celery-green to red to yellow and orange.
- Swiss chard is also known as the Silver beet or Strawberry spinach.
- If you must eat the stems, the Swiss chard varieties with the green stems are better tasting than the multicolored variety.
A Word of Caution…
Swiss chard is high in oxalic acid and not recommended for individuals suffering from kidney and gallbladder issues. Oxalic acid causes the body to form crystals that can form stones and blockage in the kidneys.
Preparing Swiss Chard
Swiss chard is often sautéed, can be steamed, however, it is best boiled, uncovered, for about 2 to 3 minutes in boiling water, (stems included) to help remove some of the acid. The water should then be discarded. Once boiled, it can be blanched and then lightly sautéed or used to make a warm salad.
Sometimes Swiss chard can be bitter and too earthy in taste, that is why I recommend boiling it first to make it more palatable. If you do decide to boil the chard, be careful not to over do it.
Swiss Chard Recipe
One or two bunches of Swiss Chard
1-2 gloves of garlic
Purple (red) onion
Salt, Pepper or Red pepper flakes, if you prefer
After washing in cold water to remove debris, sand and grit from the leaves and stems, I will boil the leaves (I don’t care for the stems). Next, I will “shock” the chard in ice-cold water, dry and then mix in with the already lightly sautéed olive oil, garlic and purple onion, until the leaves are heated again. Once the chard has been reheated, I’ll season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
There are a lot of neat recipes to try, so I encourage you to experiment with some and figure out what suits your taste buds!
By the way, do you know name of the movie my headline was referencing? If so, leave it in the comment section.
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