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Healthy Eating: Swiss Chard

Updated on June 23, 2015
Ronna Pennington profile image

Ronna Pennington is a newspaper editor, journalist and freelance ghostwriter and adjunct instructor.

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Swiss Chard is insanely good for you. This leafy green vegetable is high in vitamins K, A, and C and also offers good amounts of magnesium, manganese, potassium and iron. In addition it is low in calories. In other words, Swiss Chard packs a punch!


Why it's Good for You

Several animal studies show Swiss Chard to be helpful in regulating blood sugar, meaning it could be a helpful nutrient to humans with diabetes. More animal studies show that chard helps rebuild pancreatic cells. Since human studies of chard have not been conducted, researchers only draw from the conclusions made from the animal studies. It is suggested that humans eating chard would have better health benefits than the lab animals who ate only small amounts of it.

Swiss Chard is high in Vitamin C. One cup provides more than 33 percent of your daily requirement. The Vitamin E in Swiss Chard offers anti-inflammatory properties. Vitamin E may also lower your chances of getting coronary artery disease. Chard is rich in Vitamin B-6 and potassium, too. These help reduce the chance of heart disease and high blood pressure. The fiber in chard also helps lower the risk of heart disease. The Vitamin K and calcium also found in chard helps increase bone density and protect from osteoporosis.


We Got the Beet

We don't always think of beets as necessarily health, but Swiss Chard belongs to the beet family. Unlike beets, though, we eat chard's leaves. The root is not edible. The leaves are always green, but the stalks on which they grow can be in very colorful pinks, purples, yellows, and a variety of other colors. Since chard is a type of beet, no one knows the true origin of Swiss Chard. The one thing we do know for certain: Swiss Chard did not originate in Switzerland.

Why the name then? It seems that in the 1800s, seed packagers developed the name to distinguish the chard variety from the French varieties of spinach. They chose to call the chard Swiss to based on the large amounts of cultivate chard in Switzerland. Swiss Chard is actually very popular in the Mediterranean area and has been used in foods there for many centuries. You may also hear it referred to as Sicilian beet.

That's another reason the roots of Swiss Chard are so difficult to trace. Although widely available, many cultures have different names for it. In addition to Sicilian beet, you may hear Swiss Chard called leaf beet, Roman kale, Chilean beet, or a bevy of other names.


How to Buy Swiss Chard

There are a number of ways you can incorporate Swiss Chard into your daily diet. You can chop the young, tender leaves and toss them in with salad. You can also saute the greens with onion and garlic for a triple-healthy side dish. When buying Swiss Chard, choose greens that are crisp and vibrant. They should be a healthy green color without browning or small holes. Wash Swiss Chard with your favorite vegetable cleaner and store it with moist paper towels in a plastic bag. Prick a few holes in the bag for air to circulate and to avoid molding. This will last in your refrigerator for up to three days.

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    • Sugahware profile image

      Robyn D Bera 3 years ago from California

      LOVE swiss chard! So many people are afraid of it because it can lean toward the bitter side. It is generally the stalks and spine that are the most bitter. Super easy to grow in a home garden! Thanks for sharing. Voted up!

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