What is a Swiss Chard?
Beta vulgaris or Swiss chard is a tall, green, leafy vegetable which is very rich in nutritional content. It belongs to the family of spinach and beets and has similar flavor of being pungent and of bitterness and slight saltiness. The peak season for Swiss chard is June to August, but it is available throughout the year.
Swiss chard has a crunchy and thick stalk and measures nearly two feet in length. They come in different colors such as red, white or yellow. It also has green, fan-like wide leaves. The leaves may be either curly or smooth as per the variety of Swiss chard.
Unlike the name, Swiss chard was not native to Switzerland. Instead it has origins further down south in the Mediterranean. Aristotle, the Greek philosopher has written about the vegetable in the 4th century BC. The Romans as well as the Greeks knew about the medicinal qualities of Swiss chard and hence they held it in high regard.
The name is derived from another plant known as cardoon, which is a celery-like vegetable that has stalks similar in appearance to the Swiss chard. Both the vegetables were called ‘carde’ by the French as they could not distinguish between the two vegetables.
Health benefits of Swiss chard
The health benefits of Swiss chard are not as well known as those of similar vegetables like spinach and beet, due to limited research on the vegetable. However, all are aware of the various nutrients in Swiss chard that have anti-inflammatory properties or anti-oxidant properties or both. Additionally, there are several other health benefits of Swiss chard that are specifically cater to particular body systems.
- Swiss chard is rich in various nutrients such as vitamins E and C and minerals like zinc and manganese. These nutrients provide anti-Inflammatory and antioxidant benefits and can thus help to reduce the risk to developing type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis and various types of arthritis.
- Control of blood sugar levels: Several studies have indicated that Swiss chard plays an important role in the regulation of blood sugar levels. Also, its inclusion in diabetic diets can provide several health benefits.
- Swiss chard is rich in proteins and fibers which are responsible for regulating the speed of digestion, thereby facilitating the passage of food through the digestive tract at the right pace. When this happens, it is inevitable that the blood sugar levels will become steadier.
- Animal studies have proven that Swiss chard inhibits the activities of an enzyme that is responsible for carbohydrates breakdown. Such restriction of carbohydrates breakdown can stabilize the blood sugar levels.
- Animal studies have also proven that Swiss chard intake protects the liver from damage. Liver is essential in diabetes control and hence one can conclude that the vegetable is effective in blood sugar regulation.
- Animal studies indicate that Swiss chard plays a part in the regeneration of pancreatic cells which are responsible for the manufacture of insulin. Optimal regulation of insulin thus becomes possible which in turn steadies the blood sugar levels.
- Swiss chard has abundant quantities of magnesium and calcium in addition to vitamin K. Calcium is known to aid bone health and studies indicate that Vitamin K also performs similar functions to improve the health of bones
- There are not many side effects of Swiss chard. However, individuals with a history of kidney stones should avoid the vegetable as the oxalic acid in Swiss chard can increase the susceptibility to developing oxalate stones. One can cook Swiss chard for three minutes or more to diminish the oxalic acid content in it.
Nutritional information-Swiss chard
Nutritional value per 100 g
|Energy||84 kJ (20 kcal)|
|– Dietary fiber||2.1|
Swiss chard pictures