Swiss chard nutrition facts
Succulent swiss chard, also known as spinach chard or silverbeet, is a popular green leafy vegetable of European origin. Botanically, it belongs to the beet family, the same family, which also includes table beets, sugar beets, garden beets etc.
Scientific name: Beta vulgaris, Cicla group.
Chard is an annual crop widely grown greens around Mediterranean region and is available at its best during summer season from June until November months.
Chard plant features distinctly large dark green leaves with well-developed edible stalks. Generally, chard leaves are harvested at various stages of maturity. While whole plant with tender young leaves harvested for salad preparation; individual matured large sized leaves with slightly tougher stems picked up for sautéing and cooking.
Swiss chard comes in variety of types based on their shiny, crunchy stalks or petiole:
- Green stalk: Lucullus.
- Red stalk: Charlotte, Rhubarb Chard.
- Multi-colored stalk: Bright Lights (white, orange, yellow, purple, pink).
Health benefits of Swiss chard
Swiss chard, like spinach, is the store-house of many phytonutrients that have health promotional and disease prevention properties.
Chard is very low in calories (19 kcal per 100 g fresh, raw leaves) and fats, recommended in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs.
Chard leaves are an excellent source of anti-oxidant vitamin, vitamin-C. Its fresh leaves provide about 33% of recommended levels per 100 g. As an anti-oxidant, vitamin C helps to quench free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) through its reduction potential properties. Research studies suggests that regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps maintain normal connective tissue, prevent iron deficiency, and also helps body develop resistance against infectious agents by boosting immunity.
Chard is one of the excellent vegetable sources for vitamin-K; 100 g provides about 700% of recommended intake. Vitamin K has potential role bone health by promoting osteotrophic (bone formation and strengthening) activity. Adequate vitamin-K levels in the diet helps limiting neuronal damage in the brain; thus, has established role in the treatment of patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
It is also rich source of omega-3 fatty acids; vitamin-A and flavonoids anti-oxidants like ß carotene, ?-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.
It is also rich in B-complex group of vitamins such as folates, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin and pantothenic acid that are essential for optimum cellular metabolic functions.
It is also rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, sodium, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure by countering effects of sodium. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Iron is required for cellular oxidation and red blood cell formation.
Regular inclusion of swiss chard in the diet is found to prevent osteoporosis, iron deficiency anemia, vitamin A deficiency and believed to protect from cardiovascular diseases and colon and prostate cancers.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.20 g||1%|
|Dietary Fiber||1.6 g||4%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.172 mg||3%|
|Vitamin A||6116 IU||204%|
|Vitamin C||30 mg||50%|
|Vitamin E||1.89 mg||12.5%|
|Vitamin K||830 mcg||692%|
Selection and storage
Swiss chard is available at its best during summer months from June until October. Chard can be harvested while the leaves are young and tender or after maturity when they are larger and have slightly tougher stems. In the store, buy fresh chard leaves featuring crispy, crunchy, brilliant dark green color.
Chard is extremely perishable leafy vegetable, therefore, should be used quickly once harvested. If at all to store in the refrigerator, set temperature below 35 degree F and high humidity level to maintain vitality.
Preparation and serving methods
As in spinach, chard leaves should be washed thoroughly in clean running water and rinsed in saline water for about 30 minutes in order to remove soil, dirt and any insecticide/fungicide residues.
Here are some serving tips:
Fresh young chard can be used raw in salads.
Mature chard leaves and stalks are typically cooked, braised or sautéed; the bitter flavor fades with cooking. However, antioxidant properties of chard are significantly decreased on steaming, frying and boiling.
Silverbeet pie, with pistachio, raisins, cheese stuffing (filling) is a favorite Italian and Mediterranean regions.
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