Swiss chard is not native to Switzerland. Its actual homeland lies further south, in the Mediterranean region. Ancient Greeks, and later the Romans, honored chard for its medicinal properties.
Chard belongs to the chenopod family, the same family as beets, spinach ,and quinoa. The recommendation is to include in your diet foods from the chenopod family 1-2 times per week with a serving size of at least 1/2 cup to one full cup.
Swiss chard has a crunchy stalk that comes in white, red or yellow (the different color stalks represent different phytonutrients) with wide fan-like green leaves and has a flavor that is bitter, pungent, and slightly salty. Swiss chard, kale, mustard greens and collard greens are often referred to as "greens".
Nutrient Profile: Swiss chard is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium, vitamin E, and iron. It is a very good source of dietary fiber, choline, vitamin B2, calcium, vitamin B6, phosphorus, and protein. Additionally, Swiss chard is a good source of pantothenic acid, zinc, vitamin B1, vitamin B3, folate, and selenium.
Blood Sugar benefits: Multiple studies on animals have shown that chard has unique benefits for blood sugar regulation. In addition, chard may provide special benefits in the diets of individuals diagnosed with diabetes. These benefits may be due to one of the flavonoids, the fiber and/or the protein in chard.
Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory benefits: It is beneficial to prevent oxidative stress and diseases related to chronic, unwanted inflammation. Chronic low level inflammation (especially when coupled with excessive oxidative stress) has repeatedly been shown to increase our risk of obesity, atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and several forms of arthritis. Chard’s an excellent source of a variety of conventional antioxidants: vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene) and the mineral manganese, and a good source of the mineral zinc. In addition, chard's phytonutrient antioxidants (can be seen with its colorful stems, stalks, and leaf veins) are unique in combating inflammation and oxidative stress.
Support of Bone Health: With its very good supply of calcium and its excellent supply of magnesium and vitamin K, chard provides standout bone support.
Selection and Storage: Choose chard that is held in a chilled display as this will help to ensure that it has a crunchier texture and sweeter taste. Look for leaves that are vivid green in color. Store unwashed chard in a plastic bag wrapped tightly squeezing out as much air from the bag as possible. It will keep fresh in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Swiss chard can be eaten fresh, steamed, braised, juiced, sautéed, frozen and dried. Generally, any flavor that works well with spinach will partner with chard, including butter, lemon, cream, garlic, shallots and vinaigrette.
Concerns: Oxalates: Swiss chard is among a small number of foods that contain measurable amounts of oxalates (naturally-occurring substances found in plants, animals, and human beings). When oxalates become too concentrated in body fluids, they can crystallize and cause health problems. For this reason, individuals with already existing and untreated kidney or gallbladder problems may want to avoid eating Swiss chard.
Recipe suggestion: From Jessica Seinfeld's website: Balsamic Swiss Chard with Pine Nuts and Garlic.