Chard ranks second only to spinach following an analysis of the total nutrient-richness of the World’s Healthiest vegetables.
While the leaves are always green, chard stalks vary in color. Chard has very large, shiny, green, ribbed leaves. It may well be one of the larger items in your shares with leaves as long as 1 foot or more!
As one of the large, leafy green vegetables that you receive, it might be difficult to tell the difference between chard and kale. Chard leaves’ texture will be much softer and more buttery than kale. And, of course, look for the beautiful stems of the chard!
Swiss chard is high in vitamins A, K and C, with a 175 g serving containing 214%, 716%, and 53%, respectively, of the recommended daily value. It is also rich in minerals, dietary fiber and protein.
- We’ve become accustomed to thinking about vegetables as great sources of phytonutrients. Indeed they are! But we don’t always appreciate how unique each vegetable can be in terms of its phytonutrient content. Recent research has shown that chard leaves contain at least 13 different polyphenol antioxidants, including kaempferol, the cardioprotective flavonoid that’s also found in broccoli, kale, strawberries, and other foods. But alongside of kaempferol, one of the primary flavonoids found in the leaves of chard is a flavonoid called syringic acid. Syringic acid has received special attention in recent research due to its blood sugar regulating properties. This flavonoid has been shown to inhibit activity of an enzyme called alpha-glucosidase. When this enzyme gets inhibited, fewer carbs are broken down into simple sugars and blood sugar is able to stay more steady. It makes sense to think about chard as a vegetable whose flavonoid phytonutrients are unique and may offer special benefits for blood sugar control.
- Like beets, chard is a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains. In the betalain family are found reddish-purple betacyanin pigments as well as yellowish betaxanthin pigments. Both types can be found in chard! In the reddish-purple stems of chard and the reddish-purple veins in the leaves, scientists have identified at least 9 betacyanin pigments, including betanin, isobetanin, betanidin, and isobetanidin. In the yellowish stems and veins, at least 19 betaxanthin pigments have been identified, including histamine—betaxanthin, alanineâ’betaxanthin, tyramine-betaxanthin, and 3-methoxytyramine—betaxanthin. Many of the betalain pigments in chard have been shown to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support. The detox support provided by betalains includes support of some especially important Phase 2 detox steps involving glutathione. So you can see that in the case of chard, beauty is far from just skin deep!
Tips For Use:
Chard is one of only three vegetables that we recommend boiling to help reduce its concentration of oxalic acid.
Slice leaves 1-inch wide and the stems 1/2-inch wide and boil for just 3 minutes.
NOTE: We only recommend eating the stems of varieties with white stems; colored stems are very tough.
TO EASILY REMOVE TOUGH STEMS: Wash leaves & dry. Lay one leaf flat on a cutting board. Begining at the stem end, place a sharp knife beside the stem and, holding the end of the stem with the other hand, slide the knife down the leaf, seperating the leaf from the stem. Once you get the hang of it, this is very quick and easy!
Foods belonging to the chenopod family—including beets, chard, spinach, and quinoa—continue to show an increasing number of health benefits not readily available from other food families. The red and yellow betalain pigments found in this food family, their unique epoxyxanthophyll carotenoids, and the special connection between their overall phytonutrients and our nervous system health (including our specialized nervous system organs like the eye) point to the chenopod family of foods as unique in their health value. While we have yet to see large-scale human studies that point to a recommended minimum intake level for foods from this botanical family, we have seen data on chenopod phytonutrients, and based on this data, we recommend that you include foods from the chenopod family in your diet 1-2 times per week. In the case of a leafy food like Swiss chard, we recommend a serving size of at least 1/2 cup, and even more beneficial, at least one full cup.