Swiss chard is a complicated vegetable. It has a complex relationship with people.
But really, it shouldn’t.
Swiss chard should be a staple in people’s diets, but unfortunately, it is often seen as a tricky and confusing leafy green veggie.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Whether you are a chef, or a mom, or on your child’s school board, swiss chard is a vegetable that truly deserves more respect.
That’s why I’m here to help raise awareness for the often snubbed swiss chard. Swiss chard is a powerful superfood that is great to eat and readily available and affordable. The time to stop overlooking swiss chard has now arrived (with a little help from my ushering).
So, do you want to become a swiss chard expert?
Follow along, I’ve got you covered.
What Is Swiss Chard?
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve included swiss chard in a recipe, only to have someone curiously ask, “what is swiss chard?”
What is swiss chard? Will anyone ever truly solve this superfood mystery?
Swiss chard is in the beet and spinach family (what an unlikely couple, I know). The family name is called the goosefoot family (yep, this is because swiss chard resembles a goose’s foot). Nope, I can’t explain how beets fit into this namesake. But that’s not overly important, is it?
To keep it simple, swiss chard is a massively sized leafy green. It’s the big veiny green leaves that typically have hints of red you often see in the produce section of your grocery store. The leaves feel exactly as they appear to be: crisp. The colorful stems of swiss chard make it easily identifiable.
There are several different types of swiss chard.
- Rainbow Chard
- Ruby Chard
- White-stemmed Chard
These all fall under the swiss chard family. There are other types of chard, but we are focused solely on swiss chard.
Swiss Chard Nutrition
Swiss chard nutrition is the driving factor behind swiss chard benefits. The nutritional makeup of any superfood will always be the determiner of what benefits that superfood will have.
Superfoods, however, are usually chockfull of nutrients (hence, the superfood label) and therefore result in numerous benefits.
Here are the main nutrient players in swiss chard.
- vitamin K (three times recommended daily amount)
- vitamin A
- vitamin C
That’s a potent superfood nutrient lineup if I’ve ever seen one (and I have, considering this is a superfood review website). I’m not going to point out every minuscule swiss chard nutrient because that waste your reading energy. However, when we focus on the main swiss chard nutrients, we can extract a dense number of potential swiss chard benefits.
Yes, the nutrients tied the room together!
So let’s move on to swiss chard benefits and really get this party started!
Swiss Chard Benefits
Low Calorie, High Fiber Experience = Weight Loss Potential
The key to losing weight is eating fewer calories than you expel. It’s a simple, yet often forgotten basic science. While it is possible to live life in a state of hunger and lose weight, it isn’t practical.
For this very reason, it is most effective to lower caloric intake by eating lower calorie, higher fiber foods.
Yep, that means eating more swiss chard.
One cup of diced Swiss chard is equal to only 35 calories. At the same time, you get .6 grams of fiber. This will help you feel satisfied and lower the likelihood you’ll want to overeat.
Swiss chard’s profile of low calorie plus high fiber density means increased satiety.
Feel free to NOT take my word on the matter. Instead, you can refer to legit scientific studies that confirm exactly what I’m saying.
Kidney Stone Prevention – Wait, What?
A study using 1,748 men and women measured MGP levels after a 12-year duration. The study revealed that those participants with the densest levels of inactive MGP were 31 percent more likely to develop kidney stones.
Swiss chard contains a good amount of vitamin K. Vitamin K, as fortune would have it, activates MGP.
Allow me to simplify this concept a bit.
Vitamin K is a calcium transporter. Without vitamin K, it would be a tough road to get calcium where it needs to be: the bones. Instead, calcium can be left to form stones.
Remember, its the nutrients of every superfood that reveals the benefits. Vitamin K is a big deal. Many people don’t get enough of it (go figure).
Swiss Chard May Lessen Effects Of Aging
Vitamin K2 activates Matrix-GLA in the body, which can help prevent a process known as calcification of elastin. Elastin, in a relationship with collagen, can help the skin maintain a more youthful appearance.
Again, we are back to the vitamin K. Its that important and so often, completely overlooked.
Swiss Chard and Osteoporosis Prevention – More vitamin K…
Yep, we aren’t done with vitamin K.
Because vitamin K improves calcium absorption (remember, it’s diverting it to the bones and away from kidney stone hell!), it can help prevent the condition of osteoporosis.
People who are deficient in vitamin K often suffer more bone fractures.
Another big win here is that swiss chard, like many leafy greens, also has a lot of calcium in it.
So with swiss chard, you get the calcium you need, plus you get the calcium transporter you need to make sure the calcium gets to its proper destination (your bones).
Swiss Chard May Prevent Cancer
The big “C word.”
None of want to hear that word ever spoke to us.
I’m uncomfortable even writing the word.
But unfortunately, cancer is one of our world’s top killers. Most all of us have known someone with cancer, or had it ourselves.
In some ways, cancer prevention is likely a daily thing. The good news is, daily swiss chard may help prevent cancer.
Swiss chard contains chlorophyll, which may serve to stop the activation of heterocyclic amines.
What are heterocyclic amines? Heterocyclic amines are carcinogenic compounds that form when foods are grilled.
Remember a few years ago when the big “meat causes cancer” headlines were virtually everywhere? Well, that was all related to heterocyclic amines. While avoiding grilled meats would seem to be the most intelligent strategy, it’s not likely the most practical. It may be more practical to consume daily leafy greens that contain heterocyclic amine stoppers such as swiss chard, instead.
Again, its all about the daily routine. Preventing cancer is a long game, not a sprint, and swiss chard helps over extended periods of time.
Swiss Chard May Help Manage Diabetes
The antioxidant alpha-lipoic acid is proven to help increase insulin sensitivity and lower blood glucose levels.
For people with diabetes, this is a magic formula.
It just so happens that our friend, swiss chard, contains a good amount of alpha-lipoic acid.
It should be noted that the only true studies revealing alpha-lipoic acid successfully helping diabetics used intravenous ingestion. My point being, the science is decent, but not overly clear.
When it comes to diabetes, management is most likely achieved by eating a full on healthy diet that includes swiss chard.
Swiss Chard and Athleticism
Swiss chard may very well help improve athletic performance. Swiss chard contains nitrates, which reportedly improve athletic durability. Nitrates can help you work out for longer durations, which means more athletic benefits and more caloric burn.
To be fair, the idea of nitrates improving athletic ability is a controversial one. Not all science is super supportive in such regard. But many athletes and athletic trainers use it for the very reason of increased nitrates.
How To Prepare Swiss Chard
First and foremost, it’s important to understand that swiss chard can be prepared both raw and cooked. Clearly, you should wash it in either case.
I’m not going to spend too much time on raw swiss chard. The fact is, that usually means juicing it, or putting it in a salad. Some of my methods below involve raw swiss chard, but I’ve left out juicing and salads.
Saute Swiss Chard
The most simple method of swiss chard preparation, with the exception of eating swiss chard raw, is to simply saute it. You can use a healthy oil such as coconut oil or avocado oil in a pan and stir the swiss chard over medium heat. The swiss chard will break down just like spinach does under the same circumstances.
This is, of course, only a starting point.
Once you sautee your swiss chard, you can serve it up as a basic side to any meal.
Or, you can put it in an omelet (one of my favorite ways).
Swiss Chard Smoothie
What’s better than a green smoothie?
Green smoothies are the healthiest drinks on earth. You can easily make swiss chard smoothies and really ramp up your smoothie health prowess.
Swiss chard, like spinach, can easily be used to make a smoothie. Unlike juicing which extracts the plant’s fiber (that’s why I refuse to talk juicing), smoothies keep the fiber integrity alive and well.
Make no mistake about it, drinking just plain blended swiss chard with water won’t be a fun experience. You will need a base (bananas, avocados, almond milk, yogurt, or something like that) and probably some sort of natural sugar source, such as apples, pears, peaches, or otherwise.
You want to be healthy, but not nauseous.
Grilled Swiss Chard
Just like a pork chop or ribs, your swiss chard can be easily and tastily grilled.
Here’s some swiss chard grilling fun with none other than Martha Stewart…
Swiss Chard Soup
One of the healthiest way to eat any leafy green superfood is by way of soup.
Swiss chard soup can contain both the stalks and leaves. You will want to make sure you add the stalks before the leaves so they are exposed to heat for a longer period of time. Swiss chard stalks are denser and need more time to break down.
You can utilize onions, lemons, lentils, and a variety of beans in your swiss chard soup. If you have an Instantpot, you can almost guarantee incredible results pending you are competent at following directions.
What Does Swiss Chard Taste Like?
Oh boy, I know you’ve been thinking about it.
I’ve been thinking about it.
Its OK to wonder, what does swiss chard taste like?
Well, in its raw state, it tastes like a buttery plant. Look, it is a plant, so that should come as no surprise. However, the buttery aspect really drives the taste to a more palatable experience.
But here’s the thing…
Who cares what swiss chard taste like?
While swiss chard may serve as a base for a salad, you are almost certain to use at least olive oil and other veggies and fruits. Swiss chard, in a raw salad, will be overwhelmed by apples and onions.
When it comes to cooking it, swiss chard miraculously becomes much more buttery. When you cook it, you will most likely use an oil like coconut oil or olive oil. You will use pepper and salt. Swiss chard is a base, it won’t overwhelm.
I don’t love the taste sections of these guides because taste is such a subjective experience. Swiss chard is cheap to buy, its easy to try.
How To Grow Swiss Chard
Gardening isn’t my thing, admittedly.
But I have some good news.
Swiss chard is one of the easiest leafy greens to grow. In fact, swiss chard is often grown in place of spinach because it can handle heat much more soundly. Additionally, swiss chard can handle lower temperatures much better as well.
This seasonal versatility makes growing swiss chard an experience that tolerates a little brown thumb.
Here are some tips for growing swiss chard:
- Swiss chard needs sun exposure. Make sure you plant it in a place where it gets a lot of sun.
- Northerners, you want to plant swiss chard from spring to the middle of summer.
- Southerners, you want to plant swiss chard from fall to springtime.
- You won’t need to spray, insects hardly “bug” swiss chard.
It’s easier and simpler to just buy your swiss chard at the grocery. But for those looking to get into swiss chard gardening, it is good to know the experience isn’t too complex.
Swiss chard benefits are are a result of the leafy greens dense nutritional experience. Swiss chard tastes decent raw, but when cooked or prepared in smoothies, it can truly taste fantastic. Growing your own swiss chard is a simple experience, particularly for those with previous gardening experience. Swiss chard is a low costs, super beneficial vegetable that can be included in a myriad of dishes and preparations.