Like the pretty neighbor across the street who seems to lead an ordinary suburban life but is actually out saving the world, Swiss Chard is the super hero in disguise. More than just a colorful vegetable, it is high in phytonutrients and versatile to cook with.
The dark green leaves are loaded with antioxidants and flavonoids, and the colorful stems contain other phytonutrients that have anti-inflammatory and detoxifying properties.
Considered one of the most nutritious vegetables (ranked second to spinach), Swiss Chard has some surprising additional health benefits. The leaves of this interesting plant actually help to stabilize blood sugar by blocking carbohydrates from being broken down into sugars, thereby, helping to reduce the sugar/insulin rollercoaster that can occur following a meal. The dark green color of the leaves tell you they are rich in vitamins and minerals which serve as powerful antioxidants and help strengthen your immune system.
The stems of Swiss Chard come in colors from purple and red to yellow and orange, and contain a different set of phytonutrients. These are especially important for the anti-inflammatory effects it has. Chronic low levels of inflammation have been linked to diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, arthritis, and artherosclerosis. The stems also help rid your body of toxins that build up from stress and exposure to pollutants, pesticides, and other toxic chemicals.
Not from Switzerland at all, but rather a Mediterranean vegetable, Swiss Chard has a few more “secret” attributes. Very high in vitamin K, it helps keep bones strong. Swiss Chard is a good source of calcium which builds bones, but the vitamin K helps that calcium to stay in our bones. Swiss Chard is also high in fiber which promotes a healthy digestive tract, and is high in protein, as well. Not only does Swiss Chard help balance blood sugar, but it can help cells in the pancreas to regenerate; combined with the nutritional support it provides for the nervous system, it is an excellent dietary addition for those who have diabetes or blood sugar disorders.
How to Prepare Swiss Chard:
The leaves can be prepared in the same way as other greens such as collard or mustard greens. They can also be used in place of spinach in your favorite dishes; just cook them like you would spinach leaves.
The leaves are milder than other greens and can be eaten raw. I recommend using them with other vegetables in a salad to balance the slightly strong flavor. Below, I have included my favorite recipe for a Swiss Chard salad. My entire family enjoys it and requests it often. It is a fabulous dish to take to a pot luck dinner and it will have everyone talking about it. So next time you are shopping for produce, give Swiss Chard a second look. It is not just a pretty face, but a super hero for your good health.
Swiss Chard Salad
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Yields: 6 servings
1 bunch rainbow Swiss chard, finely chopped
1/2 package baked tofu cut into bite-size cubes
2 cups red cabbage, shredded coarsely
2-3 carrots, grated
1 cup toasted walnuts
2-3 cloves garlic (pressed or chopped)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup walnut oil
2 tablespoons roasted sesame oil
1. Cut off stems of the Swiss chard and slice small, then chop leaves by rolling the chard into a tube and slicing thinly, creating narrow strips.
2. Blend all dressing ingredients and mix well. The dressing will last for a few days in the refrigerator.
3. Mix all salad ingredients and drizzle with dressing. Serve.
(From the archives of The Institute of Integrative Nutrition)