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swiss chard: nutritional elements

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Swiss chard is a much preferred staple leafy vegetable among the Mediterranean communities. In recent years however, it has also grown quite popular among other cultures for its flavorful root and leaves as well as its nutritional value. While the leaves remain a stark green, the stalks or roots of this plant vary in color from tan, red to deep purple. There are also Chards known by Rainbow Chards for their colorful stalks in white, blue, green and pink!

The entire plant is often consumed, but much of the nutrients are found within its leaves, not the root. Many who have noticed this vegetable have often mistaken it for a beet, and in fact it remains within the beet family. Other popular names the Swiss Chard is known by include perpetual spinach, spinach beet, crab beet and a few others.

The most fruitful time of the year for this vegetable is between the months of April and August although it is grown year round. While some prefer to pick and prepare Swiss Chard in its infancy, others choose to let the plant ripen to adulthood when the stalks are tougher. Either way, this is simply a matter of preference for the person eating and preparing this delicious vegetable.

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Swiss Chard offers a host of nutritional elements and is fortified with vitamins K, C and A. It is also packed with protein and fiber. Though some cultures choose to eat Swiss Chard raw, such as topping salads with it or eating it with dip, more people choose to broil, sauté or steam the veggie as it has a bitter taste and depending on when picked can be tough to chew. This is a popular vegetable among the Asian communities as well.

In addition to those listed above, Swiss Chard also has potassium, magnesium, iron and vitamins B 6 and B 12, all of which are beneficial to the body and its production.

Recent Studies

Recent studies of Swiss Chard are now stating that it has even more benefits than once thought. Most Swiss Chard contains polyphenol antioxidants, which is also found in kale, strawberries, broccoli and other vegetables. The polyphenol antioxidants have been researched and studied and has been proven to help regulate the body’s blood sugar level by controlling the alpha-glucosidase which assists in the dissection of the sugars contained in carbohydrates. When this enzyme regulates how the carbohydrates are broken down, it impacts how much sugar is released into the blood stream at one time. By regulating this process, the sugars are broken down and released at a slower pace which means the body can utilize the sugars and carbohydrates as energy sources instead of storing the sugar without utilizing it.

Swiss Chard is also an amazing source of phytonutrients which have anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and detox properties, all of which can help the body break down foods as well as protect the acids within the stomach that often cause bowel, colon and digestive discomfort.

Preparing Your Swiss Chard

Always wash your Swiss Chard thoroughly in cold water before cooking or consuming but refrain from soaking as various nutrients can be lost. Throw away any brown areas that may be present on the leaves or stem. Swiss Chard can only be stored for a few days as it tends to go bad and wilt quite quickly and is best served fresh.

Most people only eat the stems which are white; if you have purchased a different kind of Swiss Chard which has colorful stems it is best to throw them away as they are very tough for chewing and don’t have a lot of nutritional value.

Slice the leaves into small quarters and boil for about 3-5 minutes depending on how you want the texture to be. The boiling process works wonders at ridding of the acids within the stems and leaves and for that reason, the water should be discarded rather than used as it will contain harsh acids that are not good for ingestion.

A Few Recipes

Swiss Chard is served in many variations. Below are a few delicious ways you can serve it and benefit from its valuable nutritious contents.

Swiss Chard and Pasta

After boiling the Chard place the leaves into a fryer and add 2 tablespoons of oil or peanut oil, a tablespoon of lemon juice and a teaspoon of fresh garlic. Sauté over low heat for a few minutes.

At the same time prepare some pasta of your choice. Drain. Scoop the Chard mixture over the pasta and serve immediately.

Swiss Chard Omelet

Prepare your omelet as you usually would. Boil your Swiss Chard (leaves only) for about three or four minutes adding a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Place cooked Chard within the omelet when it is almost done along with some other veggies and cheese if desired. Heat for an additional minute and serve hot.

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One Response to "swiss chard: nutritional elements"

  1. Jenn says:

    Swiss chard is also crazy easy to grow, even here in the heart of Texas. I used to grow it all year long in containers in my back yard. Yum!

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