Why You Should Add Swiss Chard to Your Garden

Views 12297

Providing an abundance of fiber, essential minerals and nutrients, Swiss chard has noteworthy benefits that rival those of its more popular peers in the world of leafy greens

Swiss chard may not be the most popular leafy green out there, but it is just as nutritionally promising if you're looking for a healthy staple in your diet. It belongs to the Chenopodiodeae family, like well-loved spinach.

Its name might make you think it hailed from Switzerland, but Swiss chard is actually a native plant in the Mediterranean region used as "both food and fodder since ancient times."[i] Here are some compelling reasons to add Swiss chard to your life or garden today.

Chock Full of Nutrients

Just 1 cup, or 175 grams (g), of cooked Swiss chard offers a healthy amount of fiber along with the following, based on reference daily intake (RDI):[ii]

  • Vitamin C: 35%
  • Iron: 22%
  • Calcium: 8%
  • Potassium: 20%
  • Phosphorus: 5%

As you can see, Swiss chard can more than take care of your vitamin A and K1 needs. It is also fiber-rich and filling, making for a friendly food item when you're managing your weight. Fiber plays a number of critical roles in the body including optimizing gut bacteria, promoting good bowel health and helping optimize cholesterol levels.[iii]

In a systematic review, researchers looked at the nutritional profile and bioactive composition of the plant, finding that Swiss chard leaves, as opposed to the stems, have the highest concentration of fiber, sodium, magnesium, flavonoids as well as vitamin C; the stems are a rich source of potassium.[iv] They wrote:

"Swiss chard should be considered a source of nutrients and phytochemicals, and further research is needed on identifying and quantifying other bioactive compounds and understanding their impact on health."

Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes

Swiss chard can help regulate blood sugar levels in the body. In a BMJ Open study, higher green leafy vegetable or fruit intake was associated with a significantly reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes.[v]

In a Turkish animal study, chard extract was administered to the diabetic subjects in doses of 2 g/kg every day for 28 days.[vi] The diabetic group given chard saw their blood glucose  and uric acid levels drop, and the researchers concluded that the plant extract had a protective effect on the liver of diabetics.

Reduces Blood Pressure

Calcium, magnesium and potassium are minerals believed to help reduce blood pressure by pushing sodium out of the body along with helping the arteries dilate. Swiss chard contains these three minerals.

In a 2013 study, Swiss chard and other foods that are high in nitrates were found to offer vascular health benefits, such as reducing blood pressure and enhancing endothelial dysfunction.[vii] Based on preclinical studies on nitrates, there could be protective effects leading to reduced arterial stiffness, inflammation and intimal thickness.

Assists in Weight Loss

A fiber-rich vegetable like Swiss chard can help keep you feeling full longer, slashing the likelihood of unhealthy snacking.

In a study involving 120 overweight subjects, those who got twice the amount of vegetables had better weight loss and satisfaction after meals.[viii] "In the short term, consuming a higher proportion of the dietary energy as vegetables may support a greater weight loss and the dietary pattern appears sustainable," the study concluded.

Those who consume vegetables the most, as seen in a study on 563,277 subjects, are less likely to be overweight or obese.[ix]

Maintains Anticancer Potential

Not unlike its fellow leafy greens, Swiss chard has anticancer properties, in part because of its massive antioxidant content.[x] Its antioxidants, like xylosylvitexin, can be effective chemopreventive compounds, tied to a wide range of cancers including colon cancer.[xi] The compounds in Swiss chard may help promote activity against breast cancer cells, while increased consumption of green leafy vegetables in general may work against bladder cancer.[xii],[xiii]

How to Grow and Use Swiss Chard

Swiss chard can be eaten raw or cooked, although its taste becomes less bitter once it's sauteed or cooked another way. You may add the greens to your salad, soups or stews, or use it as a side dish on its own.

If you're keen on growing your own vegetables, know that Swiss chard prefers an area with full sun to partial shade. The soil, too, should be loose enough for draining properly. Follow these steps from Gardening Know How:[xiv]

  1. Make a row in the soil. Plant your seeds about a half inch deep, with eight to 10 seeds per foot. Keep around 18 inches of space between rows.
  2. Once the plants are a few inches tall, thin them to make them four to six inches apart.
  3. As it is easy to grow in general, simply give your chard enough room, water and a bit of natural fertilizer.

Read more than 120 scientific abstracts on green leafy vegetables on the GreenMedInfo.com database to discover more of the outstanding health offerings of Swiss chard and other leafy greens.

[viii] Tapsell L et al "Weight loss effects from vegetable intake: a 12-month randomised controlled trial" Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014 Jul; 68(7): 778-785. Epub 2014 Mar 26.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of GreenMedInfo or its staff.
Sayer Ji
Founder of GreenMedInfo.com

Subscribe to our informative Newsletter & receive The Dark Side of Wheat Ebook

Our newsletter serves 500,000 with essential news, research & healthy tips, daily.

Download Now

The Dark Side of Wheat

This website is for information purposes only. By providing the information contained herein we are not diagnosing, treating, curing, mitigating, or preventing any type of disease or medical condition. Before beginning any type of natural, integrative or conventional treatment regimen, it is advisable to seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.

© Copyright 2008-2023 GreenMedInfo.com, Journal Articles copyright of original owners, MeSH copyright NLM.