Swiss Chard is a leafy green with distinctive white stalks that are as thick as celery. It is a close cousin of beets and spinach. Don’t let the name deceive you, Swiss chard is not native to Switzerland. Its origin can be traced back to Southern Europe; to the Eastern and Southern Coasts of Spain.
In some parts of the world, Swiss chard is also known as just chard. While the close cousin beets are cultivated for their roots, Swiss chard is cultivated for its leaves and stems. When you want to eat Swiss chard, you strip the leaves away from the stems, cook them and find other uses for the stem.
What does Swiss chard taste like? Cooked Swiss chard will have a mild, slightly sweet taste that reminds you of spinach accompanied by an earthy flavor. If you are bold enough to eat Swiss chard raw, be prepared for the bitterness that will follow. For cooked Swiss chard, the taste is the opposite. Even when eaten raw, Swiss chard does not measure up to the bitterness of kale.
People find the taste of Swiss chard to be enjoyable, and it has found its way into many recipes around the world.
Nutritional Benefits of Swiss Chard
Kale is often regarded as the king among greens due to its robust nutritional benefits, but Swiss chard is no slacker. It is also stocked with an array of nutritional benefits. Swiss chard might be easy on the eyes, but its leaves and stems are a good source of nutrients, vitamins, and plant compounds.
In one cup of Swiss chard, you get 214 percent of the recommended daily intake (RDI) for vitamin A. As if that isn’t mind-blowing, you can also get 716 of the RDI for vitamin K. For vitamins C and E, you get 53 percent and 17 percent of the RDI respectively.
Swiss chard can provide the body with large doses of vitamins, and it also contains calcium, protein, manganese, copper, potassium, iron, and fiber. The super leafy-vegetable is nutrient-dense because it only offers a few calories in exchange for all these vitamins and minerals. Approximately 35 calories and 7 grams of carbs can be found in Swiss chard.
One cup of Swiss chard can supply the body with about 4 grams of fiber. Fiber plays an important role in the digestive tract. It could also help reduce blood sugar levels by reducing the rate at which the body absorbs carbs after a meal.
A regular intake of foods that have a high fiber content can also help protect the body against certain kinds of cancer; including, colon cancer, stomach cancer, and heart-related diseases. Another benefit of eating food that has fiber is that it reduces insulin resistance, which is usually associated with obesity and diabetes.
Vitamin K refers to a group of fat-soluble compounds of which phylloquinone (vitamin K1) is part. From one cup of Swiss chard, you can have more than 7 times the RDI for vitamin K1. This vitamin helps with normal cellular functions and blood clotting in the event of an injury occurring. The body also needs it to form a protein compound known as osteocalcin which helps in bone formation and promotes bone health.
Swiss chard might be able to help with weight loss or weight control. It contains a high amount of fiber, which helps people to feel fuller after a meal. Eating food with a high fiber content like Swiss chard can help with reduction as the feeling of fullness will keep you from eating as much as you used to. Swiss chard also plays host to antioxidants that can help promote heart health and protect cells in the body from damage by free radicals.
Culinary Uses of Swiss Chard
Swiss chard can be sliced and enjoyed in salads, especially when the leaves are still young and immature. Matured leaves have a tougher texture, they might not be as pleasant as immature leaves when served raw, so they better be eaten after they have been cooked.
The stems of Swiss chard are usually firm and fibrous and have been likened to celery. When cooking Swiss chard, the stems and ribs are removed from the leaves because they require a long cooking time. However, you don’t have to throw them away, they can be added to stir-fry dishes or sautéed in sauces.
Swiss chard can be roasted like kale, grilled, steamed, or sautéed. The most preferable way to cook it is to use a moist cooking method. When cooking Swiss chard, it is essential to have it thoroughly cleaned under running water as the leaves could easily trap dirt.
This leafy-green is just as versatile as spinach and can be used in recipes like stuffed Swiss chard leaves, Cannellini White Bean soup with Swiss chard, or crustless chard and bacon Quiché. Swiss chard also does well in more popular dishes like casseroles, soups, stews, and gratins. If you plan to eat it raw, try it with some olive oil or a squeeze of lemon juice.
Swiss chard can also be used in dishes or recipes that require leafy wraps or greens to make them healthier, for example, sandwiches, cabbage rolls, burgers, or cheeses that have a sharp taste.
Luci’s Morsels’ blog shares a Swiss Chard recipe that is a mouthwatering way to incorporate more veggies in your diet. The flavor and versatility of the dish highlights the sweet taste of Swiss Chard!
What is the Origin of Swiss Chard? Where to Procure it?
Swiss chard belongs to the species Beta vulgaris. The name chard seems to have originated from the French word carde or the Latin word carduus which refers to artichoke. However, the origin of the addition of Swiss isn’t quite clear, but it might have been because it was first identified by a Swiss botanist. Swiss chard is a biennial plant that is usually available between June and October depending on the harvesting period, and it is native to Southern Europe.
If you walk into a produce market, Swiss chard shouldn’t be hard to find in the section for leafy greens or vegetables. If you don’t want to go to a produce market, you might be lucky to find it in a farmer’s market or by pure chance at a grocery store.
Which is Better for You: Spinach or Swiss Chard?
In terms of nutrition, spinach comes out as the winner. It has a higher calcium content and boasts of minerals like zinc, manganese, riboflavin, and trace amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.
Facts You Don’t Know About Swiss Chard
- Vinegar can help you balance out the bitter taste of raw Swiss chard.
- In Australia, Swiss chard doesn’t go by the name chard, plants from the Beta vulgaris species are regarded as “Silverbeet”.