Unexpectedly Delicious: Swiss Chard


Swiss chard is a tall dark leafy green vegetable that is in the same family as beets and spinach.  In fact, you could venture to say that its flavour is almost a hybrid of these two vegetables. With pungent and slightly salty notes, Swiss chard often has an undertone of sweetness when cooked – similar to that of beets!  Its wide leaves fan out from a yellow, white or red crisp stalk. This vegetable will wilt down substantially when cooked, concentrating its wonderful flavours and nutrients!

Despite its name, Swiss chard does not originate from Switzerland. It comes from further south in the Mediterranean region, where Greeks used to honour the area for its medicinal properties.


Why should you eat it?                                                                                             

Swiss chard contains a combination of nutrients that have shown to exhibit potent health benefits including possible improvement in blood sugar regulation, anti-inflammatory properties and bone health. Unique flavonoids in Swiss chard have shown to help slow the breakdown of carbohydrate into simple sugars; thereby, controlling a more even blood sugar post meal. More research in human studies is required to confirm this mechanism.

Due to its excellent array of vitamins (A, C, E and K) available, Swiss chard is undoubtedly a powerful anti-inflammatory leafy green! Further studies have shown that Swiss chard has an even wider list of antioxidant phytonutrients such as betalains that lend the bright colour to the stems of the plant. Many of these pigments have been shown to provide anti-inflammatory and detoxification support.

Essential nutrients that are involved in bone metabolism and bone support include vitamin K, magnesium and calcium. Guess what?  Swiss chard is a wonderful source of all of them, making it a strong vegetable to consume for bone health!


Nutrition value of ½ cup of cooked Swiss chard:

  • Over 400% of your daily vitamin A requirements; a vitamin that supports both immune and vision health
  • Over 600% of daily vitamin K requirements; an essential vitamin that plays a role in bone health and blood clotting
  • An excellent source of vitamin C; a powerful antioxidant involved in immune function and as well as collagen production
  • An excellent source of magnesium; an important mineral in maintaining bone, nervous system function and blood sugar control
  • An excellent source of copper
  • A good source of dietary fibre, containing about 2g per ½ cup, and less than 2 grams of net carbohydrate


The wonders of how to enjoy it:

If you are not using your Swiss chard right away, do not wash it before storing in your fridge for up to one week. Store in an air tight zip lock bag to prolong shelf life.

Prepare your Swiss chard by running under cool water and pat dry.  Remove any imperfections such as discoloured or slimy parts of the plant. The lower stems of the plant can be quite tough to eat so these can be removed and discarded. Chop up your Swiss chard into 1 inch pieces before cooking.

You can eat Swiss chard leaves raw, steamed or boiled. The larger and more fibrous the leaf, the more likely that it will taste better steamed or boiled versus raw. Small inner leaves can be eaten raw, thrown into a mixed green salad like you would baby spinach.


Recipes & Ideas:

  • Curried Quinoa and Lentil Salad with Swiss Chard (Recipe in this month’s newsletter)
  • Turkey Meatball and Swiss Chard Soup
  • Cold Sesame Swiss Chard
  • Sautéed Swiss chard with Garlic
  • Sausage and potato Chard soup
  • Swiss Chard Dolmas with tomato sauce
  • Swiss Chard Gratin
  • Chopped Swiss Chard Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette
  • Swiss Chard Wrapped salmon fillets


Did you know that…

Swiss chard contains oxalic acid, a component that binds calcium in your digestive tract, reducing its absorption. This is also the reason why some individuals may get a tingly or burning feeling in their mouth or throat when eating the vegetable raw. Not to worry though! Studies show that if the chard is steamed or boiled, the acid content is significantly reduced. For example, boiling your Swiss chard for about 2 minutes and discarding the water can help to reduce the acid content by over 80%. Smaller tenderer Swiss chard leaves have a lower acid content and are better tolerated when eaten raw.