Monday, November 19, 2012

The choice isn't hard, eat Swiss chard!

by Leanne Ely

It's so exciting in the spring of the year to see the beautiful rainbow-colored leaves of swiss chard at the farmers' market and on my plate! More than just a pretty face, these gorgeous veggies are full of nutrition. While I like chard best in the spring when it's at its freshest, I love eating this green wonder all year round.

Swiss chard comes not from Switzerland, but from Sicily. Around the world this leafy green is known as strawberry spinach, white beat, Chilian beet, Roman kale, silverbeet, leaf beet, spinach beet, Sicilian beet or, simply, as chard.

It's very easy to grow your own chard, and you know how I feel about growing your own food. Just do it!

Let's take a look at the benefits this stunning vegetable provides us with:

Vitamins K, C and A. Swiss chard is a superhero when it comes to Vitamin K. There are up to 8 times the recommended daily amount of this vitamin in a cup of boiled chard. Vitamin K, of course, helps our bones grow nice and strong! The Vitamin C in chard helps our immune systems and it's also high in Vitamin A, helping to keep our peepers in good health.

Calcium. In addition to all this bone-strengthening Vitamin K, chard also contains calcium that helps keep our bones healthy.

Anti-oxidizing, Anti-inflammatory and detoxing agents. Those pretty veins in the leaves and the stem of chard are full of antioxidants. The betalains in there are anti-oxidizing, anti-inflammatory and detoxing agents that are all super good for you.

Blood sugar regulating. There's a ton of protein and fiber in swiss chard, which helps keep blood sugar levels nice and even. There's also a special flavonoid in chard that helps our blood sugar levels. Syringic acid helps to inhibit the activity of a problematic enzyme called alpha-glucosidase. This leads to fewer carbs being broken into simple sugars, allowing blood sugars to keep nice and steady.

To get the most benefits from your chard, I suggest you steam it a little bit to bring out its sweet taste. Through the cooking process, acid is released from the chard's leaves and you don't want to eat that, so make sure to discard your cooking liquid.

I enjoy swiss chard in pasta dishes, omelets and in salads.

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