Monday, April 4, 2011

Nutritional value of beets - Part 14: Swiss chard

Swiss chard leaf

Swiss chard, or simply 'chard', is part of the beet family (beta vulgaris). Indeed, beet greens and Swiss chard are often said to be the best-of-the-best high-quality, nutrient-dense super foods available. 

Chard is eaten for its leaves, not the root.  The leaves were the main value of beets, also, a few thousand years ago; however, over time, we have come to use the beet root as well. 

Swiss chard is known by other names: mangold, crab beet, silverbeet, spinach beet, perpetual spinach, and seakale beet. The latter, seakale, is often said to be the original plant which, through cultivation, gave rise to the modern beet root. Seakale can still be found growing wild in some areas by the Mediterranean Sea.

The name Swiss chard appears to have originated only in the nineteenth century. It is believed by some that the moniker Swiss was added to the name chard in order to distinguish chard from the French word for spinach. I doubt this since that word is epinard. More likely, 'Swiss' distinguishes this chard from another similar plant name pronounced much like chard at that time, perhaps carde, which was the French name for another chard-like vegetable, cardoon. Cardoon somewhat resembles celery but is related to artichokes.

Swiss chard is found to be a rich source of Vitamins A, C and K, plus dietary fibre, minerals, protein, carotenoids, and folic acid. When eaten raw, it is an excellent source of enzymes.

This Table contains only those values for nutrients present in the highest quantities in chard. For a more extensive list of nutrients and their associated values, please refer to the USDA National Nutrient database.

The nutritional values of Swiss chard are most abundantly represented in the following listed vitamins, phyto-nutrients and minerals:

Swiss chard: raw and cooked
Measure: 1 cup (36g)raw [7 calories] 
                1 cup (175g) cooked [35 calories]

Nutrient value
 Nutrient value
2202 IU
10717 IU
10.8 mg
31.5 mg
298.8 mcg
572.8 mcg
18 mg
102 mg
29 mg
150 mg
136 mg
961 mg
77 mg
313 mg
Lutein + zeaxanthin
3960 mcg
19276 mcg
1313 mcg
6391 mcg

IU = International Units; mg = milligram; mcg = microgram

Some food writers warn that Swiss chard is an unhealthy vegetable choice because it has a substantial sodium content. Obviously, these writers have not thought this through. When you examine the table above, you see that the sodium content is more than balanced by the potassium content. The sodium/potassium pump is well provisioned by Swiss chard.

No Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) is provided. For a broad overview of one of the new, incomplete standard measures that have replaced the RDA, check out Dietary Reference Intake .

Recipes using Swiss chard:

If you found this post useful, you may also wish to follow these links to find additional information on the health benefits of beets:

Table of nutritional values of raw beet root

Phyto-nutrients: betaine

Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL)

Table of nutritional values of raw beet greens
Vitamin A (Beet greens - raw)
Vitamin C (Beet greens - raw)
Vitamin K (Beet greens - raw)
Potassium (Beet greens - raw)
Magnesium (Beet greens - raw)
Manganese (Beet greens - raw)
Table of nutritional values of cooked beet root


Barry said...

Excellent summary. It will make it easier to find things. Can you do categories on blogspot. My favourites are the juices. It would be nice to go to one click to find them all. Should I buy a juicer or a blender? Do you know of a juicer that is easy to clean by handwashing?

jara said...

Barry, I'd love to do categories but the template I'm using doesn't support that function. I'm sure that I could code it if I had the time but, unfortunately, I don't right now so i;'m just hanging with the basics.