Why You Should Add Swiss Chard to Your Garden

By GreenMedInfo Research Group

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.

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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.

References [i] Romeiras M et al “Evolutionary and Biogeographic Insights on the Macaronesian Beta-Patellifolia Species (Amaranthaceae) from a Time-Scaled Molecular Phylogeny” PLoS One. 2016; 11(3): e0152456. Epub 2016 Mar 31 [ii] My Food Data https://tools.myfooddata.com/nutrition-facts/170401/wt1 [iii] Kaczmarczyk M et al “The health benefits of dietary fiber: beyond the usual suspects of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and colon cancer” Metabolism. 2012 Aug; 61(8): 1058-1066. Epub 2012 Mar 7. [iv] Gamba M et al “Bioactive compounds and nutritional composition of Swiss chard ( Beta vulgaris L. var. cicla and flavescens): a systematic review” Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2020 Aug 4;1-16. [v] Li M et al “Fruit and vegetable intake and risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus: meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies” BMJ Open. 2014 ;4(11):e005497. Epub 2014 Nov 5. [vi] Ozsoy-Sacan O et al “Effects of chard (Beta vulgaris L. var cicla) on the liver of the diabetic rats: a morphological and biochemical study” Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2004 Aug;68(8):1640-8. [vii] Lidder S et al “Vascular effects of dietary nitrate (as found in green leafy vegetables and beetroot) via the nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide pathway” Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2013 Mar;75(3):677-96. [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. [ix] Schwingshackl L et al “Fruit and Vegetable Consumption and Changes in Anthropometric Variables in Adult Populations: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies” PLoS One. 2015; 10(10): e0140846. Epub 2015 Oct 16. [x] Gennari L et al “Total extract of Beta vulgaris var. cicla seeds versus its purified phenolic components: antioxidant activities and antiproliferative effects against colon cancer cells” Phytochem Anal. May-Jun 2011;22(3):272-9. [xi] Deneo-Pellegrini H et al “Vegetables, fruits, and risk of colorectal cancer: a case-control study from Uruguay” Nutr Cancer. 1996;25(3):297-304. [xii] Ninfali P et al “Characterization and biological activity of the main flavonoids from Swiss Chard (Beta vulgaris subspecies cycla)” Phytomedicine. 2007 Feb;14(2-3):216-21. Epub 2006 May 15. [xiii] Xu C et al “Fruits and Vegetables Intake and Risk of Bladder Cancer: A PRISMA-Compliant Systematic Review and Dose-Response Meta-Analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies” Medicine (Baltimore). 2015 May ;94(17):e759. [xiv] Gardening Know How https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/swiss-chard/how-to-grow-swiss-chard.htm

The GMI Research Group (GMIRG) is dedicated to investigating the most important health and environmental issues of the day.  Special emphasis will be placed on environmental health.  Our focused and deep research will explore the many ways in which the present condition of the human body directly reflects the true state of the ambient environment.

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.

Source: GreenMedInfo

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