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Though chard is not as revered or popular as spinach or kale, there's no reason this much neglected vegetable shouldn't be part of your healthy, plant based diet.

Chard's technical name is beta vulgaris, and it is part of the Chenopodioideae or goosefoot family, which also includes beets and spinach. It has been used in traditional medicine to treat diseases ranging from constipation to dandruff for centuries, and we know from the writings of Aristotle that it has been in existence since at least the 4th century BC.

However, chard was only formally named by a Swiss botanist in 1753, hence why certain types of chard are known as “swiss chard.” Yet despite these seemingly Swedish roots, chard actually originated in the Sicily, and chard is far from the only name used to refer to beta vulgaris.

In Australia, chard is often called silverbeet, though some people use the terms "chard" and "silverbeet" to refer to different varieties of the same species. Others refer to green chard as silverbeet or swiss chard while referring to other types of chard by their respective stem color (eg "red chard").

The stems of chard can be red, purple, yellow, or orange, though all of these varieties have green leaves. This means that chard can offer many of the health benefits of green veggies and some of the unique nutritional properties of more colorful ones at the same time!

For example, chard is one of the only sources besides beets of an anti-inflammatory antioxidant called betalain. Since a serving of chard has around half the calories and less than half the sugar of a cup of beets, it makes a much better choice for weight loss!

Chard is also sometimes casually referred to as spinach despite the fact that the two have different nutritional and botanical profiles, and it is also occasionally called Roman kale, sicilian beet, chillian beet, or crab beet.

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A one cup serving of cooked chard also comes in at only 35 calories, while a cup of raw chard will come in at an even lower seven. This cup of cooked chard will also contain an astounding 7 times your RDI of Vitamin K, along with twice your RDI of Vitamin A and half your RDI of Vitamin C; the raw version will have somewhat less because it is less concentrated.

A serving of cooked chard also contains at least 10 percent of your RDI each of calcium, copper, magnesium, manganese, iron, and potassium, all important minerals that help regulate blood pressure and heart health. It will also contain smaller amounts of vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium.

Finally, a cup of cooked chard also provides 3.3 grams of protein along with 15 percent of your recommended daily intake (RDI) of fiber at 3.7 grams. All this, and practically no fat (0.14 grams) and absolutely no cholesterol!

These qualities go a long way towards making chard a health superfood. Studies have found that people who ate at least 1.5 servings a day of leafy greens like Swiss chard were 17 percent less likely to develop heart disease compared to people who ate fewer, as well as 13 percent less likely to develop diabetes.

People who ate more green vegetables were also found to have a slower rate of cognitive decline, and chard shares with other green vegetables a high level of nitrates, which have been shown to help lower blood pressure and improve blood oxygenation.

Chard also contains at least 13 different antioxidants, many of which have been found to have cancer-fighting properties. Chard's beta-carotene content may lower your risk of lung cancer, while other compounds found in chard have been shown to inhibit the growth of pancreatic cancer cells and colon cancer cells. The chloryphyll that gives chard's leaves its green color has also been shown to help offset the potentially carcinogenic effects of cooked food.

Meanwhile, the antioxidant vitexin seems to enhance chard's heart-healthy effects, and chard extract has additionally been shown in animal studies to help regulate liver function and cholesterol levels.

Finally, chard also contains alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid that has been shown to help regulate blood sugar and to help treat common complications of diabetes like neuropathy. Chard compound syringic acid has also been shown to have beneficial effects on blood sugar, and rat studies suggest that chard extract may even stimulate insulin-producing pancreatic cells to regenerate!

Red chard in its natural environment
Chard has a slightly bitter but relatively mild taste, so sensitive tasters who don't like stronger tasting vegetables may want to at least give it a try. Chard is also a good choice for the amateur gardener because it is easy to grow even in unfavorable environments, and because the bright tones of its colored varieties can do a lot to liven up a yard.

However, chard does have slightly higher sodium level than some other vegetables at 103 mg, so you might want to take it easy with the added salt while preparing your chard meals. Chard's oxalate content is also higher than that of even other green vegetables, so people who are prone to oxalate kidney stones may want to avoid it completely.

It's best to use or freeze your chard within 4 or 5 days of buying and avoid washing it until you're ready to use. Chard is available at its best between June and November, and you should look for plants that have firm, deep green leaves. Smaller-leaved varieties of chard also tend to be more tender and milder. The three recipes below combine antioxidant-packed chard with filling proteins like beef and shrimp and metabolism-boosting spices like cayenne pepper and garlic for some all-around great and great-for-you meals!

Stuffed Chard Rolls

stuffed chard rolls

These stuffed chard rolls are hearty, nutritious, and delicious! Estimated nutritional value of 245 calories, 7.8 g fat, 89 mg cholesterol, 5.3 g carbohydrates, 1.2 g fiber, 36.4 g protein, and 1.9 g sugar.

Prep Time
10 minutes
Cook time
30 minutes
Yield
Makes 1 serving (1 protein, 1 vegetable)

Ingredients

  • 100 grams lean ground beef (per serving)
  • 1 or more large chard leaves, any kind
  • 1 cup beef broth or 1 serving homemade marinara sauce
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced onion
  • 1 clove of garlic crushed and minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon basil
  • 1/8 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Cook ground beef with a little water. Add spices, garlic and onion to the beef. Lightly steam chard leaves until slightly soft. Wrap ground beef in chard leaf burrito style. Place wraps in baking dish. Cover with beef broth or marinara recipe and bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Garnish with fresh spices or parsley.

Recipe provided by

Spicy Mustard Shrimp with Chard

chard ready for recipes

If you can muster up the energy for this mustard shrimp and chard recipe, you'll be in for one fine dinner! Estimated nutritional value of 191 calories, 3.5 g fat,, 211 mg cholesterol, 10.3 g carbohydrates, 2.5 g fiber, 31.1 g protein, and 2.9 g sugar.

Prep Time
5 minutes
Cook time
15 minutes
Yield
Makes 1 serving (1 protein, 1 vegetable)

Ingredients

  • 100 grams shrimp
  • 2 cups chard, chopped
  • ½ cup vegetable broth or water
  • 3 tablespoons homemade mustard
  • 2 tablespoons Bragg’s liquid aminos
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Sauté the shrimp with onion, garlic, Bragg’s, vinegar, lemon juice and mustard until cooked. Remove the shrimp and deglaze the pan with the vegetable broth. Add chard to the broth and cook, stirring occasionally until chard is tender. Add a little water if needed. Top with mustard shrimp and enjoy.

Phase 3/Maintenance Modifications
Cook with a little olive oil, sesame oil or walnut oil. Top with 2 tablespoons chopped roasted almonds.

Recipe provided by

Garlic and Onion Spiced Chard

cooking chard

This simple recipe will make your side of chard as exciting and tasty as your main course! Estimated nutritional value of 77 calories, .1 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 16 g carbohydrates, 3.3 g fiber, 6.2 g protein, and 3.8 g sugar.

Prep Time
5 minutes
Cook time
5 minutes
Yield
Makes 1-2 servings (1 vegetable)

Ingredients

  • 4-6 cups swiss or red chard
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup vegetable, chicken broth or water
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice to taste
  • 6 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
In a frying pan, add chard, water, onion, garlic and spices to the water and other liquid ingredients and sauté for 5 minutes or to desired level of doneness. Sprinkle with lemon and salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe provided by

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