Swiss chard is a green, tall leafy vegetable which is a nutritional powerhouse. It was identified by a Swiss botanist and is a variety of Beta vulgaris. This vegetable belongs to the family of beets and spinach. It is an attractive vegetable on your plate, and also pleasing to the palate. Swiss chard originated from the Mediterranean region. It got its common name from Cardoon, which is celery like Mediterranean vegetable.
The ancient Greeks and Romans honored Swiss chard for its medicinal properties. Regular consumption of Swiss chard has been found to help prevent iron deficiency anemia, osteoporosis, and vitamin A deficiency. It is also believed to protect from a range of diseases including colon and prostrate cancers and cardiovascular diseases.
Nutritional Value of Swiss Chard
This vegetable is packed with important nutrients that your body needs to excel. It is an excellent source of calcium, copper, potassium, iron, magnesium, and zinc. It is a good source of protein, choline, dietary fiber as well as selenium, folate, vitamins A, C, E, K, and B-complex group of vitamins, It concentrated with several phytonutrients that have disease prevention and health promoting properties.
Potential Benefits To Your Diet
It is very low in calories and fats and is recommended in weight reduction and cholesterol controlling programs.
Bone health benefits
This vegetable is one of the richest sources of calcium, magnesium and vitamin K. It provides about 700 per cent of the recommended intake per 100 grams. Calcium, magnesium and vitamin K play an important role in bone formation and strengthening activities. Vitamin K also aids in preventing over activation of osteoclasts. These are the cells that break done bones. Vitamin K1 is converted in the intestines by a friendly bacteria into vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 activates osteocalcin, the main collagen protein in bones. Osteocalcin is essential in anchoring calcium molecules inside the bones.
Medical studies have also shown that dietary intake of adequate vitamin K helps limit neuronal damage in the brain. It plays an important role in the treatment of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
Swiss chard is an excellent source of minerals zinc, and manganese, and vitamins E, C and A, powerful antioxidants. It provides 33 per cent of the recommended levels per 100 grams. Vitamin C is a powerful water soluble antioxidant that helps eliminate free radicals and reactive oxygen species from the body through its reduction potential properties. Regular consumption of vitamin C has also been shown to help maintain normal connective tissue, boost the immune system and prevent Iron deficiency. It is also a rich source of phytonutrient antioxidants such as lutein, a-carotene, beta-carotene, zea-xanthin and flavonoids such as kaempferaol and quercetin . The carotenes are converted to vitamin A in the body.
These phytonutrient antioxidants also act as anti-inflammatory agents, and at times lower the risk of chronic and unwelcome inflammations by changing the activity of pro- inflammatory enzymes and pro-inflammatory messaging molecules. Chronic low level inflammation has been shown to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis and several types of arthritis. Swiss chard is likely to prove a key vegetable in reducing the risk of the diseases.
Swiss chard is rich source of minerals like iron, potassium, phosphorous, copper, calcium, magnesium and manganese. Potassium is an essential component of cell and body fluids and helps in controlling blood pressure and heart rate by countering the effects of sodium. Iron is important or cellular oxidation and red blood formation. Manganese is utilized in the body as a co factor for the superoxide dismutase, an antioxidant enzyme.
Blood sugar benefits
This vegetable has been shown to have unique advantages for blood sugar regulation. It can provide special benefits to patients diagnosed with diabetes. Studies indicate that syringic acid, one of its leading flavonoids, has the ability to inhibit alpha glucosidase, an enzyme used in the conversion of carbohydrates into simple sugar. Inhibiting this enzyme stabilizes sugar levels because few carbohydrates get broken down.
It is a very good source of the B-complex group of vitamins like vitamin B6, folate, thiamin, niacin, and pantothenic acid that play a critical role in optimum cellular metabolic functions.
Swiss chard is an attractive, tasty and very nutritional vegetable you will want to include in your more in your diet. Go for leaves that are vivid green in color without any appearance of yellowing or browning. Check to ensure that the leaves are not wilted or having tiny holes. It is great to experiment in the kitchen, and with plenty of Swiss chard recipes available, the number of ways that you can prepare this vegetable are endless. This is one leafy veggie that can be enjoyed cooked as well as juiced. It does a wonderful job of enhancing any kind of green juice recipe. There are several ways to incorporate this into your daily routine which can have a tremendous impact on your health in the long run.