13 Oct 2023
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Chard is one of your leafy greens
How much? Higher intake of green leafy vegetables ranged from one serving (about 80g) to 200 grams per day.
To our plates, chard contributes:
Lab studies suggest that these compounds may help…
Don’t forget the stems: Swiss chard stems are high in potassium, while the leaves have the highest content of fibre, magnesium, flavonoids and vitamin C.
Add diversity to your plate: Eating a variety of green leafy vegetables is recommended in our daily diets. Chard can add some diversity to your greens this season, beyond the usual spinach and kale. One portion is 1 cereal or dessert bowl.
A Journey from the sea: Intriguingly, Swiss chard traces its ancestry back to the wild sea beet (Beta vulgaris ssp. maritime), a plant that is native to the coasts from Morocco to the North Sea and the Mediterranean region. The domestication history is not yet fully resolved as it’s not clear whether it goes back to a single attempt to take the sea beet into cultivation.
Why “Swiss”? Despite its name, this vibrant leafy green didn’t find its roots in Switzerland. The origin of the adjective “Swiss” is unclear. Some attribute the name to 19th-century Dutch seed merchants who added the word ‘Swiss’ to differentiate the plant from French spinach varieties.
Beet’s unusual cousin: Although chard belongs to the same botanical family as beetroot, it surprises by not producing an edible root. Instead, it’s grown for its leaves and leafstalks. The common names that cooks and cultures have used may get a bit confusing - it goes by Swiss chard, perpetual spinach, spinach beet, leaf beet or seakettle beet.
A rainbow palette: The most common type is Swiss chard but some cultivars, often marketed as rainbow chard, have colourful stalks that are particularly eye-catching. They can be red, orange, yellow or pale green.
Buying: Chard grows quickly and easily during the cooler months of spring and fall and is harvested before the first frost. It’s favoured by small farms and difficult to ship to distant markets, which means local options are abundant, either through farmers’ markets, community supported agriculture farms (CSA) or seasonal veg boxes.
Around the world
Why we like chard: Swiss chard’s charm lies is in its nuanced flavours—a gentle bitterness when raw that dissipates into a mild earthy sweetness when cooked. It offers 2 veggies in 1 as the stalks and leaves can be used in cooking. While it’s slightly less popular, chard is milder than kale yet bolder than spinach, enhancing dishes without overpowering other ingredients. We think it’s a must-have addition to any kitchen repertoire.
How we like chard…
A few recipes for the week ahead:
Compounds & mechanisms: Gamba et al. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition. 2021