Swiss chard is one of the vegetables referred to as leafy greens. Since it belongs to the same family, Swiss chard features a taste that resembles that of beets and spinach. Both the leaves and stalk of Swiss chard are edible. This vegetable’s season usually runs from June until August. Here are several health benefits that you can expect from Swiss chard and some information on how to prepare it.
Swiss chard plays an important role in the maintenance of good bone health. The vitamin K found in cooked Swiss chard is essential in maintaining good bone health. Vitamin K1 works by inhibiting the activity of osteoclasts. Osteoclasts are cells that are responsible for breaking down bones. The good bacteria in your intestines also convert vitamin K1 into vitamin K2 which stimulates osteocalcin, a non-collagen protein that seals in calcium molecules inside the bones.
Rich in Vitamin C
Swiss chard is also one of the vegetables that contains high amounts of the antioxidant vitamin C. In fact, just a cup of cooked Swiss chard already makes up half of your daily vitamin C requirement. As an antioxidant, vitamin C works by preventing the damage that free radicals cause your cells. When free radicals continue to do damage to your DNA, one of the possible results could be cancer. The vitamin C in Swiss chard is particularly helpful in areas of the body that have a fast cellular turnover, such as in your digestive system. This is why a regular helping of Swiss chard and other vitamin C-rich vegetables can help prevent colon cancer. Aside from helping prevent cancer, vitamin C can also protect you from common viruses like colds and ear infections.
Because of its high content of potassium and magnesium, Swiss chard can also help in preventing heart diseases. Potassium helps in regulating your blood pressure and maintaining proper heart function. Swiss chard is also rich in magnesium which is helpful in preventing high blood pressure and protecting you against diseases like atherosclerosis. A study has already proven that adult males whose diets involved foods that are rich in potassium, magnesium and fiber have a reduced risk of experiencing a stroke.
Rich in Iron
Another good reason to start eating Swiss chard is the fact that it is also rich in iron. Along with protein, iron is responsible for manufacturing hemoglobin, a compound that carries oxygen throughout the body. Without the proper function of hemoglobin, your immune system can weaken and you become depleted of energy. Lack of iron can also lead to anemia.
How to Prepare
Now that you know the number of health benefits that you can get from Swiss chard, it’s time to start incorporating it into your diet. You can start by washing your Swiss chard thoroughly. Next, chop up the stalks and leaves, except for the hardest part of the stalk. In a saucepan over medium heat, mix olive oil, sliced garlic and crunched red pepper. Add the chopped Swiss chard after a minute and cook for about ten minutes. If the Swiss chard tends to look dry, try adding a bit of water.