7 Amazing Benefits of Swiss Chard

The health benefits of swiss chard are amazing, and include the ability to regulate blood sugar levels, prevent various types of cancer, improve digestion, boost the immune system, reduce fever and combat inflammation, lower blood pressure, prevent heart disease, increase bone strength and development, detoxify the body, and strengthen the functioning of the brain.

Swiss Chard Leafy Greens

Swiss chard is a leafy green vegetable that is scientifically classified as Beta vulgaris subsp. cicla, and it belongs to the family Chenopodiaceae. Swiss chard is actually a common name, but in reality, you can simply call the vegetable ‘chard’. However, for our purposes, we will continue to refer to it as Swiss chard. It is closely related to beets, and actually has the same scientific classification, but beets are usually cultivated for the roots, while Swiss chard is grown for its leaves.

Swiss chard has been around cultural diets for many centuries, probably for as long as beets, which go back thousands of years. However, since the two subspecies are so similar, it is difficult to trace the exact lineage or native region of swiss chard. However, it is grown most commonly and easily in the Norther Hemisphere, and is very popular as an ingredient for Mediterranean cooks. The first documented use of chard in cooking was in Sicily.

Swiss chard is usually eaten raw in salads, cooked, or sauteed. The bitterness of the raw leaves dissipates when cooked, leaving a soft, delicious flavor, more subtle than spinach, which chard is often mistaken for.  But why so much focus on this leafy vegetable, when spinach is more readily available, and provides a number of health benefits? Let’s find out what nutritional content is in swiss chard that makes it so valuable as a dietary staple!

Nutritional Value of Swiss Chard

The many health benefits attributed to chard are due to its impressive list of vitamins, nutrients, and organic compounds, which include vitamin K, vitamin C, and vitamin A, as well as vitamin E, riboflavin, and vitamin B6. In terms of minerals, Swiss chard has a wealth of magnesium, manganese, potassium, iron, sodium, and copper. Furthermore, in addition to dietary fiber, Swiss chard has a significant amount of polyphenolic antioxidants, phytonutrients, and enzymes that are unique and highly beneficial to your health.

Health Benefits of Swiss Chard

Manage Diabetes

Perhaps one of the most important benefits of Swiss chard is its ability to regulate the blood sugar levels in our body. Syringic acid is one of the unique flavonoids found in Swiss chard, and it has a very unusual ability. It inhibits the activity of a specific enzyme named alpha-glucosidase. This means that less cards are broken down to simple sugars, which allows the blood sugar levels in the body to remain stable, and prevent the plunges and peaks that are so dangerous for diabetic patients, or for those people who are at a high risk of developing diabetes.

Swiss chard

Bone Health

Swiss chard has a significant amount of calcium in those leaves, which means that Swiss chard is a major boost for bone health. Calcium, as well as the other minerals found in this vegetable help to stimulate bone growth and development, including magnesium and vitamin K.

Brain Booster

Swiss chard is a valuable source of both potassium and vitamin K, both of which are found in significant amounts in the brain, and are integral parts of boosting cognitive development and abilities. Add some Swiss chard to your diet and expand your mind!

Blood Circulation

Iron and copper are both essential elements of red blood cells, and without those two minerals, people can develop anemia, which shows itself as weakness, fatigue, stomach disorders, and lack of concentration. By ensuring a proper amount of red blood cells by eating food like Swiss chard, you can increase circulation of the blood and oxygenation of essential organs within the body.

Blood Pressure and Heart Health

The anti-inflammatory and phytonutrient antioxidants found in Swiss chard, along with potassium, all contribute to reducing blood pressure and stress on the cardiovascular system. Some hypertension is due to pro-inflammatory enzymes within the body, which the organic compounds in Swiss chard are able to neutralize. Therefore, Swiss chard protects those who eat it from a variety of conditions like atherosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes.

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Eye Care

Swiss chard has a huge amount of beta-carotene, which has been linked in many ways to optimal eye health and a reduction in macular degeneration, glaucoma, night blindness, and other vision-related conditions.

Healthy Hair

Biotin is an organic compound that has been directly linked to healthy hair, the stimulation of follicles, and as a way to increase luster and texture. Swiss chard also has significant amounts of biotin, among its many other beneficial compounds.

Cancer Prevention

Like many leafy, green vegetables, swiss chard has anti-cancer properties due to the huge amounts of antioxidants found in it. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, which are the dangerous byproducts of cellular metabolism that can cause healthy cells to become cancerous. Swiss chard contains significant amounts of vitamin E, C, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, kaempferol, beta-carotene, and quercetin. Many of these have been connected to preventing a wide variety of cancers, specifically colon cancer.

References
  1. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.phymed.2006.03.006
  2. http://pub.jki.bund.de/index.php/JABFQ/article/view/2114
  3. https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/bbb/68/8/68_8_1640/_article
  4. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pca.1276/abstract
  5. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814609004658
  6. http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4614-3458-0_1
  7. http://books.google.com/books?id=10rtcRtcCYYC
  8. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/37/2/185.short

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