Found in food stores throughout Europe, chard or Swiss chard, has many health benefits. Bizarrely, it is still often overlooked by consumers despite it being rich in fibre and anti-oxidants, such as beta-carotene and chlorophyll, and minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium. Moreover, it is good for your heart, pancreas and your bones.
HOW TO CHOOSE IT?
Available from June to September, you can find it on market stalls, in green grocers or in organic stores. There are several types of chard; the most common being the white and green chard. The leaves should be of an intense and uniform green. To preserve them, put them in the vegetable cupboard rather than in the refrigerator. A little tip from your nutritionist, separate the leaves from the stems, they will keep much better.
ITS NUTRITIONAL ADVANTAGES:
It helps to lower blood pressure
Vegetables rich in dietary nitrates help reduce blood pressure, inhibit platelet aggregation and help improve vascular cell dysfunction. These activities are enhanced by its richness in calcium, magnesium and potassium, minerals involved in the regulation of blood pressure.
It regulates blood sugar
The presence of an anti-oxidant called alpha-lipoic acid has the capacity to lower blood sugar, increase insulin sensitivity and prevent changes caused by oxidative stress in diabetic patients. It is also thought that alpha lipoic helps protects the liver, although studies have yet to conclusively prove this.
It is good for bones
Chard is a very good source of vitamin K. A good vitamin K intake improves the health of your bones, improving calcium absorption and reducing the amount that is eliminated through the urinary excretion.
It’s good for Mom and her future baby
Like other green leafy vegetables, chard is also rich in vitamin B9 (folate), a vitamin that is extremely important in the growth of your baby. This vitamin allows the proper development of cell division and is essential to the closure of your child’s neural tube i.e. to the proper formation of the baby’s nervous system.
It improves intestinal transit
Fibres found in beet contain a natural regulating effect on the intestinal transit, helping to fight against constipation. Moreover, the fibres have a prebiotic effect, nourishing the good intestinal bacteria, in other words, the entire microbiota. This is significantly beneficial to us as scientific studies clearly demonstrate the importance of microbiota in the general state of our health.
HOW TO EAT IT?
Chard can be eaten raw or cooked. If eaten raw, as in a salad, it keeps all its nutritional benefits while when it is cooked, you get to enjoy its soft texture and sweet flavours. You don’t have to worry too much about it being cooked,- it’ll still keeps a good proportion of vitamins and minerals. Removing its leaves carefully, it can be used in a gratin béchamel, a creamy soup, a quiche and cooked in many ways (the oven, or steamed, or microwaved, whichever way you like really).