The Mediterranean diet is one of the world’s healthiest, thanks in part to the amount of green vegetables it contains — including Swiss chard. Red, pink, purple, yellow and white chard are close relatives of beet greens.
When you compare foods calorie for calorie, Swiss chard is a nutritional powerhouse: it has more vitamin A than squash, more vitamin C than citrus and more vitamin E than avocado! Chard also provides essential alkaline minerals, which are needed to balance acid-forming foods such as animal products.
Here are five more reasons to pick up Swiss chard at the farmers’ market:
1. Swiss chard can help lower cholesterol: Swiss chard contains betalains, which are also found in beets. Betalains are well known to have powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification properties, but there is also current research that indicates these leafy greens can actually lower LDL cholesterol levels.
2. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory: Swiss chard contains high amounts of vitamin K, which reduces cytokines, the chemicals your body releases when it is in a state of inflammation.
3. This green can help prevent hypothyroidism: One cup of Swiss chard contains over 100 percent of your daily requirements of vitamin A. Vitamin A aids in the prevention and treatment of hypothyroidism by improving the rate of iodine absorption. Iodine is necessary for the creation of thyroid hormones and the maintenance of a healthy metabolism.
4. Boost your magnesium with Swiss chard: Magnesium is used as a preventative measure for chronic asthma and has been shown to reduce hospital visits for asthma attacks. Maintaining adequate magnesium can also prevent the onset of headaches and help your body manage stress better.
5. Swiss chard supports healthy liver function: Swiss chard contains a flavonoid called syringic acid, which prevents liver degeneration and lowers liver enzymes in the blood. This makes Swiss chard the perfect tonic after a night of indulgence — or have it every day to improve overall liver function!
Swiss chard dolmades
This recipe is an adaption of Ezra Title’s version, from our show Healthy Gourmet.
½ cup ricotta cheese (low fat), crumbled
¼ cup black olives, pitted and halved
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
1 lemon, juiced
1 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
6 medium Swiss chard leaves, blanched
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
pinch sea salt (optional)
1. Cut Swiss chard leaves into six squares, approximately six inches squared.
2. In a shallow pot, bring two cups of water to a gentle boil. Using a slotted spoon or spatula, dip one square at a time in the boiling water for 15 seconds. In a medium bowl, place the freshly blanched Swiss chard into cold water to stop the cooking process. Repeat with other leaves. Let cool.
3. Place a leaf square on a work surface and layer in ½ tablespoon of cheese, a few olives, 2 tbsp of tomato, a sprinkle of pine nuts and one or two basil leaves on top. Squeeze fresh lemon juice on top of mixture.
4. To create dolmades, first fold in the sides of the chard, then roll the leaf up until sealed.
Makes six rolls
Do you have any great recipes with Swiss chard that you can share?
Nutritionist Julie Daniluk hosts Healthy Gourmet, a reality cooking show that looks at the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition. Her soon-to-be-published first book, Meals That Heal Inflammation, advises on allergy-free foods that both taste great and assist the body in the healing process.
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