Swiss chard, so much beauty in one plant
Botanical name: Beta vulgaris Family: Amaranthaceae
Swiss chard has dark green leafy greens, while its stalks grow in an array of bright colors ranging from red to yellow and white. Lucullus and Fordhook Giant have green forms, while Ruby Chard and Rhubarb Chard are red-ribbed. Rainbow chard, which grows in a multitude of colorful stalks, is often mistaken for a variety itself.
Although commonly known as Swiss chard, it’s actually not native to Switzerland and is widely grown in the Mediterranean. It’s believed that chard got its name from another veggie called cardoon, which closely resembles chard. The French got confused and mixed up the two, dubbing it ‘carde’.
Chard is a biennial plant and is sown between June and October in the Northern Hemisphere. The harvest period is in the spring, anywhere from April to May. Once temperatures begin to creep up to 30°C, then the harvest season nears its end.
Due to its many health benefits Swiss chard was chosen years ago to be grown on space stations for the consumption by astronauts. Even ancient Greek and Roman communities frequently grew and ate chard centuries ago, as they were tuned into its medicinal benefits.
Swiss chard is a recommended source of vitamin K, vitamin A and flavonoid antioxidants like beta carotene, quercetin, lutein and zeaxanthin. Chard is known to contain at least 13 different types of polyphenol antioxidants, one of which is syringic acid. Syringic acid helps with regulating blood sugar levels, which has made it an object of research studies over the past years. Chard is also a great source of betalains, which are water-soluble plant pigments that exert beneficial biological activities, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
Swiss chard can be used in place of bread to make sandwich wraps and is also delicious sautéed with olive oil, onions and garlic, or added to omelettes and soups.