Chard: nutrition facts and health benefits

Chard

The chard, bette, or Swiss chard, is a trained garden plant very large leaves smooth or dimpled, ranging from green to red wine. They have a petiole (the coast or the card) large and fleshy, white, green or yellow. This vegetable is from the same family as beets. Their common ancestor is the maritime bette, growing in the wild on the sides of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.

History of the chard

The Celts have domesticated it 2,000 years before Christ. There is also the first traces in the gardens of Babylon (south of the current Iraq) and in the temple of Delphi in Greece and, later, to the 7th century, in India and China. In France, Charlemagne, who loved this vegetable, planted them in gardens. The chard was very present in the medieval kitchen. With the leek, it was the base of a soup of vegetables and herbs, poiree or Cates. The bette also kept this name of “poiree” in some areas. In others, it is called “joutte”. The chard is still little known in North America.

Leaves of chard ribs and the stems can be red, white or yellow. These stems are fleshy as of the celery and poised like asparagus.

In Europe, we find mention of its uses in the older literature on food of plant origin. In the 16th century, a Swiss botanist described a yellow stems form, which completes the list of forms known at the time (red and white). Despite this, the Swiss chard, white has always dominated the others, which are popular in the circles of gardeners and cooks.

This vegetable is still relatively unknown in North America, except in the South, where one appreciates its leaves. The Swiss chard is cooked in Europe mainly for its stalks. Its leaves are often laid, although this is the most nutritious part of the plant.

The Swiss chard health profile

The Swiss chard is a leafy vegetable that we consume as well the stem than leaves, raw or cooked. It contains many minerals and vitamins.

The benefits of the Swiss chard

Several epidemiological studies have shown that a high fruit and vegetable consumption reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease, some cancers and other chronic disease. The presence of antioxidants in vegetables and fruits could play a role in this protection.

Studies in vitro and on animals conducted with excerpts from chard. Here are the main results. Include further research to be undertaken to determine if these effects would also be left among humans.

Type 2 diabetes. The Swiss chard is traditionally used, particularly in Turkey, to address diabetes. Studies have shown that consumption of excerpts from chard improving control of diabetes among animals by increasing the secretion of insuline from the cells of the pancreas. Extraction of chard also provided coverage of the kidneys, heart and liver damage associated with diabete.

Cancer. Certain compounds present in the Swiss chard (of flavonoids) demonstrated in-vitro inhibitory effect on proliferation of cancerous cells among humans.

Neurodegenerative diseases. A study in vitro showed an extract from Swiss chard could prevent the onset of diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. The compounds contained in the extract from Swiss chard would have the power to inhibit the enzyme acetylcholinesterase, a strategy used for the treatment of several neurodegenerative diseases.

What is the Swiss chard?

Antioxidants

The Swiss chard contains phenolic compounds, especially acids phenolics and flavonoids, such as syringique and cafeique acids and the kaempferol. According to a study in vitro are these compounds which give the Swiss chard a large part of his antioxydant ability. Antioxidants protect the cells of the body damage caused by free radicals, molecules involved in the onset of cardiovascular disease, some cancers and other diseases related to aging.

For a maximum antioxidant capacity

Red chard would possess greater antioxidant activity than the white one. Its leaves contain more antioxidant  than its stem.

The cooking of Swiss chard, in the oven, in the microwave or boiled, would not influence its antioxidant ability, but pressure cooking and frying could decrease it from 14% to 19%.

The Swiss chard also contains of betalains, including the betaxanthin and betacyanin, antioxidant pigments that give its red color. A study showed that consumption of betalains from the pear cactus (or prickly pear), delay oxidation of the ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL), a cardiovascular risk factor. The betalains in the cactus pear could also enter red blood cells and help protect them against oxydative stress. Though it is unclear if the betalains in the Swiss chard have the same properties, and what has been observed in vitro can be transposed in the human body.

Precautions

Vitamin K and blood thinners. The Swiss chard contains a high amount of vitamin K. This vitamin, necessary among other things to the clotting of blood, can be manufactured by the body in addition to being in some foods. People taking anticoagulant medications (e.g., Coumadin, Warfilone and Sintrom) should adopt a diet whose content in vitamin K is relatively stable from one day to the other. If the Swiss chard is consumed, the portion should not exceed 125 ml (1/2 cup) If raw, or about 1/4 cup if it is cooked. It is strongly recommended to people under anticoagulation to consult a dietitian-nutritionist or doctor to know the food sources of vitamin K and to ensure a more stable possible daily intake.
Urinary calculations. People at risk of urinary terminology (kidney stones or stones to reinsconstituees oxalate and calcium) should restrict their consumption of foods rich in oxalate. The oxalates are compounds found naturally in many foods, including the Swiss chard. It is therefore considered prudent for these people to avoid consuming.

Selection and conservation

Keep

Refrigerator. 2-3 days in a bag perforated, without washing. The stems will keep longer if they are separated from the leaves.

Freezer. Leaves freeze well whole after 2 minutes have been blanched and cooled with ice water. Before freezing, remove the stems, because they have a nice little texture after freezing.

Organic gardening

Sow in the spring of 10 to 15 seeds to the 15 cm. Brighten gradually so as to obtain a final distance of 20 cm to 25 cm. Use in the kitchen of the seedlings that you eliminated.

Irrigate as needed, especially in the heat. So, it may be appropriate to protect the plants by using a shade that cuts 49% of the sunlight.

Fertilize with manure or compost.

For the harvest, are collected the leaves and outer stems as needed.

Ecology and environment

In some circles of horticultural, avail themselves of the leaves of chard chard to prepare a tisanedestinee to fortify the plants which develop badly, or whose growth slowed. We spend the leaves in a blender with very hot water, filtered and spray small patients. Solid residues can also serve as mulch to enrich them at the foot of the plants.

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