If you’ve meandered through the produce isle, then you may have seen a rather large, leafy green with brightly colored stems. But the name may not jump out a you. Swiss Chard? Even if this leafy green isn’t new to you, the number of Swiss chard health benefits may surprise.
So what kind of leafy green are we talking about? Well, Swiss chard belongs to the same family as beets, spinach, and quinoa. Right away, you can tell it’s going to be a powerhouse. This highly nutrient-dense vegetable is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. For example, just one cup of cooked Swiss chard contains 572 mg of Vitamin K, 206 mg of Vitamin A, 150 mg of magnesium, and 961 mg of potassium, among other nutrients. Swiss chard health benefits include the ability to fight inflammation, protect the heart, improve digestion, and much more. Check it out!
Swiss Chard Health Benefits
1. Provide the Body With Antioxidants
First, Swiss chard health benefits include the ability to provide the body with disease-fighting antioxidants. Actually, very few vegetables can top it. It contains up to 13 different types of polyphenol antioxidants that help reduce free radical damage and slow aging. Research has shown that the anti-aging antioxidants in Swiss chard can also help prevent cancer, heart disease, and neurodegenerative disorders. (1)
2. Protects Heart Health
Thanks to the antioxidants it contains, Swiss chard may also protect heart health. As an anti-hypertensive vegetable, Swiss chard can help improve circulation, blood vessel health, and heart beat regulation. Magnesium, potassium, copper, iron, and calcium all play a role in blood cell formation, blood vessel constriction, nerve signaling and blood pressure levels. Adding Swiss chard to your diet can help prevent high blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. (2, 3)
3. Fights Cancer
Cancer-fighting foods like Swiss chard have the ability to inhibit the proliferation of human cancer cells. The powerful antioxidants in Swiss chard work to fight cancer by strengthening the immune system and preventing free radical damage. For example, research has shown that the nutrients in Swiss chard can help stop the growth of cancer cells from breast, colon, ovarian, prostate, lung, and endometrial tumors. (4)
4. Helps Prevent Diabetes
Swiss chard health benefits include the ability to prevent diabetes by naturally regulating blood sugar levels. For one, the flavonoids in Swiss chard help inhibit the activity of an enzyme that breaks down carbohydrates into simple sugars. This leads to steadier blood sugar levels. Also, Swiss chard contains fiber, which works to prevent dips and spikes in blood sugar. Furthermore, studies suggest that adding Swiss chard to your diet can help prevent or even reverse diabetes. (5)
5. Maintains Bone Health
Here in this article, we are citing research that supports Swiss chard health benefits. In fact, we agree that chard helps to maintain healthy bones. But how can this be? Many websites caution against eating Swiss chard for bone health, saying the oxalates (oxalic acid) prevent calcium absorption. Well, by gently sauteing or steaming, you can remove most of the oxalates while keeping the calcium. (6)
In addition, chard contains Vitamins A and K, as well as calcium, fiber, and B vitamins. Vitamin K, in particular, is important to bone formation. Add in the calcium to maintain bone strength and mineral density. The nutrients in Swiss chard can help prevent fractures and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. (7)
6. Improves Digestion
Swiss chard health benefits include the ability to improve digestion. The vegetable contains phytonutrient betalains that help support detoxification. Betalains also reduce inflammation in the gut. And the fiber in Swiss chard also aids in digestion. High-fiber foods can help prevent digestive problems like constipation and diarrhea. (8)
7. Helps Maintain Healthy Brain Function
Swiss chard health benefits include healthy brain function. For example, studies have shown that a diet high in vegetables–particularly leafy green vegetables that contain betalains–can help protect the brain from neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Betalains and other antioxidants work to reduce free radicals and protect DNA from damage. (9, 10)
8. Protects Eye Health
Swiss chard benefits include the ability to protect eye health. Swiss chard is rich in carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin which help maintain healthy vision and prevent eye disorders. Don’t let that lush green color fool you. Underneath the green pigment you’ll find the yellows, reds, and oranges of the carotenoids. These compounds help defend the eyes from age-related disorders like macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts. (10)
9. Benefits Nerve and Muscle Function
Swiss chard health benefits include improved nerve and muscle function. This vegetable provides the body with minerals like magnesium, potassium, and calcium. These minerals play an important role in muscle health and nervous system health. But as noted above, chard also contains betalains, which are also important for muscle function. Adding Swiss chard to your diet can help prevent a magnesium deficiency, along with nervous system symptoms that are related to stress, like mood swings, insomnia, high blood pressure and headaches. (11, 12)
While our list shows just nine reasons to love Swiss chard, this brightly colored leafy green certainly offers other benefits. Give it a try!