Swiss Chard: Nutrition, Benefits, and How to Cook It

Dark, leafy green vegetables are among the most nutrient-dense foods. The leaves and stalks of Swiss chard, in particular, provide an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and powerful plant compounds.

Although kale is often deemed the king of greens, Swiss chard is equally impressive for its wide array of nutritional benefits.

This article explains everything you need to know about Swiss chard, including its nutrients, health benefits, and potential downsides.

What is Swiss chard?

Swiss chard is a leafy green belonging to the Chenopodioideae family, which also includes beets and spinach (1Trusted Source).

Grown worldwide, it’s prized for its ability to grow in poor soils and its low need for water and light.

Although its name may lead you to believe it originated in Switzerland, Swiss chard is actually native to the Mediterranean (2Trusted Source).

There are many types of Swiss chard, some of which have colorful, jewel-toned stalks and veins that make this vegetable particularly pleasing to the eye.

Just 1 cup (175 grams) of cooked Swiss chard contains (3Trusted Source):

  • Calories: 35
  • Protein: 3.3 grams
  • Carbs: 7 grams
  • Fiber: 3.7 grams
  • Vitamin K: 477% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Vitamin A: 60% of the DV
  • Magnesium: 36% of the DV
  • Vitamin C: 35% of the DV
  • Copper: 32% of the DV
  • Manganese: 25% of the DV
  • Iron: 22% of the DV
  • Vitamin E: 22% of the DV
  • Potassium: 20% of the DV
  • Calcium: 8% of the DV

As you can see, a small serving of cooked Swiss chard covers your daily need for vitamin K and packs a hearty dose of vitamin A, vitamin C, and magnesium.

What’s more, Swiss chard is a good source of iron, copper, potassium, calcium, and vitamin E.

This green is not only loaded with nutrients but also extremely low in calories, so it’s a great option to help you maintain a moderate weight.

SUMMARYSwiss chard is low in calories and high in magnesium, iron, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and K.

Swiss chard health benefits

Swiss chard is high in antioxidants, which protect your body from free radicals that may lead to certain diseases (2Trusted Source).

Swiss chard’s many antioxidants include polyphenols, vitamin C, vitamin E, and carotenoid plant pigments such as beta carotene. These nutrients help protect cells from free radical damage (4Trusted Source).

Consuming a diet high in the antioxidants found in Swiss chard may decrease your chances of developing certain chronic diseases.

For example, in a review of 18 studies, researchers concluded that people with the highest intake of beta carotene had a significantly lower risk of lung cancer than those with the lowest intake (5Trusted Source).

Swiss chard contains several flavonoid antioxidants, including quercetin, kaempferol, rutin, and vitexin.

Kaempferol is a powerful anti-inflammatory compound that may also have anticancer properties.

For instance, a test-tube study found that kaempferol attacked pancreatic cancer cells by inducing cell death and reducing cancer cell growth (6Trusted Source).

Research shows that vitexin, another flavonoid found in Swiss chard, may help prevent heart disease by lowering blood pressure, reducing inflammation, and blocking the formation of blood clots (7Trusted Source).

SUMMARYSwiss chard is high in many antioxidants, including beta carotene and flavonoids, which may help prevent health conditions such as heart disease and lung cancer.

Loaded with fiber

Fiber is an essential nutrient that has many important functions in your body.

For example, it feeds beneficial gut bacteria, promotes regular bowel movements, helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels, and slows digestion to stabilize blood sugar levels (8Trusted Source).

Just 1 cup (175 grams) of cooked Swiss chard provides about 4 grams of fiber.

Health organizations like the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association generally recommend that adults consume at least 25–30 grams of fiber per day from food (9Trusted Source10Trusted Source).

Following a high fiber diet provides many health benefits and could be linked to a lower risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer (11Trusted Source12Trusted Source13Trusted Source14Trusted Source).

Additionally, some studies indicate that people who follow high fiber diets have significantly lower body weight than those on low fiber diets (15Trusted Source).

SUMMARYSwiss chard is high in fiber, an important nutrient that can help maintain your weight, lower your risk of certain cancers, and promote heart health.

Excellent source of vitamin K

Vitamin K is a group of fat-soluble compounds, including vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) and vitamin K2 (menaquinone) (16Trusted Source).

Vitamin K1, which is mostly found in plant sources, is abundant in Swiss chard.

Just 1 cup (175 grams) of cooked Swiss chard offers 477% of the DV for this important nutrient (3Trusted Source).

Vitamin K is involved in many important processes in your body.

For example, it’s required for blood clotting and various cellular functions (17Trusted Source).

It’s also essential for bone health. In fact, your body needs it to form osteocalcin, a protein involved in bone formation and maintenance (18Trusted Source).

Low vitamin K intake is associated with an increased risk of osteoporosis and fractures. On the other hand, people who consume diets high in vitamin K-rich foods have greater bone mineral density and lower rates of osteoporosis (19Trusted Source).

SUMMARYSwiss chard is an excellent source of vitamin K, a nutrient essential for proper blood clotting and bone health.

Heart health benefits

There’s no doubt that eating more fresh produce is good for your heart.

Consuming a diet rich in a wide variety of vegetables and fruits has been shown to lower heart disease risk factors such as inflammation, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure (20Trusted Source).

Swiss chard is an excellent source of potassium and magnesium, both of which can help maintain healthy blood pressure levels (21Trusted Source).

The fiber found in Swiss chard may lower cholesterol levels by reducing your liver’s cholesterol production and helping your body excrete extra cholesterol before it is absorbed into your bloodstream (22Trusted Source).

Many large studies indicate that people with a higher intake of green leafy vegetables like Swiss chard have a decreased risk of heart disease.

One study in more than 173,000 people linked every 1-serving increment of leafy green vegetables per day to an 11% reduction in heart disease risk.

What’s more, those with the highest intake — 1.5 servings per day — of leafy greens like Swiss chard were 17% less likely to develop heart disease than those with the lowest intake (23Trusted Source).

SUMMARYSwiss chard may help lower high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, which are risk factors for heart disease.

May decrease insulin resistance and blood sugar

Swiss chard is loaded with nutrients that may lower blood sugar levels, including fiber.

High fiber foods help slow down digestion. This reduces the rate at which sugar is absorbed into your bloodstream and therefore helps stabilize blood sugar levels (11Trusted Source).

Fiber also helps reduce insulin resistance, a condition in which cells stop responding to insulin (24Trusted Source).

Insulin resistance is associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity (25Trusted Source26Trusted Source).

Some research shows that, in addition to promoting better blood sugar regulation, enjoying more fiber-rich vegetables such as Swiss chard could be linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes (27Trusted Source).

Plus, Swiss chard is high in antioxidants such as alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), which has been shown to reduce insulin resistance and improve diabetes-related complications, including nerve damage (28Trusted Source).

A review of 23 studies concluded that people with the highest intake of green leafy vegetables had a 13% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those with the lowest intake (27Trusted Source).

SUMMARYSwiss chard is high in fiber and antioxidants, which may improve blood sugar regulation and lower your risk of diabetes.

May promote weight loss

Following a healthy diet that includes nutrient-dense foods like Swiss chard may help you lose weight and keep it off for good.

Filling up on high fiber vegetables like Swiss chard can increase fullness after meals, which could reduce the risk of overeating.

In a 2014 study in 120 adults with overweight, those who consumed more vegetables experienced significantly greater weight loss and hunger satisfaction (29Trusted Source).

Additionally, people who eat more vegetables tend to weigh less than those who don’t.

For example, one review of 17 studies with more than 560,000 total participants noted that those with the highest intake of vegetables were 17% less likely to have overweight or obesity (30Trusted Source).

Alongside its fiber content, Swiss chard has only 35 calories per cooked cup (175 grams) (3Trusted Source).

Adding this low calorie, nutrient-dense green to your diet may be beneficial if you’re trying to maintain a moderate weight.

SUMMARYSwiss chard is high in fiber and low in calories, making it a great addition to a healthy diet for weight loss.

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