Swiss chard, a health-packed vegetable similar to spinach. Why liven up your menu with it?

When we think of leafy greens, most of us think of lettuce.

But we can also meet other representatives in shops and gardens.

One of the increasingly popular ones is Swiss chard.

That you haven’t heard of him yet?

It surprises not only with its delicious taste, but also with a high content of many vitamins and minerals.

Its diverse color variants are a revival for many dishes.

Discover the secret of chard with us!

What is chard?

Swiss chard is, like spinach, lettuce, rocket or chicory, a representative of leafy vegetables. Although it looks most similar to spinach, from a botanical point of view it is closest to beets. Together, they belong to the same genus of the family of lovage plants. Although only the chard leaves are usually eaten, the root is also edible.

With Swiss chard, Latin beta vulgaris var. cycle can be found in many different color varieties, depending on the overall appearance of the plant, two types are usually distinguished:

  • Swiss chard – has smooth or curly leaves with narrow petioles, looks like spinach

  • Swiss chard – has leaves with massive thickened petioles, looks like Peking cabbage

In addition to the name Swiss chard, this vegetable is popularly known by a number of other names, for example Roman or Egyptian spinach, or Roman cabbage.

Swiss chard resembling Peking cabbage.

What does chard look like?

The specific appearance of chard, more precisely the color of its leaves or petioles, depends on the variety. In general, these are plants with a lush rosette of leaves that grow to a height of around 50 cm. Their leaves are elongated, shiny, sometimes smooth, sometimes curled.

The coloring of the leaves can be very variable, the leaves can be not only in different shades of green, but also purple or yellow-green. Petioles and leaf veins can also have various colors, from white to yellow and orange to red or burgundy.

Yellow and red varieties of Swiss chard.

How does chard taste?

Swiss chard leaves are processed in the kitchen in a similar way to spinach. However, its taste is different, softer and to many people slightly reminiscent of nuts. This is due to the fact that chard leaves contain less oxalic acid.

The thick stalks of Swiss chard resemble asparagus. If you decide to try chard root, expect a taste similar to a combination of beetroot and kohlrabi. Be prepared that the root is often very hard and woody.

Nutritional values, vitamins and minerals in chard

Chard is very rich in various nutrients, especially beneficial plant compounds, vitamins and minerals. In addition, it is very low in calories. It is interesting to compare Swiss chard with other common types of leafy vegetables.

100 g
100 g
Lettuce 100 g Arugula
100 g
100 g
Energy 19 calories 23 kcal 14 calories 25 calories 23 kcal
Water 92.7 g 91.4 g 95.6 g 91.7 g 93.1 g
Carbohydrates 3.74 g 3.63 g 2.97 g 3.65 g 4.48 g
Proteins 1.8 g 2.86 g 0.9 g 2.58 g 1.43 g
Fats 0.2 g 0.39 g 0.14 g 0.66 g 0.25 g
Fiber 1.6 g 2.2 g 1.2 g 1.6 g 0.9 g

Among the minerals, it stands out above all for its high content of calcium, iron and magnesium. As for vitamins, it is rich in the whole range of B vitamins, beta-carotene and vitamin C.

100 g
100 g
Lettuce 100 g Arugula
100 g
100 g
Betakatoren 3650 μg 5630 μg 299 μg 1420 μg 16 μg
Vitamin B1 0.04 mg 0.078 mg 0.041 mg 0.044 mg 0.016 mg
Vitamin B2 0.09 mg 0.189 mg 0.025 mg 0.086 mg 0.028 mg
Vitamin B3 0.4 mg 0.724 mg 0.123 mg 0.305 mg 0.255 mg
Vitamin B5 0.172 mg 0.065 mg 0.091 mg 0.437 mg 0.269 mg
Vitamin B6 0.099 mg 0.195 mg 0.042 mg 0.073 mg 0.057 mg
Vitamin C 30 mg 28.1 mg 2.8 mg 15 mg 8 mg
Potassium 379 mg 558 mg 141 mg 369 mg 302 mg
Phosphorus 46 mg 49 mg 20 mg 52 mg 40 mg
Magnesium 81 mg 79 mg 7 mg 47 mg 13 mg
Sodium 213 mg 79 mg 10 mg 27 mg 22 mg
Calcium 51 mg 99 mg 18 mg 160 mg 19 mg
Zinc 0.36 mg 0.53 mg 0.15 mg 0.47 mg 0.62 mg
Iron 1.8 mg 2.71 mg 0.41 mg 1.46 mg 0.57 mg

What is chard good for?

Due to the content of many health-promoting substances, the consumption of chard is recommended, for example, to strengthen the immune system and, thanks to the high iron content, also for people who suffer from anemia. What other benefits does chard bring to our body?

  • Digestive system – fiber is an essential nutrient that has many important functions in the body. For example, it nourishes beneficial intestinal bacteria, promotes regular stools and helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Just one cup of cooked Swiss chard provides about 4 grams of fiber.

  • Blood sugar regulation – foods high in fiber help slow down digestion. This reduces the rate at which sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream and therefore helps stabilize blood sugar levels. Fiber also helps reduce insulin resistance, a condition where cells stop responding to insulin. Insulin resistance is associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

  • Antioxidants – Swiss chard has a high content of antioxidants that protect the body from free radicals that can lead to certain diseases. It contains several flavonoid antioxidants, including quercetin, kaempferol, rutin and vitexin. Kaempferol is a powerful anti-inflammatory compound that may also have anti-cancer effects. The study found that kaempferol acts on pancreatic cancer cells by inducing cell death and reducing cancer cell growth.

  • Cardiovascular disease – research shows that vitexin, another flavonoid found in chard, may help prevent heart disease by lowering blood pressure, reducing inflammation, and blocking blood clots. Swiss chard is also an excellent source of potassium and magnesium, which help maintain healthy blood pressure levels.

  • Weight management – eating high-fibre vegetables such as Swiss chard can increase the feeling of fullness after a meal, which can reduce the risk of overeating. Adding this low-calorie, nutrient-dense green vegetable to your diet can be beneficial if you’re trying to keep your weight off.
Colorful chard stems in a jar and before that with leaves in a flower bed.

Swiss chard in the kitchen

In general, it can be said that chard has a similar use in the kitchen as spinach, and chard can be used instead of asparagus. You can use it in cold and hot kitchens. Before processing, it is necessary to wash the Swiss chard gently but thoroughly.

When cooking, keep in mind not only that the chard stalks need more time than the leaves, but also that the longer you cook the chard, the grayer it becomes. For this reason, it is often recommended to first blanch the chard leaves, i.e. quickly boil and cool them, similar to what we do in the case of cabbage, for example.

How to prepare chard?

  • Simply put, once you see some recipes with spinach , you can let your imagination run wild and replace the spinach with Swiss chard.

  • Stewed Swiss chard is a great light and healthy accompaniment to many meat and fish dishes. The combination of chard with different types of cheese is also tasty, it is often baked with them.

  • Young chard leaves in particular can be used raw in the preparation of various vegetable salads. They taste great, for example, in combination with tomatoes and peppers.

  • Swiss chard also gets along very well with legumes. Try it, for example, in salads, it is most often combined with chickpeas or lentils.

  • If you like soups, you can easily use chard as one of the ingredients. A very tasty creamy soup can be prepared from Swiss chard in combination with other types of vegetables, you can be inspired by recipes for spinach soup .

  • Similarly, a sauce of chard, onion, garlic and cream can be prepared, which is served with beef and potatoes.

  • Baked chard stalks cut into pieces are also a delicacy, which you simply salt and drizzle with olive oil before putting in the oven. After 15 minutes of baking at 200 °C, sprinkle them with parmesan cheese and bake a little longer.

  • As a side dish or a mixture for pasta, you can prepare sauteed Swiss chard with onion and garlic covered in cream.

  • Last but not least, together with other seeds, nuts and herbs, you can use Swiss chard to prepare homemade pesto .
Chard leaves baked with paprika and cheese.

Storing Swiss chard

Like most leafy greens, Swiss chard spoils fairly quickly. Wrapped in a damp cloth, it only lasts about three days in the fridge. For this reason, many people freeze it in their gardens at harvest time. Before freezing, it is advisable to briefly blanch the Swiss chard, then you can freeze the leaves whole or cut into pieces.

Growing chard

Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris var. cicla) is a biennial plant from the leguminous family, which also includes spinach and beets. It is an ancient vegetable that comes originally from the Mediterranean, probably from Sicily. During the Middle Ages, it was one of the most popular vegetables in Europe, but it was later replaced by spinach.

Currently, it is grown mainly in the countries of southern Europe and in the United States of America. If you decide to grow your own chard in your garden, you will surely be pleased that it is a relatively undemanding plant. If you don’t have a garden, you can grow Swiss chard in a pot, for example on your balcony.

Swiss chard with red and orange petioles grown in a pot.

When to plant chard?

Before sowing chard, it is advisable to add a small amount of compost to the soil. The sowing time depends on when we want to have our own fresh Swiss chard available. In general, we sow seeds in the greenhouse or in pots at home in February in order to pre-grow the seedlings, which we transplant into the garden in April so that we can harvest in the summer.

When planting in flower beds, it is necessary to leave sufficient space between individual rows. At least 30 cm for leaf chard, up to 50 cm for chard. During growth, Swiss chard requires regular watering. If you want to harvest in autumn, sow in early summer.

After the leaves are cut off, the plant soon regrows new leaves, and generally the harvest time for chard is anytime from May to September. Plants are usually destroyed by the first frost. It is necessary to remove stems with flowers so that the plant does not become unnecessarily weak.

Popular varieties for home cultivation are for example Rhubar Charb with green leaves and purple petioles or Bright Yellow F1 with yellow petioles and green leaves.

Milan & Ondra

We are both fans of good food and enjoy cooking. On this website, we want to inspire you with traditional, but also less common recipes. We will be happy if you try our recipes and let us know how you liked them. Bon appetite! :)