Dark, leafy green vegetables are among the most nutrient-dense foods.
Although kale is often deemed the king of greens, Swiss chard is equally impressive in its wide array of nutritional benefits.
This article explains everything you need to know about Swiss chard, including nutrients and health benefits.
Swiss chard is a leafy green belonging to the Chenopodioideae family, which also includes beets and spinach ().
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 native to the Mediterranean ().
There are many types of Swiss chard, some of which have colorful, jewel-toned stalks and veins, making this vegetable particularly pleasing to the eye.
What’s more, its leaves and stalks provide an abundance of vitamins, minerals and powerful plant compounds.
Just 1 cup (175 grams) of cooked Swiss chard packs (3):
- Calories: 35
- Protein: 3.3 grams
- Carbs: 7 grams
- Fiber: 3.7 grams
- Vitamin A: 214% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Vitamin C: 53% of the RDI
- Vitamin E: 17% of the RDI
- Vitamin K: 716% of the RDI
- Calcium: 10% of the RDI
- Copper: 14% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 38% of the RDI
- Manganese: 29% of the RDI
- Iron: 22% of the RDI
- Potassium: 27% of the RDI
As you can see, a small serving of cooked Swiss chard covers your daily need for vitamins A and K and nearly fulfills the RDI for vitamin C.
What’s more, Swiss chard is a good source of calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc, sodium, phosphorus and vitamin E.
This green is not only loaded with nutrients but also extremely low in calories, making it a weight-loss-friendly food.
Summary Swiss chard is a low-calorie vegetable that is high in magnesium, iron, potassium and vitamins A, C and K.
Swiss chard is also high in antioxidants, which fight free radicals in your body that may lead to certain diseases ().
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 ().
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, people with the highest intake of beta-carotene had a significantly lower risk of lung cancer than those with the lowest intake ().
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 inhibiting cancer cell growth ().
Research shows that Vitexin, another flavonoid found in Swiss chard, may help fight heart disease by lowering blood pressure, reducing inflammation and inhibiting blood clotting ().
Summary Swiss chard is high in many antioxidants including beta-carotene and flavonoids, which may help prevent certain conditions like heart disease and lung cancer.
Fiber is an indispensable 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, stabilizing blood sugar levels ().
Just 1 cup (175 grams) of cooked Swiss chard provides about 4 grams of fiber — 15% of the RDI.
Health organizations like the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association recommend that adults consume at least 25–30 grams of fiber per day from food (, ).
Following a high-fiber diet provides many health benefits.
People on such diets have lower rates of colon cancer, stomach cancer and heart disease (, , ).
Additionally, many studies indicate that those who follow high-fiber diets have significantly lower body weight than those on low-fiber diets ().
Summary Swiss chard is high in fiber, an important nutrient that can help maintain weight, lower your risk of certain cancers and promote heart health.
Vitamin K is a group of fat-soluble compounds including vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) and vitamin K2 (menaquinone).
K1, which is mostly found in plant sources, is abundant in Swiss chard.
Just 1 cup (175 grams) of cooked Swiss chards offers 716% of the RDI for this important nutrient (17).
Vitamin K is involved in many important processes in your body.
For example, it’s required for blood clotting and various cellular functions ().
It’s also essential for bone health. Your body needs it to form osteocalcin — a protein involved in bone formation and maintenance ().
Low intake of vitamin K 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 ().
Summary Swiss chard is an excellent source of vitamin K, a nutrient essential for proper blood clotting and skeletal health.
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.
Swiss chard is an excellent source of potassium, calcium and magnesium, minerals that help maintain healthy blood pressure ().
The fiber found in Swiss chard may lower cholesterol levels by reducing your liver’s cholesterol production and helping your body excrete extra before it’s absorbed into the bloodstream ().
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 over 173,000 people linked every one-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 compared to those with the lowest intake ().
Summary Swiss chard may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, which may prevent heart disease.
Swiss chard is loaded with nutrients that may lower blood sugar, or glucose.
For example, Swiss chard’s fiber may help maintain healthy glucose levels in your blood.
High-fiber foods help slow digestion, which reduces the rate at which sugar is absorbed into your bloodstream, preventing high blood sugar and stabilizing glucose levels ().
Fiber also helps reduce insulin resistance, a condition in which cells stop responding to insulin ().
Insulin resistance is associated with a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease and obesity (, ).
Consuming more fiber-rich vegetables like Swiss chard can improve symptoms in those with diabetes and insulin resistance and reduce the chances of these diseases occurring in the first place ().
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 ().
A review of 23 studies concluded that people with the highest intake of green leafy vegetables had a 13% lower risk of diabetes than those with the lowest intake ().
Summary Swiss chard is high in fiber and antioxidants, which may improve blood sugar control and lower your risk of diabetes.
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, reducing your risk of snacking and overeating.
In a study in 120 overweight adults, those who received twice the amount of vegetables than the control group experienced greater weight loss and hunger satisfaction ().
People who eat more vegetables tend to weigh less than those who don't.
A review of 17 studies in over 560,000 participants noted that those with the highest intake of vegetables were 17% less likely to be overweight or obese ().
Alongside its fiber content, Swiss chard has only 35 calories per cooked cup (175 grams).
Adding this low-calorie, nutrient-dense green to your diet can help you stay on track when trying to lose weight and get healthy.
Summary Swiss chard is high in fiber and low in calories, making it a weight-loss-friendly food.
Swiss chard is a nutritional powerhouse that you can eat in many ways. Its mild taste makes it a perfect ingredient for countless recipes.
Here are some excellent ways to add Swiss chard to your diet:
- Sauté it with coconut oil and add it to scrambled eggs.
- Use it in hearty soups and stews.
- Add it to a mixed green salad.
- Toss a few leaves of it into your favorite smoothie.
- Rub the leaves with olive oil and salt, then bake to make chips.
- Sauté with garlic and olive oil for a tasty side dish.
- Use it in place of basil when making homemade pesto.
- Toss wilted it into pasta dishes.
- Pickle it stems for a crunchy snack.
- Blend fresh Swiss chard with hummus for a tasty, nutritious dip.
- Stuff chicken breast with Swiss chard and goat cheese.
- Top pizza crust with Swiss chard, mozzarella and tomatoes.
- Toss it into your favorite frittata.
Summary Swiss chard is a mild green that can be used in a number of dishes, including salads, pastas and sides.
Swiss chard is a leafy green vegetable that is packed with nutrients.
It contains an impressive amount of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that your body needs.
What’s more, you can sauté it alone or add it to stews, salads, stir-fries, frittatas, pastas and more.
Consuming Swiss chard may lower your risk of certain chronic diseases, help promote weight loss, maintain healthy blood sugar and benefit heart health.
Plus it’s a versatile vegetable that pairs well with many foods.
Once you begin eating Swiss chard, you may find you can’t live without it.