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 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.
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 (
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.
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 contains (
- 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.
Swiss chard is low in calories and high in magnesium, iron, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and K.
Swiss chard is high in antioxidants, which protect your body from free radicals that may lead to certain diseases (
Consuming a diet high in the antioxidants found in Swiss chard may decrease your chances of developing certain chronic diseases.
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 (
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 (
Swiss 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.
Just 1 cup (175 grams) of cooked Swiss chard provides about 4 grams of fiber.
Swiss 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 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 (
Vitamin K is involved in many important processes in your body.
For example, it’s required for blood clotting and various cellular functions (
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 (
Swiss 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.
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 (
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 (
Swiss 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.
Fiber also helps reduce insulin resistance, a condition in which cells stop responding to insulin (
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 (
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 (
Swiss 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 (
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 (
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 may be beneficial if you’re trying to maintain a moderate weight.
Swiss chard is high in fiber and low in calories, making it a great addition to a healthy diet for weight loss.
Though Swiss chard can be a nutritious addition to the diet for most healthy adults, some people may need to limit or moderate their intake.
Here are a few of the potential health risks associated with Swiss chard:
- High in vitamin K. People who take blood thinners, such as warfarin, need to maintain a consistent daily intake of vitamin K-rich foods such as Swiss chard Sudden changes in vitamin K consumption can interfere with the effectiveness of these medications (
- Contains oxalates. Like other leafy greens, Swiss chard is high in oxalates, which play a role in the formation of calcium oxalate kidney stones — but you can still enjoy nutrient-dense foods high in oxalates. To help prevent kidney stones, try to stay hydrated, limit sodium intake, and get enough calcium (
- May cause allergic reactions. Though uncommon, allergies to Swiss chard have been reported. If you experience symptoms of a reaction — such as hives, itching, or swelling — after eating Swiss chard, stop eating it and seek medical attention (
Swiss chard contains certain nutrients and compounds that some people may need to limit, including vitamin K and dietary oxalates. It may also trigger an allergic reaction for some people.
Swiss chard is a nutritional powerhouse that you can enjoy in a variety of dishes.
Here are a few easy ways to add Swiss chard to your diet:
- Saute 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 into your favorite smoothie.
- Rub the leaves with olive oil and salt, and then bake them to make chips.
- Saute it with garlic and olive oil for a tasty side dish.
- Use it in place of basil when making homemade pesto.
- Toss wilted leaves into pasta dishes.
- Pickle the 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.
Swiss chard is a mild green that works well in a variety of dishes, including salads, pastas, and side dishes.
Swiss chard is available at most supermarkets and can be found in the produce section, often alongside other leafy greens like cabbage, kale, and spinach.
Here are a few tips to consider when purchasing Swiss chard:
- Look for bunches that have brightly colored stalks and smooth leaves.
- Avoid purchasing chard with blemishes, discolorations, or brown or yellow patches on the leaves.
- Check the stalk to make sure that it’s firm rather than soft, which is a sign that it may be too ripe.
- Though buying conventional Swiss chard may be more cost-effective, some people may prefer purchasing organic varieties due to concerns about pesticide exposure and long-term effects on health (
Swiss chard can be found in the produce aisle of most grocery stores. Be sure to consider whether you prefer to buy an organically or conventionally grown variety and check the color and texture of the stalk and leaves before buying.
What does Swiss chard taste like?
Swiss chard is often compared to spinach in terms of its unique flavor. It has an earthy, somewhat bitter taste when consumed raw and a slightly sweet, milder flavor when cooked.
Can you eat Swiss chard raw?
You can eat Swiss chard either raw or cooked. Raw Swiss chard makes a good addition to sandwiches, wraps, salads, and smoothies, while cooked Swiss chard can be added to scrambled eggs, soups, and pasta dishes.
How to store Swiss chard?
You can wrap Swiss chard in a damp cloth or paper towel and store it in an unsealed bag in the refrigerator. Be sure to avoid washing it before you store it, as this can increase the moisture level and cause it to spoil faster.
How to freeze Swiss chard?
Swiss chard should be blanched before freezing, which helps preserve its flavor, texture, and color.
To freeze Swiss chard, wash it, separate the leaves from the stalks, and cook the Swiss chard in boiling water for 1–2 minutes.
Then, plunge the Swiss chard into ice water to stop the cooking process and drain it thoroughly before placing it in a plastic bag, removing as much air as possible, and freezing it.
What are the different types of Swiss chard?
There are several types of Swiss chard, which vary slightly in terms of the color of their stalks.
Some of the most common varieties are:
- Bright Lights
- Fordhook Giant
- Bright Yellow
- Rhubarb Chard
- Large White Ribbed
- Orange Fantasia
- Rhubarb Red
- Magenta Sunset
How to grow Swiss chard?
Swiss chard is relatively easy to grow. It prefers cool or moderate weather, full to partial sunlight, and loose, well-draining soil.
For a spring harvest, plant the seeds a few weeks before the last spring frost. If you prefer to harvest them in the fall, plant them 40–50 days before the first fall frost.
Sow seeds 1/2–1 inch (1.2–2.5 cm) deep and 2–6 inches (5–15 cm) apart and water them consistently, especially during the summer.
How to harvest Swiss chard?
You can start harvesting Swiss chard once the plant is 6–8 inches (15–20 cm) tall by cutting the outer leaves.
Be sure to sever at the base of the plant using scissors or a knife and avoid damaging the terminal bud.
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.
You can saute 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, help you maintain healthy blood sugar levels, and support heart health.
Plus, it’s a versatile vegetable that pairs well with many foods and can be added to a variety of recipes.