Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris L.): Health benefits and Side effects

Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris L.): Health benefits and Side effects

Edited By: Dr. Asha Jyoti Bharati

Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris L. var. cicla), belonging to the Chenopodiaceae family. Other common names of Swiss chard is silver chard, silverbeet, perpetual spinach, spinach beet, crab beet, and seakale beet. First signs of this vegetable were recorded in the Mediterranean region and the Canary Islands. Swiss chard was popular since ancient time (350 BC) and is introduced to the USA by Swiss settlers in 1806 (1). Swiss chard is grown commercially in Europe and North America (2).

The leaves of this plant can be eaten raw in salads or cooked like spinach. The stems are usually chopped and cooked like celery. Swiss chard is rich in natural antioxidants and anti‐acetylcholinesterase. Main health benefits of Swiss chard is the prevention of neurodegenerative or chronic diseases (3). Because of all these properties, Swiss chard is included under superfood.

Nutritional value of Swiss chard

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Swiss chard leaves and stalks contain relatively high levels of vitamins, fibers, and minerals. It was identified as a potentially rich source of essential nutrients and phytochemical compounds such as carotenoids and polyphenols (4). Other components are as follows (5)

Compound Amounts per 100 g.
Water 92.66 g
Energy 19 kcal
Protein 1.80 g
Total lipid (Fat)s 0.20 g
Carbohydrates 3.74 g
Dietary Fiber 1.6 g
Sugar 1.10 g
Folates 14 µg
Choline 18 mg
Niacin 040 mg
Pantothenic acid 0.17 mg
Pyridoxine 0.99 mg
Riboflavin 0.09 mg
Thiamin 0.04 mg
Vitamin A 6116 IU
Vitamin C 30 mg
Vitamin E 1.89 mg
Vitamin K 830 µg
Calcium 51 mg
Copper 0.18 mg
Iron 1.80 mg
Magnesium 81 mg
Manganese 0.36 mg
Phosphorous 46 mg
Selenium 0.9 µg
Zinc 0.36 mg
Sodium 213 mg
Potassium 379 mg

Health benefits of Swiss chard

1. Antidiabetic

Swiss chard is high in fiber and antioxidants such as flavonoids and saponins. These compounds reduce blood glucose levels. Thus lowers the risk of diabetes. It was concluded that the extract of this plant has a reduced effect on liver injury in diabetes mellitus (6).

2. Antioxidant and anticancer

Swiss chard is a rich source of flavonoids (vitexin, vitexin-2-O-rhamnoside, and vitexin-2-O-xyloside) and betalains (red betacyanins and yellow betaxanthins). Both are used as powerful radical scavengers and natural additives to inhibit the proliferation of cancers specifically colon and breast cancer (7). Phyto Pigments of Swiss chard improves immune, detoxification and antioxidant systems of the human body (8).

3. Anti-inflammatory

Swiss chard can be used as a dietary food supplement in epilepsy treatment. Swiss chard consumption may prevent cardiac damage from oxidative stress and inflammation (9).

4. Antidepressant

Swiss chard contains folate, iron, long chain omega-3 fatty acids. Minerals like magnesium, potassium, selenium, zinc. And vitamins such as thiamine, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C. These compounds play an important role in the prevention and promotion of recovery from depressive disorders (10).

5. Reduces blood pressure and CVD

Swiss chard is an excellent source of nitrate, β-Carotene,  potassium, calcium, and magnesium. These minerals help lowering blood pressure. Not only this, but it also suppresses the lipid oxidation, inhibiting platelet aggregation, preserving or improving endothelial dysfunction. Therefore, reduce the risk of cardiovascular events (11,12).

6. Treats anemia

Every 150g serving of Swiss chard provides 3.6 mg of iron and vitamin C. It also increases iron absorption in the body. Daily intake of foods rich in iron and vitamin C such as Swiss chard enhances the production of red blood cells and prevent or treat anemia (13).

7. Healthy Bones

Although Swiss chard has low calcium but is rich in Vitamin K. Vitamin K can not only increase bone mineral density in osteoporotic people but also actually reduce fracture rates (14).

8. Good for eyes

Swiss chard is dark green leafy vegetables, which are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin. These compounds may decrease the risk of age-related macular degeneration (15).

9. Prevents cataracts and glaucoma

Lutein and zeaxanthin also protect the retina and cornea from age-related disorders such as cataracts and glaucoma. These carotenoids absorb the damage caused by the blue light that enters the eye and prevents it from causing disruptions to the retina (15).

10. Healthy Liver

Swiss chard has a high antioxidant capacity because of its flavonoid contents. This adds up to the anti-inflammatory and anti-apoptotic properties. Hence, Swiss chard is a promising therapeutic agent in alleviating gentamicin-induced nephrotoxicity and hepatotoxicity in clinical trials (16)

The side effect of Swiss chard

1. Kidney stone

Swiss chard contains anti-nutritive oxalates they may increase urinary oxalate excretion and predispose to the development of calcium oxalate stones. Therefore, a person who is suffering from kidney stone should avoid Swiss chard, because oxalates may aggravate symptoms in some (17).

2. Cooking degrades nutrients

After boiling Swiss chard for 10 minutes  80% loss of vitamin C happens. Vitamin C also degrade under modified atmosphere packaging, though no effect upon flavonoid content was observed (18). Therefore eating raw Swiss chard is best if you want maximum advantage out of it.

3. Blood clotting

Persons who are taking blood thinners should not eat Swiss chard. As it contains the high amount of Vitamin K which plays a large role in blood clotting (19).

4. Allergy

The person who is allergic to grass pollen should not eat Swiss chard because inhalation of vapor from boiling Swiss chard precipitated rhinoconjunctivitis and asthma (20).

Is Swiss chard and Spinach are the same thing?

No both are different. Spinach and Swiss chard or Silverbeet probably have similar health benefits. As both contain the same compounds. Almost no scientific proofs are there on the similarities and effectiveness of both. Both Swiss chard and Spinach belongs to the same family.

Similarities include both are very low in fat content and neither contains cholesterol (21).

Different in some nutritional profile.

Spinach contains more calcium, iron, folate, and beta-carotene than swiss chard.

However, Swiss chard has a high content of vitamin C, an important antioxidant, helps your body absorbs iron and is also vital for healthy bones, tissues, and skin (22).

Healthy Recipes of Swiss chard

1. Swiss chard pasta

Simple pasta with swiss chard is a delicious and nutritious recipe. Requirements are pasta, garlic, olive oil, and swiss chard and other vegetables, salt, and pepper.

2. Soup

Swiss chard soup can be prepared with carrot, baby onions, celery, garlic, and coriander. Swiss chard soup is tasty and healthy can be sip anytime.

3. Salad

Swiss can be consumed as a salad with carrot, lemon juice, and other vegetables.

4. Smoothie

Swiss chard consumes fresh with coconut milk, mango, banana, and honey.

5. Other dishes

Swiss chard can also use fresh juice, scrambled eggs, or an omelet.







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