(NaturalHealth365) While most health-conscious people are aware of the nutritional potency of leafy greens like spinach and kale, there is less awareness about Swiss chard. However, it is one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables around, containing more than three times the daily recommended vitamin K allowance in just one cup.
In addition to being classified as a leafy green, Swiss chard is also a member of the beet family. It contains high levels of nitrates, which are known for lowering blood pressure and enhancing endurance and athletic performance. Foods from the beet family do so via an effect that reduces the amount of oxygen required during exercise.
Swiss chard is loaded with vitamin K plus many other key nutrients
Swiss chard contains significant amounts of potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, vitamin A, vitamin C and numerous other micronutrients. It is also loaded with antioxidants that can help with fighting and protecting against cancer.
The chlorophyll in Swiss chard has been found to help block cancer-causing heterocyclic amines in grilled meats, so try to have a chard salad with that grilled burger or chicken breast. Or, maybe, you may want to avoid the (high heat) grilled food and load up on the Swiss chard and beets!
Consuming Swiss chard also decreases the risk of diabetes, heart disease and obesity while raising overall mortality rates. Eating it regularly improves skin tone and boosts energy levels.
Swiss chard improves heart health, diabetes symptoms and bone strength
A study from 2013 published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology linked food high in nitrates like Swiss chard to several cardiovascular benefits including lower blood pressure, improved endothelial dysfunction and inhibited platelet aggregation.
Swiss chard can also help with regulating blood sugar levels and managing and reducing symptoms associated with diabetes. It does so due to its content of an antioxidant known asalpha-lipoic acid – which helps increase insulin sensitivity, lower glucose levels, prevent oxidative stress and protect against blood vessel damage (neuropathy) in diabetes patients.
Vitamin K is also essential to bone health by improving calcium absorption, reducing its excretion and strengthening bone proteins.
Studies related to nitrates in beet family vegetables show athletic performance and endurance are improved when these potent foods are consumed. However, the biggest impact of eating Swiss chard and other vitamin K rich leafy greens is related to protection and improvements in respiratory, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.
Add Swiss chard and other leafy greens to salads, sandwiches, soups and smoothies
Swiss chard is best when it is younger and has smaller, more tender leaves. Add it to salads as well as sandwiches and wraps. You can also cook it into soups, main dishes and side dishes. Blend chard into smoothies or add it to an egg dish.
It should be noted that those taking blood thinners should watch their vitamin K intake from Swiss chard and other leafy green vegetables, as it could interfere with the effectiveness of these medications.