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What is Swiss Chard? My understanding is that this is similar to spinach. I heard this was good for cholesterol and the heart. Is that true?
Swiss chard is a green leafy vegetable in the same family as spinach and beet greens. The leaves are large and slightly curly like some spinach. The stalk is either white, red or a yellowish color. Like spinach, it has a slightly bitter flavor. Generally speaking, the younger smaller leaves are less bitter and go great in salads.
Like other greens, Swiss chard is really good for you. Eight ounces is only about 40 calories but contains 4 grams of fiber and over a full RDA of Vitamin C. As with other greens and high fiber foods, it is going to be really healthy and help lower cholesterol. It is, however, very high in Vitamin K, so those taking Coumadin® (warfarin) should avoid eating it.
The larger leaves I like to cook similar to collard greens, sliced into chiffonade ribbons and sauteed quickly in a pan until just wilted. A tiny bit of maple syrup or honey really enhances the flavor and cuts the bitterness a bit. Here's a recipe for Sauteed Swiss Chard and one for Swiss Chard with Garlic.
Thanks for writing,
Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP