It is still cold here in North New Jersey’s hardiness zone six and will be for some time, but people are already planning their spring veggie gardens and deciding which vegetables to start early indoors. If part of the goal for your garden this year is healthier eating then you might give Swiss chard some consideration. If you usually plant chard, you may consider planting more of it, and including some of the new brighter colors which have come along lately.
The health and nutrition website, The World’s Healthiest Foods waxes rhapsodic over the goodness which Swiss chard brings to the table. Just to scratch the surface Vitamins A and K are present in outstanding quantity. Vitamins C and E are well represented as are iron, potassium, magnesium and manganese.
But it in the more esoteric compounds that chard positively excels. Chard leaves contain at least 13 phytonutrients with implication for good health. These include kaempferol with well-known cardio-vascular benefits and syringic acid, a proven blood sugar regulator. More, there are betalains, betacyanins and betaxanthins present which bring an array of detoxifying, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant substances into play. Swiss chard is as much a medicine as it is a food.
It is becoming apparent that vividly colored foods contain even more phytonutrients than their less vividly colored counterparts so why not consider deep orange or dark red stemmed and veined chard. Many seed companies offer all the colors of the rainbow in one variety pack. “Bright Lights” and “Rainbow Mix” are two of the names by which the seed blend is marketed.
Whatever variety you choose, all chard remains the tasty salad component, omelet filler and side dish that you have been accustomed to for years. Don’t forget to reserve a space for it in this year’s garden!
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