Although called "Swiss" chard, this green hails from Sicily, not Switzerland. Nevertheless, it's a staple in Mediterranean cuisine. Related to spinach and beets, Swiss chard gives amazing antioxidant protection in the form of carotenoids such as beta-carotene, lutein, and Zeaxanthin, which help maintain healthy eyes and may lower the risk of cataracts. When the body converts the beta-carotene to vitamin A, your vision gets another boost, as well as your immunity and ability to fight some cancers. It's also high in vitamin C; just one cup of cooked Swiss chard offers as much as a third of the daily recommended amount.
Other beneficial nutrients in Swiss chard include vitamin B6, vitamin E, vitamin K, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. In addition, the fiber found in chard helps to keep cholesterol levels down, lowering the risk of heart disease.
There are three types of chard found in stores and at farmers' markets: Rainbow chard, Fordhook Giant, and Ruby Red (or Rhubarb). Regardless of what type you're after, always look for crisp, vibrant green leaves. Avoid leaves with small holes or yellow or brown marks.
Rinse the chard lightly in cool water, then refrigerate it between moistened paper towels in a plastic bag. Poke several pinholes, or cut small slits into the sides of the bag to allow air to circulate. The chard will keep for two to three days.
Both the leaves and stalks are edible. Sauté chard stems first, followed by the leaves with olive oil and minced garlic—season to taste with salt and pepper.
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