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Chard: Green Vitamins

Chard is one of the most popular vegetables and nutrients that can be found in the market. Hailing from the Mediterranean region, this green leafy plant is known for its many beneficial components for the body and the lack of fat and calories. The Arabs started its widespread cultivation, and today plantations of this leafy green vegetable are spread over Europe and North America.

The greens are very resistant to extreme temperatures, especially in summer, so the crops are usually abundant in summer and autumn. Its leaves are green, smooth and great, and offer great versatility to cook when preparing highly nutritious dishes.

Nutritional composition

Nutritional composition

Nutritional composition

Some of the biggest advantages of chard are its high fiber content, its lack of fat, its low calorific value and high water content, which makes it diuretic and ideal for slimming. Fiber is essential to regulate intestinal transit.

Although their content of carbohydrates and proteins is low, this product has substantial amounts of vitamins and minerals. Without doubt, chard is especially rich in potassium, a mineral essential to eliminate toxins, through its effect on renal function. Potassium also is critical in the cardiovascular and nervous system, and helps in the storage of carbohydrates and their subsequent transformation into energy.

The greener the leaf, the more amount of vitamins the chard has. After spinach, this vegetable is the richest in calcium, but we can’t ignore the amount of magnesium it has. It is also an excellent source of folate or vitamin B9, essential for pregnant women because it prevents the occurrence of fetus malformations. In addition, this food is rich in vitamin C, although the numbers are greatly reduced by cooking.

Consumption and cooking

Consumption and cooking

Consumption and cooking

We can distinguish two parts in the chard: the green, the thin sheet, and the whites, the tougher stalks. When baking, it is best to separate the two parts, as they require different types of cooking. As mentioned before, vitamin C disappears in large amounts after cooking, so it is good to occasionally have a salad, where a young plant adds a bitter touch to the old leaves.

The flavor of the chard is slightly softer than that of spinach. It is usually eaten boiled or steamed, sautéed with garlic and seasoned with olive oil, vinaigrettes or mayonnaise. Furthermore, when the rib of the chard is very large, the stalk can be used for coating or filling. The greens are also a perfect ingredient for soups, creams and vegetable purees, complementing its nutritional value.

In usual dieting take them boiled or steamed. Its high fiber content makes this vegetable the best ally for constipation problems. It is also beneficial for hypertension and fluid retention by its diuretic power, thanks to its high water content. Moreover, we cannot forget that the chard contain oxalates and enough restraint to be taken in case of developing gallstones.

Choosing chard

Choosing chard

Choosing chard

Chard is best taken in the shortest possible time. Stored in the refrigerator a couple of days, but to enjoy all its properties, it is best savored on the same day you buy it in the market. If you want to freeze it, you should previously blanch it for two minutes in boiling water.

When you choose the vegetables in the store always opt for green leafy and smooth chard, unblemished, with hard white stalks. The lines of leaves indicate that the bloom is about to start or already has started, so their pads can add a bitter taste to your dish. Although we enjoy all year round the best season for chard consumption is within summer and autumn.

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