We are eating one of the "world's healthiest foods" tonight as I am currently baking some swiss chard in the oven (with some cabbage).
So get get some chard! I blend it into green smoothies and learned from my sweet friend in Sisters about baking it...set the temp high on your oven, smother the chard or the kale in olive oil and garlic, and bake it until it's crispy-ish. Kids love it.
Here's some more chard recipes: http://kalynskitchen.blogspot.com/2008/02/recipes-for-swiss-chard-and-mushroom.html
Both the leaves and the roots of Swiss chard have been the subject of fascinating health studies. The combination of traditional nutrients, phytonutrients (particularly anthocyans), plus fiber in this food seems particularly effective in preventing digestive tract cancers. Several research studies on chard focus specifically on colon cancer, where the incidence of precancerous lesions in animals has been found to be significantly reduced following dietary intake of Swiss chard extracts or fibers. Preliminary animal research also suggests that Swiss chard may confer a protective effect on the kidneys of those with diabetes through reducing serum urea and creatinine levels.
If vegetables got grades for traditional nutrients alone, Swiss chard would be one of the vegetable valedictorians. The vitamin and mineral profile of this leafy green vegetable contains enough "excellents" to ensure its place at the head of the vegetable Dean's List. Our rating system awards Swiss chard with excellent marks for its concentrations of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, manganese, potassium, iron, vitamin E, and dietary fiber. Swiss chard also emerges as a very good or good source of copper, calcium, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, protein, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc, folate, biotin, niacin and pantothenic acid.
Swiss Chard contains:
2. Vitamin A - Our food ranking system qualified Swiss chard as an excellent source of vitamin A on account of its concentrated beta-carotene content. Once inside the body, beta-carotene can be converted into vitamin A, so when you eat Swiss chard, it's like getting both these beneficial nutrients at once. One cup of Swiss chard contains just 35 calories, but provides 109.9% of the daily value for vitamin A.
Both vitamin A and beta-carotene are important vision nutrients. In a study of over 50,000 female nurses aged 45 to 67, those who consumed the highest dietary amount of vitamin A had a 39% reduced risk of developing cataracts.Beta-carotene has also been the subject of extensive research in relationship to cancer prevention and prevention of oxygen-based damage to cells
3. Magnesium - yet another nutrient on Swiss chard's "Excellent Source" list, helps regulate nerve and muscle tone by balancing the action of calcium. In many nerve cells, magnesium serves as Nature's own calcium channel blocker, preventing calcium from rushing into the nerve cell and activating the nerve. By blocking calcium's entry, magnesium keeps our nerves (and the blood vessels and muscles they enervate) relaxed.
4. Vitamin C - Swiss chard is an excellent source of vitamin C-just one cup of this cooked vegetable supplies 52.5% of the daily value for vitamin C. Vitamin C is the primary water-soluble antioxidant in the body, disarming free radicals and preventing damage in the aqueous environment both inside and outside cells. Inside cells, a potential result of free radical damage to DNA is cancer. Especially in areas of the body where cellular turnover is especially rapid, such as the digestive system, preventing DNA mutations translates into preventing cancer. This is why a good intake of vitamin C is associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer.
An important electrolyte involved in nerve transmission and the contraction of all muscles including the heart, potassium is essential for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function. Swiss chard can promote your cardiovascular health by being an excellent source of not only magnesium but potassium, too. A one cup serving of Swiss chard provides 27.4% of the daily value for potassium along with its aforementioned 47% of the daily value for magnesium, making Swiss chard an especially good choice to prevent high blood pressure and protect against atherosclerosis.
5. Iron - Swiss chard is an excellent source of iron, a mineral so vital to the health of the human body that it is found in every human cell.
6. Vitamin E - Swiss chard is an excellent source of vitamin E, the body's primary fat-soluble antioxidant. Vitamin E travels throughout the body neutralizing free radicals that would otherwise damage fat-containing structures and molecules, such as cell membranes, brain cells, and cholesterol. By protecting these cellular and molecular components, vitamin E has significant anti-inflammatory effects that result in the reduction of symptoms in asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis, conditions where free radicals and inflammation play a big role. Vitamin E has also been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer, help decrease the severity and frequency of hot flashes in women going through menopause, and help reduce the development of diabetic complications.
7. Fiber - Swiss chard's health benefits continue with its fiber; a cup of Swiss chard provides 14.7% of the daily value for fiber, which has been shown to reduce high cholesterol levels thus helping to prevent atherosclerosis. Fiber can also help out by keeping blood sugar levels under control, so Swiss chard is an excellent vegetable for people with diabetes. Swiss chard's fiber binds to cancer-causing chemicals, keeping them away from the cells lining the colon, providing yet another line of protection from colon cancer.
8. Manganese - That same cup of Swiss chard will also provide you with 29.0% of the day's needs for manganese. This trace mineral helps produce energy from protein and carbohydrates, and is involved in the synthesis of fatty acids that are important for a healthy nervous system and in the production of cholesterol that is used by the body to produce sex hormones. Manganese is also a critical component of an important antioxidant enzyme called superoxide dismutase. Superoxide dismutase (SOD) is found exclusively inside the body's mitochondria (the oxygen-based energy factories inside most of our cells) where it provides protection against damage from the free radicals produced during energy production.
9. Vitamin B6 - A cofactor in the reaction that regenerates glutathione, riboflavin help ensure adequate levels of one of the body's most important antioxidants. Among glutathione's many beneficial activities, it protects lipids like cholesterol from free radical attack. Only after it has been damaged by free radicals does cholesterol pose a threat to blood vessel walls. In addition, riboflavin is necessary for proper functioning of B6. Vitamin B6 is involved in an important cellular process called methylation at the juncture where homocysteine, a dangerous molecule that can directly damage blood vessel walls, is converted into a helpful amino acid, methionine. Without riboflavin's assistance, vitamin B6 cannot change into the active form in which it catalyzes this conversion. Once again, we can rely on Swiss chard, which supplies us with both nutrients. A cup of Swiss chard contains 8.8% of the daily value for riboflavin along with 7.5% of the daily value for vitamin B6.
10. - Mental Performance - Mental performance normally declines with age, but the results of Chicago Health and Aging Project (CHAP) suggest that eating just 3 servings of green leafy, yellow and cruciferous vegetables each day could slow this decline by 40%, suggests a study in the journal Neurology (Morris MC, Evans DA, et al.)
Compared to people who consumed less than one serving of vegetables a day, people who ate at least 2.8 servings of vegetables a day saw their rate of cognitive decline slow by roughly 40%. This decrease is equivalent to about five years of younger age,said lead author Martha Clare Morris, ScD, with Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.