When you are ready to move on from always using spinach in your green smoothies, Swiss chard is a great next step. Swiss chard has a delicate flavor and softer leaves that blend well in most blenders. It is actually in the same family (amaranthaceae) as spinach and beets.
Chard leaves have a slightly salty flavor that wont make your green smoothie salty. Instead, it will provide some important natural sodium as well as other minerals to your green smoothie.
Swiss chard comes in a variety of colors including red, orange, yellow and white. “Rainbow chard” is simply bunched chard leaves from various color varieties.
Chard is easy to grow in your home garden. They are pretty resilient in the summer months. You can also grow them indoors during the winter months, (if you are like me and live in a place that gets snow during the winter). Simply plant them in containers that are at least 12 inches deep and place them in a sunny spot. You can enjoy fresh chard year round!
Swiss Chard Nutrition and Health Benefits
Just two large Swiss chard leaves contain 196% of your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin A (as beta-carotene), 32% RDA of vitamin C, 12% RDA vitamin E, 664% RDA of vitamin K and 1.7 grams of protein.
While not as potent in calcium and iron as kale or dandelion, chard does pack in the minerals with copper, manganese, magnesium and sodium – the natural, healthiest type of sodium!
Chard helps support bone, lung and heart health while boosting the immune system.
All color varieties of chard are highly nutritious with the same nutritional value for each variety. Most of the nutrients are found in the dark leafy green, and not in the stem. You can add the stem to your green smoothie or discard if you prefer.
Who Should Not Use Swiss Chard
With all of the vitamins, minerals and potential health benefits of consuming chard, is there anything not to love? For most people, chard is one of the healthiest foods in the world. However, certain individuals may need to watch their intake of certain foods like chard.
People who have had, or are prone to, calcium-oxalate kidney stones may need to limit their intake of high-oxalate foods. For the average, healthy person, oxalate in fruits and vegetables is absolutely no concern.
Since chard is exceptionally high in vitamin K, individuals on prescription blood thinners or anticoagulants (like Warfarin) should take extra precautions when consuming vitamin K-rich foods such as leafy greens.
How To Use Swiss Chard In A Green Smoothie
Chard is relatively easy to use in a green smoothie. However, since it does have a mildly bitter, earthy flavor, I would recommend only using four to five leaves in a large (32+ ounce) green smoothie. Two large leaves is about right for a 16-24 ounce recipe.
Chard is easily paired with most flavorful fruits like banana, pineapple, oranges and even apple or pear.
Since chard leaves are fairly delicate, even the most low-powered blenders can blend them up thoroughly.
How To Select And Store Chard
Select chard that has dark green leaves that are slightly firm and not wilting. Avoid any chard leaves that are yellowing or wilted.
Chard is extremely perishable so it should be consumed within a few days after you purchase it.
I keep all my leafy greens in clear plastic tubs in the refrigerator (or use your vegetable crisper drawer). Add a strip of paper towel or a dry cloth to absorb excess moisture and condensation. Fresh chard will last about four days stored this way. Don’t leave greens in plastic produce bags as they will go bad very quickly.
As with any leafy green, choose organic whenever possible.