It is indeed unfortunate that we cut and discard the green leaves of beetroot and radish which are valuable sources of vital nutrients. But, we are ready to pay through our nose for the imported fancy greens such as swiss chard or kale even though they are literally dead by the time they reach us. Did you know that 100g of beet greens can fulfil 127% of your daily requirements of vitamins A, 50% of vitamin C and 500% of vitamin K. Cooked beet greens are also one of the best plant sources of calcium, providing about 15% of daily needs in one cup.
Origins: Swiss chard and beet green are tall dark green leafy vegetables belonging to the goosefoot family – aptly named because the leaves resemble a goose’s foot. Swiss chard was identified by a Swiss botanist and is a variety of Beta vulgaris. Today, Swiss chard is most popular in Mediterranean countries.
Appearance: Swiss chard has large, fleshy but tender deep green leaves and thick, crisp stalks. Different types of chard have different coloured stalks and ribs – some are white, some are a golden orange and some are red – there’s even rainbow chard. Beet greens look similar only that their stalks are usually red only
Storage: Fresh beets with the greens attached can be stored for three to four days in the fridge. Similarly, swiss chard can be stored in a perforated bag in the fridge for upto 4 days
Taste: Swiss chard has an earthy-taste somewhat bitter. Raw beet greens have a chewy, rough texture and bitter taste
Seasonal availability: Beets and their greens enjoy a longer than normal growing season.Though available year round, beets are sweetest and most tender during their peak season, from June to October. Swiss chard is also available all year round, but best from July through to early November.
Cost : Beet greens – Free with beetroot (at Rs 100-120/kg) Swiss chard – Rs 200-250 /kg
Common nutritional benefits
- Green leafy vegetables are rich source of Vitamin K which has blood clotting properties, can prevent osteoporosis by improving bone health and may also be helpful against Alzheimer’s disease.
- Abundant vitamin A and beta carotene in these vegetables helps to strengthen immune system and stimulate production of antibodies and white blood cells.
- Betalain, a strong anti-inflammatory agent, present in beet greens as well as swiss chard helps to fight the free radicals in the body that can be introduced through pollutants, toxic chemicals, or stress
Table: Nutritive value of beet greens compared to swiss chard
|% DV per 100g||Beet greens||Swiss chard|
Health benefits of Beet greens
- Beet leaves contain betacyanin, the pigment that has anti-cancer effects in the body
- Beet greens are fairly rich source of iron and folic acid which can be particularly beneficial for individuals suffering from certain types of blood disorders and also for pregnant women
- Juice of beetroot leaves soon after intense exercise can help in faster recovery from the exhaustion due to rich antioxidant content.
- Beet greens can increase quantity of blood supply to the brain cells thereby enhancing their functioning and preventing onset of dementia in elderly
Health benefits of chard
- High levels of antioxidants in swiss chard help protect against inflammatory diseases such as cancers, arthritis, diabetes, etc
- Syringic acid in swiss chard is a compound that inhibits enzyme alpha glucosidase thereby helping in blood sugar regulation
- Swiss chards can help increase blood circulation.
- Anti-inflammatory and phytonutrient antioxidants combined with potassium in chard helps reduce stress and blood pressure.
Disadvantage of swiss chard and beet greens
- It contains oxalates which can increase risk of developing kidney stones in susceptible individuals.
Final verdict :
Relish on some fresh colourful chard when you are bordering the Mediterranean region, or countries on the north coast of Africa; the southern regions of France, Italy, and Greece; Croatia; and the Middle Eastern countries of Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey.
In India, you have the the local nutritious leafy greens like spinach, beet greens, radish greens, red amaranth, green amaranth, colocasia, and many more to fulfil all your vitamin and mineral requirements with added benefits of freshness and low cost.
Let us learn to preserve and value the wealth of indigenous fruits and vegetables of our country.