YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT!
Do you remember hearing “you are what you eat”? Do you know why those wise words have a lot of depth and meaning?
Because all our life enhancing nutrients come from what we put in our bodies. Our food gets it’s nutrients from the soil it is grown in, and the soil is as good as what goes into it.
After decades of listening to the marketing giants tell us what is ‘good’, we are once again leaning towards the “slow food movement” and understanding the real meaning of, “we are what they eat”. I’m excited to see people making the effort to learn what is truly ‘good’ for themselves and then taking responsibility to create vibrant health…like growing a garden of nutrient rich food using organic compost to enrich our soil and fabric and nettings to protect our precious food.
When planting for spring/summer focus on tender, leafy vegetables that represent new growth of this season. Put lots of greens on your plate, including Swiss Chard, Spinach, Romaine Lettuce, Parsley and Basil.
Looking at Swiss Chard for instance, it is not only one of the most popular vegetables along the Mediterranean but it is one of the most nutritious vegetables around, ranking second only to spinach in total nutrient-richness.
The amazing variety of phytonutrients in chard is quickly recognizable in its vibrant colors, the rich, dark greens in its leaves and the rainbow of reds, purples, and yellows in its stalks and veins. Virtually all of these phytonutrients provide antioxidant benefits, anti-inflammatory benefits or both.
Recent research has shown that chard leaves contain at least 13 different polyphenol antioxidants and many flavonoids. One of the primary flavonoids found in the leaves of chard is a flavonoid called syringic acid.
Syringic acid has received special attention due to its blood sugar regulating properties, which comes from its ability to inhibit the enzyme that soaks up carbs. Therefore when this particular enzyme gets inhibited, fewer carbs are broken down into simple sugars and blood sugar is able to stay steadier. Additionally, chard provides a good source of fiber and protein that are excellent to help stabilize blood sugar levels, since they help regulate the speed of digestion.
Like beets, chard is a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains. In the betalain family are found reddish-purple betacyanin pigments as well as yellowish betaxanthin pigments. Both types can be found in chard! Many of the betalain pigments in chard have been shown to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support. The detox support provided by betalains includes support of some especially important Phase 2 detox steps involving glutathione
With its good supply of calcium, its excellent supply of magnesium, and the vitamin K that it provides, in amounts six to eight times higher than the Daily Value (in just one boiled cup), chard provides standout bone support.
I cup of Swiss chard can provide an array of mega vitamins and minerals with only 35 calories!
There’s no question about the valuable role that chard can play in support of our health. Truly, Swiss chard’s beauty is more than skin deep!
Some Serving Ideas for Swiss Chard
- Toss penne pasta with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and cooked Swiss chard.
- Add zest to omelets and frittatas by adding some Swiss chard.
- Use chard in place of or in addition to spinach when preparing veggie lasagna
- Dorian has many ways, one being to sauté and sprinkle with her pear vinegar!
NOTE: If You Are Concerned About Oxalates
When oxalates, which are naturally-occurring substances found in plants, animals, and human beings, become too concentrated in body fluids they may crystallize and interfere with calcium absorption. However every peer-reviewed research study I’ve seen, the ability of oxalates to lower calcium absorption is relatively small and definitely does not outweigh the ability of oxalate-containing foods to contribute calcium to the meal plan. If you have a healthy digestive track, chew and relax while you enjoy your meals, you will get significant benefits—including absorption of calcium. If you have a history of kidney stones or a medical condition that is complicated by the consumption of oxalates, you may want to contact your doctor or health practitioner for advice. There is some helpful information on the web which lists oxalate levels of many foods which can help you plan your diet should you feel the need to reduce your intake of oxalic acid-containing foods. In general, replacing oxalate-rich greens such as spinach and kale with Romaine lettuce or other lettuces will lower exposure, but also lower overall nutrient density.