Chard – or more simply chard – are foods of vegetal origin belonging to the group of vegetables . Their edible part consists of the leaves and stems. From a botanical point of view, beets are herbaceous plants belonging to the Chenopodiaceae family, Genus Beta , Species vulgaris ; in practice, chard is a variety of beetroot (called cicla ) identifiable with the binomial nomenclature Beta vulgaris cicla . Beets are vegetal organisms with an annual or biennial cycle and their consumption involves cutting the leaves, without removing the root portion. At home, throughout the entire cycle, chard can be used a number of times equal to the capacity to produce the leaves themselves; it is therefore a particularly profitable vegetable. As regards commercial production, however, as well as in the form of “bunches” of leaves, certain varieties (those with wide ribs) require the replacement of the entire plant.
Description and origins
Chard has broad, long, shiny, dark green leaves. The pigment of the ribs or stems varies between white, yellowish and reddish; the most widespread ones in Italy are white-stemmed, but there is a notable differentiation between regional crops.
Chard is native to the old continent, especially Spain, France, Italy and the eastern Adriatic coast (up to and beyond Greece). This suggests that these vegetables prefer climates with wide temperature ranges, humid, but never particularly rigid or torrid. Chard is therefore suitable for cultivation in many parts of the globe, including Africa, America and Asia (in areas where the climate is temperate).
Chard has a sweetish flavor with more or less marked hints of earth (variable based on the type of soil used). Their preparation mainly uses boiling water; in certain cases, this process can be limited to a simple whitening (especially when the chard is intended to integrate first courses and dishes). If they are to be cooked for their own consumption (side dish), the beets should be processed completely in boiling water or steamed (with or without a pressure cooker ).
To properly cook “coast” chard (with a wide, fleshy stem), it is advisable to separate the thicker tissue (which requires longer time) from the thin one (leaves proper, to be added at a later time). The cooking water can be salted (but not too much) and enriched with lemon slices or white wine vinegar . After draining them, it is then useful to let them dry. Once cooked, the chard can be eaten plain, with olive oil and/or lemon , or sautéed in a pan with olive oil, garlic and black pepper . The combination of chard and boiled potatoes is extremely pleasant .
Chard is a widely used ingredient for first courses such as soups, minestrone minestrone and pasta sauces .
Cooking by immersion significantly deprives them of their content of heat-labile (degraded) vitamins and (diluted) mineral salts . The remaining water, if tasteless, is an excellent fertilizer for ornamental plants or vegetables.
Chard is a low- energy food ; these calories essentially come from simple carbohydrates ( fructose ), while proteins and lipids are lacking. The fiber intake is more than satisfactory. Also interesting is the content of vitamins (especially A, C and small doses of some of group B) and mineral salts (mainly potassium and iron ). However, as anticipated, we reiterate that cooking in water strongly limits the conservation of certain nutrients and that their degradation/dispersion impoverishes the food. Being deficient in sodium and rich in potassium , beets are suitable for nutrition against arterial hypertension ; furthermore, thanks to their dietary fiber content , they contribute to lowering the glycemic index of the meal, regulating lipid absorption and promoting a sense of satiety . Beets are therefore useful foods in the diet against hyperlipidemia, type 2 diabetes mellitus and overweight .
Nutritional composition per 100g of raw chard; Cooked chard, boiled without salt – Reference values of the INRAN Food Composition Tables
|Raw chard||Cooked chard, boiled without salt|
|Prevalent amino acids||B.C. glutamic, ac. aspartic, leucine||B.C. glutamic, ac. aspartic, leucine|
|Limiting amino acid||Lysine||Lysine|
|Saturated fatty acids||-mg||-mg|
|Monounsaturated fatty acids||-mg||-mg|
|Polyunsaturated fatty acids||-mg||-mg|
|Cholesterol||0.0 mg||0.0 mg|
|TOT carbohydrates||2.8g||6.0 g|
|Soluble sugars||2.8g||6.0 g|
|Sodium||10.0 mg||20.0 mg|
|Potassium||196.0 mg||220.0 mg|
|Ferro||1.0 mg||2.0 mg|
|Soccer||67.0 mg||130.0 mg|
|Phosphorus||29.0 mg||62.0 mg|
|Vitamin C||24.0 mg||18.0 mg|
|Vitamin E||– mg||– mg|