“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.”
We know that vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals essential for our health. More recently, we are becoming accustomed to hearing about how vegetables are wonderful sources for bioactive compounds or phytonutrients. Bioactive compounds are non-essential health-benefiting compounds that exist naturally in plants–meaning we don’t need these compounds to sustain life like we do vitamins and minerals, but they do enhance life.
Swiss Chard, discovered by a Swiss botantist and one of the most popular vegetables along the Mediterranean, contains at least 13 different polyphenol antioxidants. For example Swiss chard contains the cardioprotective flavonoid, kaempferol, which is also found in broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and strawberries. But one of the most interesting bioactive compounds found in the leaves of Swiss chard is the flavonoid called syringic acid. Syringic acid has been shown to have blood sugar regulating properties through inhibition of alpha-glucosidase, an enzyme that breaks down starch and disaccharides into it’s simple sugars, glucose. However, when this enzyme is inhibited, fewer carbohydrates are broken down into glucose and blood sugar is stabilized. This blood sugar regulating property seems to be particularly true following a meal. Also, Swiss chard contains a good amount of fiber (>3.5 grams/1 cup, cooked) and decent amount of protein (almost 3.5 grams/1 cup, cooked). So, the combination of fiber and protein will not only keep you full longer by regulating the speed of digestion but saringic acid will also stabilize blood sugar levels. I am thinking this is a win/win situation!
How to incorporate Swiss chard into your dinner plans:
Thai Basil Curry with Swiss Chard, Butternut Squash, and Tofu
- About 1 pound of baked tofu–please see suggestion within the recipe
- 1/2 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
- 1 can light coconut milk
- small can bamboo shoots, cut into strips
- 1 to 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste (Thai Kitchen is a good one)
- 1 tablespoon raw sugar OR local unpasteurized honey
- 1/4 cup basil (Thai basil if your local grocery store/co-op has it)
- 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 1 large bunch of Swiss chard, washed well and roughly chopped, remove tough stems
- 1 head of broccoli, stems removed and florets pulled apart
- cooked (brown) rice or quinoa (optional)
- Refer to my previous post on baking tofu OR you can pick up baked tofu at Trader Joe’s OR in the salad bar at Whole Foods
Thai Basil Curry:
- Dissolve the curry paste and ginger in 1/3 of the coconut milk. (Note: curry pastes will vary in spiciness. Use more or less depending on brand and your heat tolerance.) Place in a dutch oven or large skillet and simmer for five minutes.
- Add sugar or honey, tofu, broccoli, squash and remaining coconut milk. Cook until squash is almost done.
- Add basil and Swiss chard and cover. Steam for a few more minutes. Remove lid and mix.
- Serve over cooked brown rice, quinoa, or eat plain!