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Swiss chard was considered a delicacy until the 19th century, but then the green leaves almost completely disappeared from the menu. In the meantime, however, chard has found its way back into the kitchen. Its taste is reminiscent of spinach, but can it be eaten the same way? How healthy is the vegetable and how many vitamins does it contain?


Consume raw?

Basically, chard is considered very healthy and with a calorie content of 19 kcal per 100 grams, it is also a great addition to a calorie-conscious diet. However, there are restrictions on consumption, especially when eating raw!

Chard contains oxalic acid, which can be toxic to humans and animals. The cooking process significantly reduces the acidity and is safe for humans to consume. However, if large amounts of chard are consumed raw, symptoms of poisoning can occur.

raw consumption

What happens when you eat chard raw?

Not everyone reacts with symptoms of poisoning to the consumption of oxalic acid, which is contained in Swiss chard. Often nothing happens or there is a little discomfort. The risk of symptoms increases in line with the absorbed dose. The following symptoms may occur depending on the amount ingested.

  • adhesion of the renal tubules
  • calcium deficiency
  • Kidney stones
  • Gastrointestinal complaints

Adhesion of the renal tubules:

Oxalic acid, which is contained in chard, forms a substance in the human intestine together with the consumed calcium that can no longer be dissolved. This substance is called calcium oxalate. Calcium oxalate gets into the kidney tubules through the natural cycle and can block them. This can lead to the formation of kidney stones, which in the worst case have to be surgically removed.

Calcium deficiency:

Since oxalic acid combines with calcium and withdraws it from the body, there is a risk of calcium deficiency. This deficiency in turn has the following symptoms.

  • drop in blood pressure
  • irregularity of the pulse
  • leg cramps
  • water retention
  • vomiting and diarrhea
  • circulatory collapse

People who already suffer from low calcium levels or who have already been diagnosed with osteoporosis are particularly at risk.

oxalic acid content

What is the oxalic acid content of Swiss chard?

Swiss chard is by no means the only vegetable that should not be eaten raw due to its oxalic acid content. Spinach, rhubarb and beetroot, which have a similar taste, also contain the substance. Cocoa powder contains a particularly large amount, which may only be consumed in small quantities.

Oxal content:

  • chard: 110 - 900MG per 100 grams
  • Spinach: 120 - 1300MG per 100 grams
  • Rhubarb: 180 - 760MG per 100 grams
  • Red berry: 17 - 405MG per 100 grams
  • cocoa powder: 338 - 645 MG per 100 grams

poisoning prevention

How can poisoning be prevented?

If the chard is eaten cooked, the oxalic acid content is reduced to a harmless level. Small amounts of raw vegetables are usually tolerated, but to compensate and to prevent a calcium deficiency, it is advisable to consume additional calcium. Calcium should be consumed at least two hours after eating raw Swiss chard.

types of chard

What types of chard are there?

There are different types of chard, which differ from each other in terms of both appearance and taste.

There are the following types:

  • stem chard
  • leaf chard

the stem chard has pronounced stalks that are often eaten as a substitute for asparagus. The stalks are also used as an accompaniment to salads, but only in tiny amounts due to the oxalic acid content.

leaf chard features large leaves that are up to 30 cm long. reachable. The leaves curl at the ends, the stems are much narrower.


Where does chard come from?

The history of chard goes back to ancient times. There the vegetables grew wild in the Mediterranean area. In the meantime, chard is also growing in large parts of Europe, but only very rarely in Germany.


How does chard taste when eaten?

Swiss chard is reminiscent of spinach in terms of appearance and preparation, but the two types of vegetables differ in taste. The spinach tastes milder, less intense, the taste of chard dominates and is slightly tart.

The stem vegetables also taste mild, are vaguely reminiscent of green asparagus and go well with stews, salads and as vegetables.


Is chard healthy or unhealthy?

Swiss chard is considered a natural medicinal plant and was used in ancient times to treat various ailments. Both constipation and mental illnesses such as restlessness and nervousness were treated. The mineral content is good, Swiss chard is considered healthy and nutritious.

  • Chard has a protein content of 2.1 grams per 100 grams
  • the fat content is 0.3 grams
  • the proportion of carbohydrates is 0.7 grams
  • the vegetables are also high in iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium and sodium

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