Chard Nutrition Information and Health Benefits

Chard, annotated

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

Chard and other leafy greens are nutritional powerhouses: They are very low in calories, carbs, sugars, and fat, but high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Thanks to these nutrients, chard has many health benefits, and is a valuable addition to your diet. Swiss chard and other chard varieties are easy to cook, versatile, and readily available.

Chard Nutrition Facts

The USDA provides the following nutrition information for 1 cup of raw chard.

  • Calories: 6.8
  • Fat: 0.1g
  • Sodium: 77mg
  • Carbohydrates: 1.4g
  • Fiber: 0.6g
  • Sugars: 0.4g
  • Protein: 0.7g

Carbs

A 1-cup serving of chard has 0.7 gram effective (net) carbohydrate (total carbohydrate minus dietary fiber). As with most non-starchy vegetables, there is no scientific study of the glycemic index of chard. However, its estimated glycemic load is very low (about 2). Anything under 10 is considered low.

Fat

As a leafy green vegetable, chard has a negligible amount of fat (almost all of it unsaturated).

Protein

Chard is also not a good source of protein, so you will need to consume other foods to get enough of this macronutrient in your diet.

Vitamins and Minerals

Leafy greens like chard are packed with nutrients. Chard is an excellent source of fiber, vitamin K (just one large leaf has four times the daily requirement), vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, potassium, magnesium, and manganese. It is a good source of vitamin E, copper, choline, calcium, and riboflavin.

Health Benefits

Like kale, spinach, and other dark, leafy greens, chard is highly nutritious. In fact, a CDC report on "powerhouse" vegetables gave chard a score of 89.27 (out of 100) in nutrient density.

That means it has high amounts, per calorie, of 17 "nutrients of public health importance:" potassium, fiber, protein, calcium, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, zinc, and vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and K. The report says these powerhouse foods could be protective against chronic diseases, such as cancer and heart disease.

Repairs Cell Damage

Some of that protection could come from chard's antioxidants, which help the body fight inflammation and cell damage. This, in turn, may help prevent or slow the progression of some diseases and infections.

Decreases Cardiovascular Disease Risk

Research shows an association between the consumption of leafy green vegetables and a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease. People who consumed more of these veggies were more than 15% less likely to have cardiovascular disease.

Slows Cognitive Decline

A study of almost 1,000 older people (ages 58 to 99) found that those who ate more leafy greens, even just one serving per day, had a slower rate of cognitive decline due to aging. People who consumed an average of 1.3 servings a day showed brain health comparable to people 11 years younger.

Low in FODMAPs

People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and Crohn's disease sometimes find relief from digestive symptoms when they follow a low-FODMAP diet. Chard is one of the vegetables that is allowed on this diet.

Provides Dairy-Free Calcium

Calcium is an essential mineral that helps build and protect bones and teeth. For people who can't eat dairy products, chard offers an alternate source of calcium. One cup of raw chard contains 18.4mg of calcium (about 2% of daily recommended intake).

Allergies

Although it is unusual, allergies to Swiss chard have been reported. In addition, if you have hay fever caused by mugwort pollen, you may experience oral allergy syndrome (OAS) when consuming chard. Symptoms include itchiness or swelling around the mouth. These usually subside when you stop eating chard. But, rarely, OAS can progress to anaphylaxis. Know the symptoms of anaphylaxis and seek immediate treatment if you experience them.

Adverse Effects

Chard is high in vitamin K, which helps regulate blood clotting. People who take certain blood thinners, such as Coumadin (warfarin), need to consume consistent amounts of vitamin K. If you are taking blood thinners, discuss your diet with your doctor. The right amount of dietary vitamin K varies from person to person.

Varieties

For a long time, the only variety of chard available was Swiss chard. Some newer varieties, such as red chard and rainbow chard, are a little less bitter to taste. They are slightly hardier than spinach, but still can be cooked very quickly on the stove. The stems are also edible, either raw or cooked, and the chopped stems can add color to a dish.

When It's Best

In the U.S., chard is in season in late summer and early fall (although you can usually buy imported chard year-round). Look for fresh, not wilted, dark green leaves and firm stems.

Storage and Food Safety

Store fresh chard in an open (unsealed) plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a week. Cooked chard will also keep for several days in a closed container in your refrigerator.

How to Prepare

Eat chard leaves fresh in a salad or smoothie, or add to soups along with or instead of other hearty greens like kale. In addition to recipes that specifically call for chard, it can be used as a substitute for spinach in many dishes. You can also wilt or sauté it with a little olive oil, garlic, and salt for a quick, easy, and nutritious side dish.

Recipes

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Chard, raw. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published April 1, 2019.

  2. Di Noia J. Defining powerhouse fruits and vegetables: A nutrient density approach. Prev Chronic Dis. 2014;11:E95. doi:10.5888/pcd11.130390

  3. Panche AN, Diwan AD, Chandra SR. Flavonoids: An overviewJ Nutr Sci. 2016;5:e47. doi:10.1017/jns.2016.41

  4. Pollock RL. The effect of green leafy and cruciferous vegetable intake on the incidence of cardiovascular disease: A meta-analysisJRSM Cardiovasc Dis. 2016;5. doi:10.1177/2048004016661435

  5. Morris MC, Wang Y, Barnes LL, Bennett DA, Dawson-Hughes B, Booth SL. Nutrients and bioactives in green leafy vegetables and cognitive decline: Prospective study. Neurology. 2018;90(3):e214-e222. doi:10.1212/WNL.0000000000004815

  6. Mohamed NA, Pineda De La Losa F, Castillo Fernandez M, Echechipla Madoz S, Zavala Segovia MJ, Tabar Purroy AI. Rhinoconjunctivitis induced by exposure to Swiss chard. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2019:143(2 Supp):AB75. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2018.12.232

  7. American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology. Oral allergy syndrome (OAS) or pollen fruit syndrome (PFS).