RFTH Red Chard

Real Foods that Heal
volume 1, #8
February 24, 2008

Red Chard

We move this week into the realm of green leafy vegetables as a strategy for reducing breast cancer risk. This is a wonderful area to explore for many reasons, not the least of which is the delicious variety available for your dining pleasure here! Women who like the idea of eating a really good salad or making dinner colorful and appetizing with a bright array of cooked greens will love the real health benefits of these delicious greens as well.

Studies on dietary reduction of breast cancer risk give special importance to the roles of carotenoids and folic acid. A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in 1999 showed that the more alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and lutein/zeaxanthin women consumed from foods, the lower their breast cancer risk. These are natural carotenoids found in high levels in carrots, dandelion greens, red peppers, collards, chard, and other green leafy vegetables. Chard is especially high in these natural carotenoids, and is also high in vitamins C, K, and magnesium. It is not especially high in folate like other green leafy vegetables, but is an exceptionally good source of the natural carotenoids which promote so many aspects of health by their powerful antioxidant capacity. One cup of cooked chard provides more than double the daily requirement for vitamin A, without any risk of overdose because it is the natural form, not as preformed vitamin A which you may find in less expensive vitamin pills.

Chard may be found in groceries as several different colors: red, yellow, or rainbow colored refer to the color of the thick stem. The leaves are large, green and slightly curly for all of them. The nutritional benefits are the same for all, so the color you choose is really a matter of how you would like your dinner to appear. Don’t get hung up about which type to choose, as the general principle still applies: the higher your diet in all fruits and vegetables, the lower your cancer risk across the board.


Steamed Red Chard

Rinse a large bunch of chard, and cut off just the very bottom inch of the tough stem with a knife. Fold the leaf longways (like a paper airplane) and lay flat on a cutting board to cut slices across the leaf and the stem. The large pieces of stem below the leaf can be cut as well into short segments similar to celery. Place all the pieces, stem and leaf, into a steamer over boiling water, and put a lid on. Stir gently in a minute if needed, and in a very short time it will be cooked down and tender, but still dark green and fresh tasting. Do not overcook, as it may become bitter. No seasoning is required, and it makes a delicious side vegetable dish with any meal.

To your health,


Robert Pendergrast, MD



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