Rainbow Swiss chard, also known a 5-color Silverbeet and Bright Lights is a heritage leafy green often referred to as leaf beet. Chard is distinguished from beets by its lack of enlarged fleshy underground beet. A shared characteristic of both beets and Rainbow Swiss chard is a visible one. They both contain the compound, betalain. Betalains are nitrogen-containing water-soluble compounds that are found only in a limited number of plant lineages. To the naked eye they are simply pigments of red and yellow hues. But in nature, these betalains act as a source of survival, protecting the plant from UV rays while also attracting insects and bees for pollination.
Chard is known to be a nutritional powerhouse vegetable packed with vitamins, nutrients and health benefits. Rainbow Swiss chard contains high levels of vitamins C, K, E, beta-carotene and the minerals manganese and zinc. As noted, it also contains betalain. Betalin pigments have repeatedly been shown to support activity within the body’s detoxification process, activating and processing unwanted toxic substances. Betalians are not heat-stable, though, so longer cooking times can decrease their presence.
In the culinary world, Rainbow Swiss chard is used as a salad green and a leaf vegetable, making it a versatile ingredient in the kitchen. It can be used both raw and cooked; cooking will give the leaves a milder flavor. Chard, in general, is used as a substitute for spinach and in tandem with other hardy greens such as kale, leaf mustards and collards. Complimentary ingredients include citrus, garlic, tomatoes, peppers, olive oil, grains such as rice and barley, artichokes, beets, roasted meats and chicken, bacon, cream, cheeses such as pecorino and parmesan and herbs such as basil and arugula.