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The three most common forms of chard are Swiss chard, with its green leaves and white stalks, red or rhubarb chard, known for its distinctly red stems and red ribbed leaves, and rainbow chard, the most ornate of the group. The three can be used interchangeably in most recipes and as a substitute for spinach or beet greens in most recipes.

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Chard wilts quickly and should be eaten within a few days. If your chard does begin to wilt, you can soak it in water at room temperature for an hour and then place it in a plastic container with a lid in the refrigerator to crisp. Chard should be stored in the high humidity drawer of your refrigerator.

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Origins and Culture

Chard belongs to the same family as beets and spinach and shares a similar taste profile: it has the bitterness of beet greens and the slightly salty flavor of spinach leaves. Both the leaves and stalk of chard are edible.

References to chard are found in the writings of Aristotle and historically chard has been eaten for thousands of years in Asia Minor, the Middle East, Greece and Italy.

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Nutritional and Medicinal Properties

Like most leafy greens, chard is a very good source of vitamin A. It contains 26% of the recommended daily allowance for Vitamin C and is a good source of magnesium, iron, potassium and calcium. It is also a good source of beta-carotene, which helps the immune system fight viruses, cancers, and other challenges. Chard helps the heart by slowing the oxidation of the LDL--"bad" cholesterol, which, when it oxidizes, leaves deposits on the artery walls.

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Basic Cooking Instructions

Chard combines well with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, nuts and butter. For a quick serving idea, try tossing penne pasta with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and chopped steamed Swiss chard.

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