Rhubarb and Swiss chard – they’re both leafy red stalks of vegetables. So, what’s the difference?
Although I don’t set out to make the Difference Between posts a competition, inevitably sometimes there’s a winner. And this is one of those times.
- Rhubarb: any of several plants belonging to the genus Rheum, of the buckwheat family, as R. officianle, having a medicinal rhizome, and R. rhabarbarum, having edible leafstalks; the edible, fleshy leafstalks of R. rhabarbarum, used in making pies, preserves, etc.
- Swiss chard (redirected to chard): a variety of beet, Beta vulgaris cicla, having leaves and leafstalks that are used as a vegetable; also called Swiss chard, leaf beat.
From the definitions we don’t learn too much, other than rhubarb is often utilized as a fruit, while Swiss chard is more vegetable-like, related to the beet family. Although not specified above, Swiss chard is also often compared to spinach.
In fact, there are several different varieties of Swiss chard, two of which could be confused for rhubarb: rainbow and ruby red. Rainbow Swiss chard is sometimes red, and ruby red Swiss chard is always red; ruby red is also called (appropriately) rhubarb Swiss chard.
Swiss chard has a darker, more vein-y leaf. It fits into the spinach and other greens category.
Rhubarb’s leaves are not as vibrant of a green, and furthermore, they cannot be eaten. Although both rhubarb and Swiss chard contain oxalic acid, the leaves of rhubarb contain significant enough amounts that it can be fatal.
Taste-wise, rhubarb is highly tart and acidic, which is why it’s typically combined with a sweet fruit, such as strawberries, in a pie. Swiss chard is compared to spinach, as mentioned before, but it’s generally considered to be better tasting, with a meaty, earthy flavor, according to Vegetables Revised.
Nutrition-wise, Swiss chard by far comes out on top. World’s Healthiest Foods (which does not even include rhubarb in their extensive list) explains that: “Calorie for calorie Swiss chard is one of the most nutritious vegetables around.”
Moreover, Swiss chard contains high levels of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, E, and K; outstanding phytonutrient antioxidants; anti-inflammatory enzymes; calcium; and magnesium.
Comparatively, rhubarb, as described by RhubarbInfo.com, contains a decent amount of potassium, small amounts of vitamins, and is rich in calcium, vitamin C, and dietary fiber. Although, the calcium is combined with the oxalic acid and is therefore not as easily absorbed by the body.
Clearly, we have our winner. Swiss chard is more flavorful and significantly more nutritious than rhubarb. Unless you’re making a pie, go with the Swiss chard.
Side note: While researching this post, I came across more than one person who had bought rhubarb instead of Swiss chard, or vice versa. In addition, there was a seed company who used the same picture for both vegetables.