Kale has suddenly become a very fashionable vegetable with its many health and nutritional benefits and delicious flavor. One of the healthiest vegetables you can eat, kale is also known as borecole and this leafy green comes in curly, ornamental or dinosaur varieties. It belongs to the same family as those other invaluable brassicas – cabbage, collards, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
10 good reasons to include kale in your diet
- Antioxidants – full of carotenoids and flavonoids, two powerful antioxidants that protect our cells from free radicals that cause oxidative stress.
- Anti-inflammatory – just one cup of kale provides about 10% of the RDA of omega-3 fatty acids that helps regulate the body’s inflammatory process plus being rich in vitamin K further helps in the fight against any inflammatory-related problems such as arthritis, autoimmune disorders and asthma.
- Anti-cancer – the presence of the flavonoids kaempferol and quercitin (plus a further 45 other flavonoids in kale) have been shown to specifically fight against the formation of cancerous cells. Kale also provides glucosinolates, which have been shown to prevent colon, breast, bladder, prostate, ovarian cancers, as well as gastric cancer.
- High fiber - the fiber content of cruciferous kale especially when eaten raw binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol levels while reducing the risk of heart disease. The high fiber also helps to create the bulk you need to fill you up and to keep you full for longer.
- Detox - the isothiocyanates from glucosinolates found in kale greatly aid the body’s detoxification process. The high sulfur content of kale has further been shown essential for phase 2 of any detoxification.
- Beta-carotene – this together with other important carotenoids - lutein and zeaxathin - all help to protect the eyes from damage from UV rays and from cataracts.
- Vitamin K – if you can eat a diet rich in the powerful antioxidant vitamin K you can reduce the overall risk of developing or dying from cancer. Kale is rich in Vitamin K which can also be found in parsley, spinach, collard greens as well as cheese. Often considered to be the forgotten vitamin, vitamin K is necessary for a wide variety of bodily functions, including normal blood clotting, antioxidant activity and bone health. Strengthening the composition of our bones, vitamin K also prevents calcium build-up in our tissue. Vitamin K is essential for synthesizing sphingolipid, the fat needed to maintain the myelin sheath around our nerves and our nervous system as a whole.
- Vitamin A – just 100 g of kale leaves provide 512% of RDA of vitamin A which is necessary for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin while being essential for vision. Further, foods rich in this vitamin A offer protection against lung and oral cavity cancers.
- Vitamin C – the same amount of fresh kale leaves contain 200% of RDA of vitamin C with the Scottish curly leaf variety offering even high levels. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, which helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful oxygen free radicals.
- Calcium, vitamin B6, magnesium, copper, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus are all found in kale.The manganese in kale helps your body's own antioxidant defence system protect you from damaging free radicals while its folate and B6 team up to help prevent heart disease, dementia and osteoporosis bone fractures. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids helping to control heart rate and blood pressure by countering effects of sodium or processed salt. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme while iron is required for cellular oxidation and red blood cell formation.
Kale is a nutritional powerhouse so try to find ways to work it into your diet
You might decide to grow your own supply of kale. It is an annual plant, flourishing well in rich organic soil and preferring a cool climate and light frost conditions. So it is grown mainly for autumn and winter harvest because cool weather further enhances its sweet taste quality
Natural tip to protect your veggie garden from destructive insects
Mix 2 tablespoons of red-pepper powder and 6 drops of liquid soap in 1 gallon of water. Let the mixture sit overnight and stir thoroughly. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle, shake well and spray weekly on the tops and bottoms of the leaves.
How to serve kale in the kitchen
For preparing and serving kale, you can use it in much the same way as you would spinach. It should be washed thoroughly in clean running water and even swished in saline water for about 10-15 minutes in order to remove soil, dirt and any fungicide/insecticide residues. Remove any tough stems or wilted leaves.
- Fresh young crispy borecole can be used raw in salads.
- Mature leaves and stalks are typically steamed or sautéed.
- Tuscan kale leaves are popular winter staples all over the Mediterranean, used in soups (ribollita toscana), stews, salads, pizza and pasta.
- Kale leaves can also be used in a variety of traditional kale recipes with potatoes, green beans, poultry, and meat.
Eating a variety of natural, unprocessed vegetables can do wonders for your health, but choosing super-nutritious kale on a regular basis may provide significant health benefits.