Kale is a vegetable that is a member of the cabbage family. Unlike regular cabbage, its leaves fan out and grow into a lose rosette without forming a head. It is closely related to the other Brassica oleracea species which include cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
Kale comes in two forms – regular kale which is identified by its smooth leaves and curly kale, which has crinkly and curly leaves, which can either be green or purplish blue. Curly kale is more popular and is more common among the two.
Kale is a very healthy vegetable and has a very low glycemic index. One cup of kale contains only 36 calories, but gives you a powerful combination of vitamins and minerals. In fact, one cup gives you more than 1000% of your daily requirement of Vitamin K as well as 98.3% of all your daily Vitamin A and 71% of your daily Vitamin C needs.
Aside from these vitamins, it also gives you a strong combination of other healthy nutrients like manganese, copper, fiber, calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, protein, folate, Vitamins B1, B6 and E as well as omega-3 fatty acids.
Health Benefits Of Kale
Because kale has just gained popularity among dieters, it is not as well researched as its counterparts like cabbage or broccoli. However, its exceptional nutritional content can already tell you something – it’s good for you!
Most of its benefits are centered and clustered into three: anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidation and anti-cancer. Some of these health benefits include the following:
- Kale lowers cholesterol due to its fiber-related components which improve bile acid secretion, which in turn help lower your cholesterol level. This effect is usually seen with mildly steamed or quickly boiled kale.
- Kale helps prevent cancer with its high concentration of flavonoids and carotenoids, which are popular antioxidants.
- Kale contains glucosinate which reduces risk of cancer, including these five types: breast, ovary, bladder, prostate and colon cancer.
- Kale contains up to 45 different flavonoids which provides anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which helps reduce chronic inflammation and oxidation-induced stressed.
- Kale contains plenty of basic omega-3 fatty acids, requiring the intake of only 100 calories to get as much as 350 milligrams of the fatty acids
- Kale is very rich in Vitamin K and provides over 1000% of daily vitamin K needs per cup of kale. Vitamin K helps regulate the body’s anti-inflammatory process, thus lowering the risk for chronic inflammation and health problems that arise from it.
Cooking and Eating Kale
Kale is one of the healthiest vegetables you can have, and gives you a big bang of nutrients and antioxidants for each cup or plate that you eat. While it is great to have variety when it comes to the vegetables that you eat, you should aim to get at least 1 to ½ cups of cruciferous veggies like this one twice or thrice a week. If you can increase your intake, then the better results you are bound to have.
Kale can have a strong taste, but you can enjoy it by cooking it properly. To ensure even cooking, prepare the kale by removing the leaves from the stalk, then trimming away the tough center. Wash the leaves thoroughly and chop them up.
Too much heat can start to destroy its nutrient content, so experts recommend a quick 5 minute steam to evenly and quickly cook the vegetable. You can also boil the leaves for two minutes until they have thoroughly wilted, then drain the water thoroughly before preparing it. Alternatively, you may want to add fresh, raw kale into your diet through salads or as an ingredient in your detox drinks.
This vegetable is available throughout the year, you can best get them from September to February.
When choosing kale, pick out heads that are on the smaller side, since they tend to be tenderer than those with larger heads. Check out the color and the texture of the leaves. They should be bright and have a crisp to it.
If you can’t find kale in your local store, you can try these alternatives: sweet potato greens, rainbow chard, red or wild cabbage and collard greens. Or, you can also opt for other cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts.