Simply put, kale is a super food. It is chalked full of a variety of vitamins and minerals that have wildly varying positive effects on the body. And, it’s delicious to boot! For some, that may be hard to believe, but by adding more kale to your diet you’ll feel better and your daily meals will become even tastier than they already are.
Kale History and Culture
Kale has made the rounds. As a member of the brassica family, and more directly descending from cabbage, kale immigrated to Europe from Asia in around 600 BC. It was a stable vegetable of households in Roman times, and was popular with peasants in the Middle Ages. It made its way to the United States via Russia in the 19th century, and became popularized by the Dig for Victory campaign as an easy to grow, highly nutritious vegetable during war time rationing.
Kale Nutritional Facts
Kale stands out among its vegetable peers as being one of the most vitamin rich. Kale has large quantities of Vitamins A, C, and K, as well as generous helpings of manganese and dietary fiber, and a bit of protein to boot.
Why Eat Kale?
Kale has proven anti-cancer properties, illustrated in a number of studies over the years. These include colon, ovarian, prostate, breast, and bladder cancer. These properties are linked to its high concentration of antioxidants, more specifically, carotenoid, flavonoids and glucosinolates.
Kale also has high levels of anti-inflammatory agents, namely its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. A mere 100 calories of kale is enough to provide you with 25-35% of your daily recommended intake. 1 chopped cup of kale also has 684% of your daily intake of vitamin K, also a proven anti-inflammatory agent.
Kale will help lower LDL cholesterols (the bad cholesterol), as well. Kale can even hold its own right along side some prescription cholesterol lowering medications. A study showed that kale performed the same task 42% as effectively – not bad for a vegetable that comes straight from nature! This same study shows that kale’s ability to reduce cholesterol is vastly increased when steamed, although it will still to the trick – albeit to a lesser degree – when eaten raw or cooked in other fashions.
Take all these health benefits, and add their detoxification and digestive qualities, and the result is a super food.
Eating More Kale
Clearly, adding more kale to your diet will greatly benefit your health. Incorporating more of it into your diet is simple. To receive the awesome benefits of kale, try eating at least 2-3, 1-1/2 cup servings a week. If you find yourself enjoying kale, up this to 4-5, 2 cup servings a week.
The first step in this process is to simply buy it. Go to your grocery store, and take a look around the produce section. Most grocery stores now carry kale, but if they don’t, head to a health grocer or local co-op, as they will surely carry it. More likely than not, they’ll have a few varieties, with some that are curly, some flat, some green, some purple. Dinosaur kale (Lacionato kale) is not only awesome due to its name, but is sweeter than most other varieties and will keep longer without spoiling. It’s also purported to have more vitamins and nutrients. All varieties of kale, though, will be tasty and nutritious, so got nuts and try them all.
There are all sorts of recipes out there that will help you prepare the kale in all manner of ways. Check out this recipe here for our recipe for kale chips (light and crunchy!). For daily kale consumption, simply finely chopping kale and toss it into your salad with dinner. Eating salads completely composed of kale is not uncommon- just toss with oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. You can also sauté it with any number of vegetables. Add it to your pasta sauce. Throw it in a stir fry. Fry it up with your eggs in the morning.
Growing your own kale is an easy and satisfying task, as it is a very forgiving vegetable. Get a big planter (a 5 gallon bucket will do), get a transplant, find some sun, and watch it grow. Kale will continue to provide leaves for months at a time, so you can cross it off your shopping list for a long time to come. It will also be at its peak freshness when consumed, providing even more nutrients and fine flavors.