A nutritional powerhouse, the leafy green kale is becoming known as ‘the new beef’ and ‘the queen of greens’ in recognition of its exceptional nutrient richness, health benefits and delicious flavor.
Grocery stores nowadays typically stock a variety of kale known as Tuscan, Italian black or dinosaur kale, with smoother leaves and a divine mellow flavor.
Regularly consuming a wide variety of natural, unprocessed vegetables has many wide-ranging benefits for your health - and choosing super-nutritious kale on a regular basis has massive health benefits, including cancer protection and lowered cholesterol.
Kale, also known as borecole, is one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet. It belongs to the Brassica family that includes cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, collards, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
What makes kale so exceptional? Let us count the ways.
- One cup of chopped kale contains 33 calories and 9% of the daily recommended allowance of calcium, 206% of vitamin A, 134% of vitamin C and a whopping 684% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of copper, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus.
- Kale’s health benefits are mainly linked to the high concentrations it contains of antioxidant vitamins A, C and K as well as its sulphur-containing phytonutrients.
- Carotenoids and flavonoids are the specific antioxidants associated with many of kale’s anti-cancer health benefits. Kale is also rich in the eye-health promoting lutein and zeaxanthin compounds.
- Beyond antioxidants, the fiber in kale binds to bile acids and helps to lower blood cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of heart disease - especially when kale is cooked instead of raw.
- Kale is also super-rich in vitamin K, which is why regular kale consumption is believed to reduce the overall risk of developing or dying from cancer. Vitamin K is also found in parsley, spinach, collard greens and cheese and is necessary for normal blood clotting, antioxidant activity as well as bone health.
- Consuming too much kale can pose problems for people taking anticoagulants such as warfarin, the high levels of vitamin K may interfere with the drugs - so it’s always a wise idea to consult your doctor before adding kale to your diet.
Although vegetable choices abound in summer, there are fewer in-season choices during fall and winter other than kale and other dark, leafy greens that thrive in cooler weather.
To find the freshest kale, look for firm, deeply colored leaves with hardy stems. Smaller leaves are generally more tender and milder in flavor. In general, kale leaves range from dark green to purple to deep red in color.