All Hail The Mighty Green Kale
It is lauded as one of Earth’s healthiest edible substances: packed with vitamins, minerals, and cancer-fighting phytonutrients — it’s also incredibly versatile. It’s great in soups and smoothies and almost everything in between. I am talking about kale, the hearty and dark green traditional dinner plate garnish. Kale has certainly earned much respect from a side garnish onto the main dish that other ingredients accompany.
This is because it is such a great source of:
■ Vitamin A
– great for eyesight and eye, skin, lungs, respiratory system,and nose membranes, AND is an antioxidant that fights free radicals.
■ Vitamin C
– great for cold prevention and immunity boosting
■ Vitamin K
– aids in blood clotting, is great for bone health and protects against liver and prostate cancer
In fact, just one portion of kale is only 36 calories but it provides a massive 192% of your daily vitamin A needs! Kale is also an excellent source of Vitamin C, too. A daily portion provides 89% of the daily vitamin C requirement.
Vitamin C is associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer. In addition it is also connected with reducing free radicals that trigger inflammatory diseases and is therefore associated with the reduction of severe problems such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and asthma.
One portion of kale will cater for 10.5% of your daily fiber requirements. Fiber is important for our bodies because fiber helps reduce cholesterol and prevents arteries from becoming clogged up. It also aids in keeping blood sugars under control, so great for people with diabetes. Fiber can also give relief to people with irritable bowel syndrome as it aids constipation and diarrhea and provides protection against colon cancer.
Kale is also full of calcium! It is also labeled the King of Calcium. This is great news for people who are allergic or intolerant to dairy products. Kale provides a great source of calcium, though not as high in calcium as cow’s milk. Kale does not have the saturated fat associated with cow’s dairy milk, so it is excellent for kids in helping with bone development and of prevents osteoporosis in adults, too.
Kale is also famous for its carotenoids, especially zeaxanthin and lutein, as these can be a great protector against cataracts.
Lutein is a very powerful antioxidant; it has a yellow pigment (the yellow is covered up by chlorophyll in green leaves) with newly discovered powers to fight disease.
Most adults eat about 1 milligram of lutein a day. Experts recommend at least 4-6mg of that powerful disease fighter.
Kale also contains sulphoraphane, which only becomes apparent when cruciferous veggies such as kale, cabbage and broccoli are chewed or chopped.
Sulphoraphane encourages the liver to produce enzymes that detoxify cancer causing chemicals, especially those connected to chemically-induced breast cancer and colon cancer. Many studies have also shown that sulphoraphane may protect against genetic cancers too.
Kale is very low and calories and inexpensive too! It comes in several varieties but the ones you’ll see most often are curly kale and dinosaur (flat) kale, both in beautiful hues of green and purple. Choose a bunch that has strong, crisp leaves with no brown spots, and store in your refrigerator in a large plastic bag with a moist paper towel.
Here are five ways to prepare the green superfood:
1. Steam (the best way to preserve photochemical and nutrients). Bring about 1/2 cup of water in a large pot to a boil. Put the lid on the pot and steam until kale is tender (7-10 minutes). Then season with salt and pepper, lemon juice, olive oil, or soy sauce.
2. Roast or dehydrate. Place the DRY leaves in a baking dish and toss with olive oil. Bake in 450 oven for 5-10 minutes until leaves are crispy, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with salt and serve.
3. Soup. Make a soup out of one head of garlic peeled and chopped, one onion chopped, 1 bunch kale de-stemmed and chopped, 2 medium potatoes chopped, 2 carrots diced, any other veggies you like, and 8 cups veggie broth. Saute the garlic and onions first, and then combine everything in a big soup pot. Simmer until potatoes are tender. As an option, add rice vinegar, salt, and / or pepper and season to taste.
4. Smoothie. Make your favorite smoothie, and add in tiny pieces of kale. Start with 1/2 a handful and then add more if you like.
5. Sauté the leaves in sesame oil and garlic until they are limp and bright, and serve sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds. For an extra popping flavor, add pesto and olive oil to pasta and add in a heaping serving of delicious kale!
Resources: WebMD.com, MindBodyGreen.com, whfoods.com, antioxidants-guide.com