Kale, a nutrient powerhouse, is arguably one of the healthiest foods on the planet. In just one cup of cooked kale, there is 1327% of the recommended vitamin K, 355% recommended vitamin A, and 89% of the recommended vitamin C.

Disease/Ailments:

Elevated cholesterol
Cancer prevention
Chronic inflammatory diseases
Immune disorders

Health benefits:

Anti-inflammatory: The omega-3s in kale are important anti-inflammatory components. In only 100 calories, kale provides 25-35% of the National Academy of Sciences’ recommendation for omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid.

Antioxidant: Kale is extremely concentrated with carotenoids and flavonoids, two phytonutrients that have potent antioxidant capabilities. Two carotenoids, lutein and beta-carotene, demonstrate the ability to protect against oxidative stress and health conditions that may result from oxidative stress. Some diseases that may result are cataracts, atherosclerosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Cancer prevention: Kale has been studied the most extensively in relation to cancer preventative properties. Kale is unique in its high concentration of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients. There are also high concentrations of glucosinolates, phytochemicals that are converted to enzymes that exhibit anti-cancer properties.  Kale is a top food for at least four glucosinates.

Cardiovascular benefits: The liver uses cholesterol produced in the body and provided in the diet to produce bile salts. Bile acids are specialized molecules that aid in the digestion and absorption of fat through a process called emulsification. The fiber content of kale binds bile acids and eliminates it through the feces. When this happens, the liver needs to replace the lost bile acids by drawing out of the existing cholesterol and thus lowers the blood cholesterol levels.

Detoxification: The detoxification process involves two phases. Isothiocyanates made from the phytonutrients glucosinolates in kale, are involved in regulating the detoxification activities in both phases. In addition, kale provides sulfur, an important nutrient in Phase II.

Good source of:

Vitamin K, A, C, manganese, fiber, copper

Purchasing, storing, & enjoying:

Purchasing: Kale comes in three main varieties: curly, ornamental, and Dinosaur kale. Look for firm and deep colored leaves that are not wilted or bruised. Stems should be moist and hardy. Smaller leaves are more tender and have a milder flavor than large leaves. Kale is available year-round but its peak season is from mid-winter to the beginning of spring.
Storing: Place unwashed kale in an airtight plastic bag and store in the refrigerator where it can keep fresh for up to 5 days. The longer it is stored, the more bitter the flavor will be.
Enjoying:

  • For the maximum nutritional benefits, sprinkle the kale with lemon juice and let it sit for 5 minutes before cooking. The healthiest and most flavorful method for cooking kale is steaming.
  • Kale can be bitter when eaten raw. When using it in salads, sprinkle some salt and oil over it and massage it until it has reduced significantly and is a deep green color. The bitterness should be significantly reduced.
  • Try putting a handful of kale in your fruit smoothie for an extra boost of nutrients. The sweetness of the fruit masks any taste of bitterness from the kale.

Resources & recipes:

Raw kale chips: http://thedeliciousrevolution.com/uncategorized/best-raw-vegan-kale-chip-recipe-ever/
Kale salad with creamy dressing: http://kblog.lunchboxbunch.com/2013/04/5-step-raw-kale-salad.html
Tuscan kale and white bean soup: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/vegetarian-tuscan-kale-and-white-bean-soup
Mediterranean kale salad: http://www.learnrawfood.com/my_tags/comments/mediterranean_kale_salad/#.UZFlXWQ__AI


About the Author

Ashley Kim

"Our bodies are our gardens—our wills are our gardeners." – William Shakespeare

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