Family: Kale belongs to the Brassica family, a group of vegetables that includes cabbage, collards and brussels sprouts.
Kale is easy to grow and can grow in colder temperatures where a light frost will produce especially sweet kale leaves. The red, yellow and purple heads varieties of kale are used more often for decorative purposes (both in the garden and on the table) than as a food, all varieties are edible and highly nutritious.
Season: Although it can be found in markets throughout the year, it is in season from the middle of winter through the beginning of spring when it has a sweeter taste and is more widely available.
Health Benefits of Kale:
- Excellent source of fiber, which is important for people who suffer from elevated cholesterol levels and in helping cleanse the colon.
- Contains seven times the beta-carotene of broccoli, carotenoid keep UV rays from damaging the eyes causing cataracts.
- Rich source of well-absorbed calcium, a mineral that is important to prevent osteoporosis.
- Contains a powerful phytochemical sulforaphane which helps boost body’s detoxification enzymes, thus helping to clear potentially carcinogenic substances more quickly. Sulforaphane is formed when cruciferous vegetables like kale are chopped or chewed.
- Contains indoles, compounds that can lessen the cancer-causing potential of estrogen.
- High in vitamin K, a fat-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in blood clotting.
- Contains little calories, has no saturated fat, and does not causes widespread allergic reactions like many dairy products do.
- Rich source of folate and vitamin B6
Nutrient Content of Kale: Per cup of raw kale
- Vitamin A: 10,302IU
- Vitamin B6: 0.2mg
- Vitamin C: 81mg
- Vitamin E: 5mg
- Vitamin K: 547mcg
- Calcium: 135mg
- Potassium: 450mg
- Iron: 2mg
- Folate: 30mcg (micrograms)
- Sodium: 29mg
- Protein: 2g
- Fiber: more than 1g
- Calories: 50
Buying Tip: When buying choose kale with small leaves as they are more tender and has a sweeter taste.
Cooking Tip: The typical way of preparing kale is to cook it. To preserve its rich stores of vitamins A and C, cook kale quickly in minimal water; it can be steamed, chopped, and stir fried with other vegetables, or simmered until tender in broth. Steaming method of cooking retains the most phytonutrients, and also maximizes their availability within the body.
Kale Side Effects: May cause gas in some people.
“This post was originally published on January 9, 2012 @ 20:18″