Kale is one of the green leafy dietary wonders of the world. Many consider this cabbage family elder the "Queen of Greens". It has an amazing nutrient profile and is full of remarkable health benefits. Consuming kale can aid in prevention of cancer, lowering of cholesterol, cardiovascular and digestive system support.
The majestic Queen of the Greens
Brassica oleracea (Kale) like it's other vegetable relatives - brussel sprouts and cabbage have gained widespread praise due to their wellness promoting qualities. Good Raw Kale provides health benefits due to its anti - oxidant nutrients, its anti-inflammatory compounds, vital micro-nutrients and cancer preventing nutrients. The calories in Kale are also minimal in comparison to the its packed nutritional value.
KALE NUTRIONAL VALUE
The USDA Data Base reveals that a 1 cup serving has 36 calories, 2.6 grams of fiber, 2.5 grams of protein, 7.4 grams of carbohydrates, it has good amounts of manganese having 20 % of daily allowance, and other minerals such as iron, magnesium, potassium and phosphorous. It has a massive amount of vitamins A 10,302 IU or 206 % daily value and vitamin K 547mcg or 684 % daily value and good amounts of vitamin C 41mg or 49% of daily value. It is also a good vegetable source of omega -3 fatty acids and omega - 6 as well.
Paul Pitchford in his book Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition says:
"Kale is a hardy cold-weather green whose flavor becomes sweeter with a touch of frost. It is an exceptional source of chlorophyll, calcium, iron and vitamin A during it's growing season in fall, winter, and early spring"
KALE'S PREVENTION OF OXIDATIVE STRESS AND CHRONIC INFLAMMATION
Oxidative stress and chronic inflammation are signs of impaired bodily functions that are implicated in a higher possibility of causing cancer and also other illnesses such as cardiovascular disease. Our bodies ability to mitigate oxidative stress and prevent chronic inflammation is increased when we consume a diet full of antioxidant rich food such as kale.
ANTI-OXIDANTS ROLE IN CANCER & DISEASE PREVENTION
The anti-oxidants that are found in good amounts in kale are carotenoids and flavonoids. Chief carotenoids are lutein and beta-carotene. Lutein in particular is beneficial for eye health and prevention of macular degeneration and is one of the reason vegetables such as kale have been studied for their prevention of glaucoma. The major flavanoids are kaempferol and quercitin, and recent research has shown that here is over 45 phenolic compounds on offer. The spectrum is impressive and may have greater implications for well being than what we have discovered. A study on kale juice consumption on GreenMed Info drew the following conclusions:
"Regular meals supplementation with kale juice can favorably influence serum lipid profiles and antioxidant systems, and hence contribute to reduce the risks of coronary artery disease in male subjects with hyperlipidemia."
VITAMIN K AND OMEGA - 3 FATTY ACIDS KEY IN INFLAMMATION PREVENTION
Kale is seeping with Vitamin K, no other vegetable has such a high content. It is known for lowering our risk of chronic inflammation and associated health problems. Kale has good levels of omega - 3 fatty acids which again are known inflammation reducers.
CANCER PREVENTATIVE COMPOUNDS KNOWN AS GLUCOSINOLATES
Within kale is sulfur-containing phytonutrients known as glucosinolates. These are broken down in the body to compounds known as Isothiocyanate ( ITC's). A GreenMed Info study suggests that glucosinolates are:
" the metabolic breakdown products of which are potent modulators of xenobiotic-metabolizing enzymes that protect DNA from damage. "
This makes kale a potent enhancer for the bodies natural detoxifying process. The glucosinolates in kale can be tied to prevention of cancers such as prostate, ovarian, breast, colon and bladder.
FIBER IN KALE COMBINED WITH PHYTONUTRIENTS SUPPORT DIGESTIVE HEALTH
Kale has a good amount of fiber, there is about 7 grams per 100 calories and everyone knows what a crucial role fiber plays in consistently good intestinal functioning. The glucosinolates are also believed to help protect our stomach lining from bacterial overgrowth of Helicobacter pylori. Paul Pitchford in his book Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition says about kale:
" An ancient member of the cabbage family, it also has an abundant sulfur and its juice can be used to treat stomach and duodenal ulcers."
TIPS FOR CONSUMING KALE
Kales comes in several or more varieties all of which vary in appearance, taste and texture. The leaves can vary from a deep green to bluish green and purple. There is red russian kale, redbor, dinosaur kale, curly kale to name a few.
- Do not wash before storage.
- Keep in the crisper of refrigerator.
- Some people like to wrap the kale in a damp paper towel and place it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. We find it stores fine in the plastic bag its purchased in, without the wrapping.
- Kale is best eaten within 1 - 2 days of purchase, but can store for 7 days if needed.
- Wash leaves under cool running water to remove any residue, dirt or sand.
- The leaves and stems can be consumed.
- If recipe calls for the leaves only. You can break separate the leaves from the stem with your hands or use a small knife to do so.
- Put kale in smoothies and juices.
- Chop kale and create a salad with ingredients of choice.
- Place kale on pizza as a topping.
- Kale can be sautéed in light olive oil.
The benefits of Kale are wide ranging when included in a healthy balanced diet. Daily consumption of the vegetable kale cannot be more highly recommended! Check out Green Smoothie recipes here.
PAUL PITCHFORD - Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition
GREEN MED INFO - A higher intake of certain fruits and vegetables may be associated with a decreased risk of glaucoma.
GREEN MED INFO - Collard greens, kale and Chinese broccoli have a wide range of phenolic components.
GREEN MED INFO - Kale juice significantly improves blood lipid profiles in hypercholesterolemic men.