Beneficial Foods 1.3 – Kale
Kale is a veggie that many people talk about these days. It has been labeled a superfood, chefs around the world are trying to get it into as many recipes as possible, and many of us feel like we should be getting into our diets. And yet once we bring it home, many don’t know what the heck to do with it. An easy go-to is chop it and put it in a salad, it’s a leafy veggie right? But there are so many possibilities if you are willing to just go with the flow here.
Kale was first found in the cool sandy soil in Easter Mediterranean growing wild and free. It is the grandfather to many of the other brassica species that we have come to love like; collards, cabbage, broccoli, kohlrabi, and brussels sprouts and comes in many colors, sizes,and textures.(3) There are 3 popular varieties; Curly or Scots which is the green curly stuff most people are most familiar with, Lacinato or Dinosaur which is dark green with large flat crinkled leaves, and Red or Red Russian which has the beautiful purple hued leaves and stems. It’s peak growing season is winter through early spring when it is at its sweetest.
Kale’s peak season is to our advantage with it’s plentiful nutrients to help get us through the cold and flu season. The vitamin and mineral count in this one plant is amazing!
Vitamin A – 20%RDA
Vitamin B – 3%RDA
Vitamin B2 – 3%RDA
Vitamin B3 – 3%RDA
Vitamin B6 – 9%RDA
Vitamin B9 – No RDA info
Vitamin C – 134%RDA
Vitamin E – 7%RDA
Vitamin K – 684% RDA
Fiber – 10%RDA
Folate – 4%RDA
Omega 3’s – 5%RDA
Protein – 4.9%RDA (one cup cooked kale)
Calcium – 9%RDA
Copper – 10%RDA
Iron – 3%RDA
Manganese – 6%RDA
Magnesium – 6%RDA
Phosphorus – 3%RDA
Potassium – 9%RDA
The percentages are from a couple of combined sources, if there is no percentage I could not find one. Unless specified percentages were for 1 cup of raw kale.(1,2,3,4)
The calcium content is kale is more easily assimilated into the body. It is suggested that if enough kale is consumed the need for calcium from animal products would be diminished severely, but no specific amount was given.(2)
To help with the bioavailability of the iron in kale consume it with citrus fruits like lemons and oranges.(2) This will add to the, already high, vitamin C content.(1)
Kale contains 9 essential amino acids, similar to many kinds of meat. A very important one is alpha-linoleic acid or ALA. ALA is vital for brain health, boosts heart health and helps decrease the risk for type 2 diabetes.(2) The protein content, like the calcium, is helpful for vegans who do not get these nutrients through animal products. The protein is also in an easy to digest form which is always a nice change for us omnivores too!
The omega 3’s and sulfur can contribute to improving skin appearance by removing toxins from the skin, increasing the collagen productions and scar reduction. They are also great to sustain energy.(3,5) This is why many people include kale in a detox program, the glucosinolates can clear out the wastes at the cellular level without depleting your energy levels.(4)
45 types of flavanoids have been identified in kale. Flavanoids can help with protecting the cardiovascular system, lowering blood pressure, be anti-inflammatory and antiviral, help with decreasing depression and have anti-cancer effects in lab test results.(1,4)
Carotenoids are also massively helpful. The stand-outs in kale are lutein and beta-carotene which both work to help the body battle oxidative stress.(4)
There are several different ways to prepare kale for consumption; raw, steamed and sauteing are the best options to get the most out of kale without destroying the nutrient content. Raw is the usually the best option for veggie consumption to have the nutrients completely intact, but it can cause gas and bloating which is most prevalent if you already have digestive issues. Also, if you have thyroid issues, eating kale in a cooked for can reduce the amount of goitrogens which can affect the absorption of iodine, suppressing the thyroid function. Steaming can help bind the kale with bile acids helping to reduce cholesterol.(2,3,4,5)
As a precaution if you are taking any form of blood thinners, check with your doctor to see how much kale you can consume (if any). There is a high Vitamin K percentage that could affect your medication.(2) The upside to vitamin K is that it has been found to help with joint pain and inflammation.(3)
Another thing to watch for is that kale does contain oxalates, which most brassicas do, that can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb calcium, iron and magnesium. Kale does have less oxalates than spinach and as I researched there is a lot of debate to the severity of the health concern because the oxalates can vary due to the variety of kale, whether it’s raw or cooked and even the cooking time factors in.(2,3,4) With all of the debate, I will continue to consume kale 2-3 times per week because I need the additional calcium and iron for my own health.
The way kale is grown it can have a high pesticide residue, which can harm the human nervous system. So buy organic when you can and when you can’t wash it well.
1. 10 proven benefits of kale – www.authoritynutrition.com
2. Kale the nutritional powerhouse – Beverly Lynn Bennett – Healthy Living Publications 2015
3. Kale – the complete guide to the world’s most powerful superfood – ??
4. Kale – www.whfoods.com
5. Kale: health benefits & nutrition – www.livescience.com
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