Everyone seems to be talking about green smoothies, superfood shakes nowadays and that’s for good reasons. People from all around the world are learning that having more healthy greens in their diet can help boost immunity and support overall health.
Praised for being versatile, tasty, and highly nutritious, kale is one of the most common veggies found in this superfood concoction. Not only does the kale nutrition profile boast a wide array of essential vitamins, but it is also featured in nearly every eating pattern, especially in the Mediterranean diet.
Wondering what’s so special about this superfood? Keep reading to find out everything about Kale – from interesting facts, recipes to numerous health benefits that it provides!
Table of Contents
- What is Kale
- How to Choose the Best Kale From the Local Market
- How Do Kale Taste Like in Recipe
- Favorite Kale Recipes
- The 7 Health Benefits of Kale
What is Kale
A member of the group of cancer-fighting cruciferous vegetables, kale is quickly becoming one of the most popular superfoods today. Famous for its rich dark green color, kale attributes its popularity and health-promoting properties to its bright rich color, which is packed full of antioxidants and chlorophyll!
Native to the eastern Mediterranean, where it was cultivated for food beginning by 2000 BCE, kale is now so popular around the world that people have begun creating new trends around the topic of finding a replacement for kale as high demand has seen its prices soar.
But did you know it actually belongs to the same group as those of collard greens? This also explains why kale shares many of the same characteristics as its cousins – Brussel sprouts, Broccoli, and bok choy.
How to Choose the Best Kale From the Local Market
Choose kale with smaller leaves for tenderness and mild flavor, especially if you’re planning to eat the greens raw. Coarse, oversized kale leaves are tough. Also, look for moist, crisp, and kale with unwilted and unblemished leaves. Kale with tiny holes on their leaves should also be avoided as these mean they have been attacked by insects! And of course, look out for color – avoid kale with yellow or brown leaves! Instead, choose ones with vibrant green color!
How Do Kale Taste Like in Recipe
Wondering what this green superfood taste like in the recipe? Just like any other salad, kale has a strong and earthy taste. The leaves are dry, tough, crunchy, and strong-tasting. Young and fresh kale has softer, thinner leaves with a mild taste, hence it’s best to complement it with lettuce in a salad with its dressing by the side!
Favorite Kale Recipes
Given Kale’s mild and bitter taste profile, many people avoid eating them raw in a salad bowl! Here are some recipes around kale that could change your opinion in the future, leaving you wanting more!
- Garlic & Sesame Kale Sautee
- Kale Smoothie with Banana & Dates
- Kale Salad with Tahini and Pumpkin Seeds Dressing
The 7 Health Benefits of Kale
Much of the reason why kale is such a great superfood is due to the fact that kale belongs to the Brassicaceae family of plants, which makes it one of the cruciferous vegetables. These unique vegetables possess sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates, which have been shown to fight off cancer cells. Here are a few other top reasons to consider adding kale to your next shopping list.
- Rich in Antioxidants
- Aids in Detoxification
- Supports Heart Health
- Promotes Healthy Development
- Decreases Cancer Cell Growth
- Enhances Eye Health
1. Fight Inflammation
Thanks to its high content of antioxidants, kale has the ability to relieve inflammation, fight free radical damage, and reduce oxidative stress.
In addition, each serving also provides a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids in the form of alpha-linolenic acid. They are involved in a number of health aspects but most notably for the regulation of inflammatory processes in the body.
2. Rich in Antioxidants
With anti-inflammatory capabilities come antioxidant features. In fact, kale is one of the top antioxidant foods, rich in Vitamin C and beta carotene – a precursor to Vitamin A.
Not only can antioxidants help protect against cell damage caused by free radicals, but they could also be beneficial against chronic conditions such as heart diseases and cancer.
3. Aids in Detoxification
One of the top health benefits of cruciferous vegetables is their ability to detoxify the body. By detoxification, I mean eliminating the toxins entirely!
This is due to the presence of isothiocyanates, which are a compound shown not only to help detox your body at the cellular level but also to help stimulate the production of phase II enzymes, which are responsible for the detoxification of the body by promoting the excretion of harmful substances.
4. Supports Heart Health
Kale contains many micronutrients that are crucial to heart health, including vitamin K, potassium, and alpha-linoleic acid(ALA) as mentioned previously.
As we all know that inflammation could promote the growth of plaque in your arteries and trigger blood clots – the primary cause of heart attacks and strokes. Kale gets these in check by lowering the inflammation level in your body due to its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
5. Promotes Healthy Development
Being a valuable source of Folate, which is an essential vitamin for preventing birth defects and promoting healthy neural tube formation, kale has the ability to promote healthy fetal development. Getting enough folate in your diet may also reduce the risk of other pregnancy complications like anemia.
Kale is also high in vitamin K, calcium, and copper, all of which are necessary for the healthy development of skeletal formation during pregnancy. Getting enough of these nutrients is also important during breastfeeding because it’s been shown that women lose 3-5 percent of bone mass while breastfeeding.
6. Decreases Cancer Cell Growth
Cruciferous vegetables like kale, have shown positive results in their ability to inhibit the growth of cancer cells, thanks to their sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates.
These powerhouse chemicals are broken down in the digestive tract and form biologically active compounds such as indoles, thiocyanates, and isothiocyanates. Research has shown that they help protect against cancer of the bladder, breast, colon, and liver.
7. Enhances Eye Health
Kale also has the ability to improve your eyesight, thanks to the presence of lutein and zeaxanthin, two compounds that have been shown to help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts.
Both of these antioxidants in the eye help filter harmful blue wavelengths of light and also protect and maintain healthy cells which may preserve vision and prevent retinal damage.
How to Store Kale
- For storing whole bunches: For a bunch of kale leaves, avoid storing with excess moisture. Wrap the bunch of kale leaves in a layer of paper towels and store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer. For this method, the kale leaves would last up to a week.
- For storing washed, cut greens in the fridge: Being a hardy green, kale can be washed then cut or sliced and stored in the fridge without wilting. Just remember to dry them well in a salad spinner or with kitchen towels before wrapping the cut leaves in a kitchen towel into the fridge. For this method, the kale leaves could last up to 3 days.
- For storing blanched and frozen leaves: If you’re not intending to use the kale leaves anytime soon, you could go with this method – blanching and freezing. Simply blanch the kale in a large pot of boiling water and prepare a bowl of ice water by the side. After 1-2 minutes, drain the pot in a colander and transfer to the ice water to prevent further cooking. Afterwards, dry the kale leaves thoroughly with a salad spinner then freeze the leaves on a baking sheet until frozen solid, 1-2 hours. Transfer the kale leaves to a freezer bag and store in a freezer for up to 8 months!
Risks and Side Effects
Some people may be allergic to cruciferous vegetables such as kale. If you experience any discomfort I would advise you to discontinue immediately and seek your family doctor. For those on blood thinners, be advised to maintain a steady stream of vitamin K to your system as kale by itself is high in vitamin K.
Although it’s recommended to consume this superfood on a daily basis, it’s important to note that high amount of kale might not be a good thing, especially for those who have hypothyroidism. You run the risk of affecting the thyroid’s ability to absorb iodine from your diet if you consume too much kale. Hence, take in a moderate amount to avoid complications!
Incorporating kale into your daily diet can be a great way to boost your overall health. Being a cruciferous vegetable that is closely related to the likes of Broccoli, Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts, and Bok Choy, we all know kale provides plenty of fiber, Vitamin K, Vitamin A, antioxidants, and sulfur compounds. This means decreased inflammation, enhanced detoxification, reduced cancer cell growth, and improved eye health.
Fortunately, adding kale to your diet is pretty simple. You can simply follow my kale recipes, add it to your salads with some complementing dressing on the side, or even make a smoothie out of it!
All in all, you should go with the organic option whenever possible and wash the produce thoroughly to reduce exposure to pesticides, and best to consult your doctor if you are taking blood thinners!