Kale is heralded as “the queen of greens
” as it is packed with proteins along with an array of vitamins, minerals and cancer-combating antioxidants. It is a green leafy vegetable belonging to the Brassica family, a group of cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, collards and cauliflower.
In terms of anti-oxidants, kale is the best green leafy vegetable
on the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) chart scoring 1,770 units whereas spinach scores lesser than 1,500 units.
While it is not as well-researched or as popular as broccoli and cabbage, it is a nutrition powerhouse
with its wonderful health benefits.
Fresh kale juice is one of the simplest ways to get a bounty of nutrients from this super food.
Nutritional Facts of Kale
Kale is one of the most nutritious vegetables you can put on your plate.
Being a protein-rich
vegetable containing 4 gms protein per 100 gms of quantity, kale has earned the epithet of “queen beef”.
A 100 gms serving of kale meets 700% of the recommended daily in-take of Vitamin K and 200% of the recommended Vitamin A and C in-take
, making it a “nutrition powerhouse”.
Vitamin K plays a role in formation of blood clots whereas vitamins A and C function as powerful anti-oxidants that maintain healthy and youthful skin.
Kale is packed with copper, which plays a role in metabolism and enzyme functioning
. Due to concentration of sulfur compounds, kale plays an important role in detoxification
Health Benefits of Kale
The health benefits of kale can be attributed to its blend of nutrients, which promote eye health, strong bones and lower the risk of cancer.
Good for eyes
Kale contains significant amount of lutein and zeaxanthin, which maintain normal vision and promote eye health
by protecting against harmful UV rays.
Vitamin K-rich kale plays a vital role in bone health by boosting osteotrophic (bone formation and strengthening) activity whereas vitamin C strengthens bones by promoting collagen production -- a process needed to keep your bones resistant to damage.
Being a low glycemic index
and low glycemic load food, kale is an ideal food for diabetics
. It contains significant amount of protein and fiber,
which maintain stable sugar levels in the body.
Anti-oxidant and anti-cancer properties
Being an excellent source of glucosinolates, kale reduces the risk of colon, bladder, prostate, ovarian and breast cancers.
Kale is brimming with antioxidants -- carotenoids and flavonoids
. Amongst carotenoids, significant amounts of lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene are found in kale. 100 gms kale provide a combined 8198 mg of zeaxanthin and lutein and 5927 mg beta-carotene.
Carotenoids are key nutrients for combating health problems such as cataracts, atherosclerosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Although kale is a superfood, its consumption must be restricted in the following health conditions:
- Kale contains oxalates and must be avoided by individuals with gallbladder stones or calcium oxalate stones. Oxalates also interfere with absorption of calcium and hence people with hypocalcemia must avoid kale.
- Patients taking blood-thinning medication such as coumadin, warfarin must avoid eating kale due to its high vitamin K content.
- Kale contains thiocyanate, which interferes with iodine uptake by thyroid gland thus making it a goitrogenic food. Frequently eating foods containing goitrogens do not cause thyroid disease in healthy people. However, people suffering from hypothyroidism must restrict intake of kale.
Due to its versatility, taste and nutrition, kale is attaining popularity in the culinary world. It makes a great addition to soups, pasta and sandwiches.
The following recipes will give you plenty of ideas for using this superfood
in your daily meals.
Garlic Roasted Potatoes with KaleIngredients:
- 6 boiled and diced potatoes
- 1 cup chopped kale
- 1 thinly-sliced onion
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp finely chopped garlic
- A handful of roasted peanuts
- Salt and Pepper
- In a pan, add olive oil and sauté garlic. Add chopped kale and sliced onions until they soften.
- Add potato pieces, salt and pepper.
- After removing from flame, add roasted peanuts and serve hot.
Macaroni hot-pot with KaleIngredients:
- 2 cups boiled macaroni
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 3 chopped garlic cloves
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- ½ cup chopped kale
- ½ can baked beans
- 2 tsp oil
- Salt and pepper
- In a pan, heat olive oil and sauté garlic and onion till onion becomes translucent. Add chopped kale and cook until it softens.
- Add baked beans, boiled macaroni, chili flakes, Italian seasoning and salt and cook for 4-5 minutes. Serve hot.
Vegan kale rolls
- 100 gram diced tofu
- ½ cup chopped kale
- 1 diced onion
- 1 diced capsicum
- 1 diced carrot
- 2-3 tsp oil
- 1 tsp ginger-chili-garlic paste
- 4 chapatis
- Salt and Pepper
- In a pan, add olive oil and stir-fry all vegetables.
- Once cooked, add tofu along with salt and ginger-garlic-chili paste.
- Cook chapattis on a griddle from both sides.
- Remove on a plate and spread the tofu and vegetable mixture and roll. Serve hot.
- Choose kale with firm, deeply-colored leaves and moist hardy stems.
- Kale must be kept in a cool environment since warm temperatures will make it wilt imparting a bitter taste.