A superfood is a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.
Kale is part of the cruciferous family. Vegetables in that family come from the cabbage family and include cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, radishes, bok choy, turnips, broccoli, rutabaga, collard greens, watercress, etc. Many nutritionists recommend at least one serving of cruciferous vegetables daily. Kale is a good one.
Attributes that make kale SUPER
Kale, like coffee or straight bourbon, is an acquired taste. Or, at least it was for me. Maybe some people love it from the start, but I wasn't one of them. It tasted bitter to me. However, because it has so much value nutritionally, I kept trying it and now I love it. Now, taste and texture are two of the attributes that make kale SUPER. Here are some more.
Nutritional benefits include
- antioxidant (alpha-lipoic acid)
- vitamin K
- vitamin A, beta carotene
- vitamin B6
- vitamin C
As you can see, kale is packed with vitamins and nutrients. Here's an explanation of what they do.
Health benefits include.
- Potassium. People who maintain an appropriate amount of potassium have approximately a 20% lower risk of dying. If you ask me, that's a good reason to classify kale as a superfood. Potassium is known to lower the risk of kidney stones, and to lower the risk of strokes and heart disease.
- Antioxidant (alpha-lipoic acid). This is known to decrease glucose levels, to increase insulin sensitivity, and to decrease neuropathy -- all good news for type 2 diabetics and pre-diabetics.
- Chlorophyll. If you eat charcoal grilled food, chlorophyll is helpful in binding to and ridding the body of the carcinogens from the charcoal grilling.
- Vitamin K. Vitamin K is especially good for bone health.
- Vitamin A beta carotene. We rely on the beta carotene in vitamin A to keep our hair and skin healthy and moisturized. Kale contributes to this
- Other health benefits include, vitamins C, B6, and iron. And kale also contains fiber with all its digestive benefits and cholesterol lowering benefits. The vitamin C content is of particular note as it reduces the risk of free radical damage and atherosclerosis.
Types of kale
- Curly kale comes in green and purple. It's leaves are ruffled. It is great in a salad and in soups and stews. I love it in potato soup.
- Dinasaur kale is a good one for making kale chips. It is dark green, firmer than curly kale and seems to be a little less bitter.
- Red Russian kale is a flat leaf kale. Skip the stalks on this one, but the leaves are good for salads or when included in a smoothie.
- Ornamental kale (pictured above) is particularly beautiful and is often used in vegetable bouquets and even wedding bouquets.
Buying, storing and using kale
When buying fresh kale, the tips are logical. Look for colorful, fresh leaves that are firm. You can wash it and loosely wrap it in damp paper towels and store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for several days. Another way is to wash and store it in a meal prep container in the refrigerator (see the photo at the top of this post).
In either case, the kale will be ready and waiting for you to add it to smoothies, soups, stews, salads, and sandwiches or wraps.
We have a couple in the Oh Yum category too...
1. If you take beta blockers, eat only moderate amounts of kale as you don't want to overdo the potassium.
2. If you take blood thinners or have a kidney problem, check with your doctor about your kale intake.
Kale is certainly packed with goodness. I try to eat it as often as possible and most often substitute it for the lettuce portion in my salads. Enjoy!