Wednesday is National Kale Day. And, with cooler weather approaching, this nutritional powerhouse will be popping up at our local farmers markets.
Kale has been cultivated for more than 2,000 years. It was popular in Europe during the Roman times and the Middle Ages, it arrived in North America in the 17th century. America plants more acres in Kale than Brussels sprouts. There are over 50 varieties of kale, and there happens to be 50 Shades of Kale as well.
This leafy green vegetable is incredibly nutrient-dense and should be part of your weekly meal rotation.
Just one cup of raw kale…
- contains just 33 calories
- provides 134% of your daily vitamin C needs
- provides 684% of your daily vitamin K needs
- provides 204% of vitamin A
- is an excellent source of calcium and iron
Clearly, a little goes a long way!
Click here for my favorite kale recipe – even my husband dives right in!
Kale and cancer
Apart from its impressive vitamin and mineral content, kale also contains over 45 different flavonoids – healing compounds that are found in the pigments and the cell structures of the leaves. These compounds could potentially prevent cancer. According to nutritionist George Mateljan, kale has been associated with lowering the risks of at least five different types of cancer. These include cancer of the bladder, breast, colon, ovary, and prostate.
Kale and diabetes
Kale can also be helpful for those diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Eating kale and other leafy greens provides a healthy amount of fiber that can play an important role in balancing blood sugar. It also contains some protein, which can help with sustained energy and keep blood sugar stable. 1 cup of raw kale contains 1 gram of fiber and 3 grams of protein.
Kale and liver health
Kale, and other similar bitter greens like collards, Swiss chard and dandelion greens are incredibly cleansing for the liver due to their high sulfur content. Your liver is your body’s detox organ and keeping it functioning properly will ensure toxins are able to be properly processed.
According to the Environmental Working Group’s Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen list, kale should be organic, when possible. Since kale is a hardy vegetable, inexpensive and easy to grow, it is generally close in price to conventionally grown kale.
Kale can be eaten raw or cooked. Cooking does not damage the nutrients as long it is brief – 10-15 minutes at high heat, or 35 minutes at lower heat or when baking. Kale can be added to soups, stews, salads, and smoothies.
For some, kale can have too bitter of a taste. Simply adding lemon juice to your kale salad or sauté can help cut the bitterness and add a refreshing taste. After a frost, kale becomes sweeter. So, perhaps basing your purchase on the weather will make kale even more appealing for you!