Talking about green leafy vegetables, the one topping the charts is “Kale”. Kale belongs to the Brassica family. The most commonly known vegetables under the Brassica family are Brussels sprouts, Collards and Cabbages. The recent acceptance and increased demand towards these vegetables is because of the varied nutrients, which are health promoting, its immense microfiber content and high antioxidant composition of carotenoids and flavonoids.
With more and more people turning health savvy, there has been an increased demand for the varieties of “Kale” across the globe.
The leaves and the stalk are both considered to contain phyto-nutrients and can be consumed either raw or cooked.
Brassica oleracea is the scientific name of Kale. Cruciferous vegetables under the Brassica oleracea family comprise of collards, broccoli, cabbage etc. Curly Kale, Ornamental Kale (Salad Savoy) and Dinosaur Kale, Plain leaved kale, Leaf and Speak Kale, Cavolo nero are the different varieties of kale, all with health benefits. Even though these can be found in the stores across the year, they are best grown and most tasty during winter.
The moist weather during winter promotes the better taste of kale, which is sweeter than in any other season. The flavor of kale is little tingly, pungent, which is the brief description of Curly kale. Fibrous stalk with leaves are in a deep shade of green, which do not form a head.
Green, Purple leaves and a loosely formed head is the Ornamental Kale, with a mild flavor and leaves rather tender in nature.
Blue-green leaves with an embossed like effect on the leaves, rather tender and sweeter in taste in comparison to the other varieties.
Kale as a plant is cannot tolerate heat and is supposed to taste best after the first frost.
Kale is a healthy vegetable
Kale is considered as one of the vegetables leading in its contribution towards a health. It leads in excellent content of manganese, copper, vitamin A, vitamin C and Vitamin K, very good content of Vitamin B6, fiber, Vitamin B2, potassium, good content of Iron, Omega-3 fats, phosphorous, folate and Vitamin B3. It also consists of 45 different flavonoids, which is not only meant to contribute towards the function of antioxidants but also function as anti-inflammatory compounds.
Regular intake in normal quantities can most definitely pave the way towards the long-term benefits towards maintaining a healthy body.
Health Benefits of Kale
The health benefits of kale include its antioxidant effects, improving diabetes control, lowering risk of cancer & helping in hypertension and losing weight. The health benefits that Kale can provide are as follows:
Reduces the risk of cancer
Vitamin K content of kale combats cancer and reduces the risk of cancer overall.
Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, parsley and collard comprise of Vitamin K as well. It helps in keeping the bone health maintained as well works well in assisting the blood clotting process.
Kale intake is also supposed to lower risks pertaining to colon cancer, and breast cancer and the risks associated with prostate cancer, ovarian cancer and bladder cancer.
Beneficial for preventing vision loss
Health benefits of kale contribute towards maintaining the health of the eye via the compounds of Lutein and Zeaxanthin readily available in Kale.
Kale is rich in fiber, which helps in reducing the levels of blood cholesterol and thereby reduces the risks of a heart disorder.
Fiber in Kale helps in binding the bile acids, which improves the process of washing out the bile acid, which in turn reduces the risk of higher blood cholesterol levels.
Kale in this circumstance works better, when it is cooked, than when consumed raw. Nevertheless, raw kale does have its benefits, but not as high when it is cooked.
Kale in Body Detoxification
Kale helps to a large extent in the detoxification of the body via the content of glucosinolates present in it.
The isothiocyanates generated from the glucosinolates contribute towards the detoxification process.
In cases of insufficient intake of antioxidants, there can be cases of “oxidative stress”, which means a metabolic issue.
Hence, the regular intake of Kale is said to regularize and detoxify your body.
Decreases chronic inflammation
It is also said to decrease any kind of chronic inflammation arising out of this kind of oxidative stress.
The content of Omega-3 in Kale is rather high and consumption of Kale is supposed to combat inflammation if consumed regularly.
Other leafy vegetables consist of higher quantities of Omega-3 in comparison to Kale, nevertheless, it comprises of a brilliant amount of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which helps in the generation of Omega-3 fatty acids.
Diverse diet alongside kale can be of higher nutrition content and can help your body remain fit. Kale can be consumed in various forms such as in chips, in salads or even in green shakes. It can be baked, stewed, boiled or even consumed raw. When used in salads, Kale can be mixed with lemon juice so that its flavor is reduced. Tender Kale works well with peanuts, capsicum, soy sauce or even a combination of oils depending on your palate. In different parts of the world Kale, is consumed in different fashions. Steaming kale should be done for not more than 5 minutes to retain the maximum nutrition levels within the leafy vegetable. Sometimes Kale is eaten with bacon or mashed potatoes or sausages or even with beef in a stir fry way.
Kale is even consumed with feta cheese and pasta in certain parts of the world day tours with the primary cuisine comprising of kale is organized from October to February. Some communities even hold a yearly festival to announce the king or queen related to Kale. From America to China to Africa Kale is consumed in mostly all parts of the world. Kale juice is a regular diet intake recommended by dietarians on account of its high nutrition content. Kale needs to be either consumed raw or steamed or stir fried so that it does not lose all the nutrition content and a large quantity is still contained when consumed. Since Kale is a leafy vegetable, which grows best during the wintertime, there is a higher possibility of finding the best kale leaves during this time of the year. Its leaves are rather tender and the stems are hardy.
The flavor of Kale during winter would also tend to be mellow and sweeter. Kale needs to be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container so that it can last up to duration of 5 days maximum.
It must be unwashed with no salt added to it. Washing Kale would lead the leaf to be spoilt faster even post storage in the refrigerator.
How many kale diets per week
Kale needs to be consumed a minimum of 2-3 times in a week and a maximum of 4-5 times in a week to achieve the best dietary results and proper levels of nourishment.
How to purchase kale
While purchasing kale, make certain, it does not contain any holes, nor has the shade of the leaf disintegrated. Best to purchase would be Kale with small tender leaves, so that it is sweet and the flavor not too pungent. With celebrities leading the way and promoting Kale intake, the influence and the demand for Kale is on a high. This makes even the common man wanting to include Kale in his diet. Imagine the extent of growth of Kale in the future.
Nutrition Facts of Kale
The nutrition facts are as per USDA Nutrient Database: Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
- Energy 117 kJ (28 kcal)
- Carbohydrates 5.63 g
- Sugars 1.25 g
- Dietary fiber 2 g
- Fat 0.4 g
- Protein 1.9 g
- Water 91.2 g
- Vitamin A equiv. 681 µg (85%)
- beta-carotene 8173 µg (76%)
- lutein and zeaxanthin 18246 µg
- Thiamine (vit. B1) 0.053 mg (5%)
- Riboflavin (vit. B2) 0.07 mg (6%)
- Niacin (vit. B3) 0.5 mg (3%)
- Vitamin B6 0.138 mg (11%)
- Folate (vit. B9) 13 µg (3%)
- Choline 0.4 mg (0%)
- Vitamin C 41 mg (49%)
- Vitamin E 0.85 mg (6%)
- Vitamin K 817 µg (778%)
- Calcium 72 mg (7%)
- Iron 0.9 mg (7%)
- Magnesium 18 mg (5%)
- Manganese 0.416 mg (20%)
- Phosphorus 28 mg (4%)
- Potassium 228 mg (5%)
- Sodium 23 mg (2%)
- Zinc 0.24 mg (3%)
There is a lot of research going on in this field over a span of time. There are certain evidences in terms of documentation and white papers written to this date about the pros and cons of kale intake. A read through these is recommended before switching to any diet so that you are well aware of the vegetable you are consuming.