The Health Benefits of Green Kale - the Leafy Vegetable
Latin Name: Brassica oleracea.
Kale is called "Karam Saag" in India.
Kale is a green leafy vegetable that is related to cabbage and belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family that includes vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, collard greens and brussels sprouts.
Kale is a primitive plant and is believed to be a native of Asia minor. It was brought to Europe around 600 BC. In the USA, kale was brought by the English, in the 17 th century.
Kale is a biennial plant that can be planted in the fall to get it through winter in areas where the winter doesn't go below 10 degrees C. It can be planted in the early spring to get it till the weather gets too warm, as it a cool weather plant.
Leaves harvested closer to summer have a more bitter flavour as compared to the ones harvested in the fall, winter and spring.
When buying kale select only the bright-looking, unbruised and untorn leaves. If you are growing kale at home pick leaves from the outside only as the centre leaves keep on growing. Pick leaves only when ready to use as it is at its optimum nutrition value when freshest.
Though there are many varieties of kale, the 3 main varieties in use are :
Curly kale, dinosaur kale and ornamental kale.
Curly kale has ruffled leaves and has a more pungent, bitter taste and flavour. The stalk is fibrous and leaves green.
The dinosaur kale variety was discovered in the 19 th century in Italy. It has large blue-green leaves with an embossed like texture and a somewhat milder and sweeter taste and flavour than the curly kale.
The leaves may reach 1 foot in length and 2"-4" in width. The leaves are harvested from the lowest down upwards.
Dinosaur kale is also called Lacinato kale, Tuscan kale or Black kale.
The ornamental kale was first cultivated in the 1980s for the first time in California. It has a loosely knit head with leaves in colours of white, green or purple.
Ornamental kale is today commonly known as Salad savoy.
The Siberian kale or the Red Russian kale is derived from the Brassica napus species.
Lacinato (Dinosaur) Kale
Nutrition In Kale
Kale is rich in various polyphenolic flavonoids having about 45 of them some of them being lutein, zeaxanthin, betacarotene and the phytochemicals sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol.
It has exceptionally high levels of Vitamin A and K with 100 gms of it providing 512% RDA of Vitamin A and about 700% RDA of Vitamin K. It also provides 200% RDA of Vitamin C.
It is a good source of Vitamin B6, B1, pantothenic acid as also the minerals copper, calcium, sodium, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus and omega-3 fatty acids.
1 cup of kale provides just 34 calories.
Nutrient Levels In Kale
Kale (Brassica oleracea. Acephala group), fresh, raw leaves, Nutrition value per 100 g
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Percentage of RDA
29 micro gm
817 micro gm
0.9 micro gm
9226 micro gm
0 micro gm
39550 micro gm
Health Benefits Of Kale
- Carotenoids and flavonoids contained in it help to reduce cancer risk.
- Lutein and zeaxanthin promote vision and protect from age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and retinal detachment in the aged.
- The fibre binds the bile acids and lowers cholesterol by promoting their excretion. However, kale has to be cooked by steaming at the very least to help the fibre bind to the bile acids. By reducing cholesterol, it also reduces the risk of heart disease.
- The high Vitamin K levels also reduce cancer risk and also aid in normal blood clotting, making the bones sturdy and help in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer disease.
- The isothiocyanates, derived from the phytonutrients glucosinolates, help in the detoxification of the body.
- Some minerals in kale are used in the production of enzymes while others help with haemoglobin formation and cellular oxidation. Some others are components of the cell and body fluids and control the heart rate and blood pressure.
- Kale has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits.
To get maximum health benefits of kale cut it into 1/2" slices for the leaves and 1/4" length for the stems for faster cooking. But before cooking, sprinkle some lemon juice on them, then let it sit for 5 minutes, to increase the phytonutrient concentration.
Also letting it sit for this period enables the enzyme myrosinase in it to react with the glucosinolates to release the isothiocyanates which are then absorbed in a greater quantity.
However, cooking should be done for the least amount of time.
A Simple & Nutritious Kale Juice Recipe
1 bunch kale
6 celery sticks
1 large cucumber
2 green apples
1 tsp chlorella powder
- Wash all the vegetables.
- Cut and add to juicer.
- Remove juice.
- Add chlorella and stir.
- Serve immediately.
Kale Juice Health Benefits
Since kale is bitter juicing it can make the taste unpalatable so it is better to add some sweet fruits like carrots and apples to it while juicing.
Drinking kale juice gives one a big nutrient dose of, Vitamins A, C, K, the minerals iron, calcium and others, in a small volume.
These help to ward off anaemia, boost immunity, protect against eye disease, cardiovascular diseases, counteract free radical cell damage, develop strong bones and teeth, aid blood clotting, maintain healthy muscle and nerve function;
Among other benefits like being low in fat & calories, good in fibre and zero cholesterol.
How To make Kale Chips
- Slice kale into small pieces.
- Drizzle some olive oil and sprinkle a pinch of salt on them.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes in an oven at 350 degrees.
Uses Of Kale
Kale is mainly used for culinary purposes. It can be used in salads, soups, braised, baked, cooked and chips can be made from it too.
Kale is used much in countries like Japan, China, Taiwan, Portugal, East Africa, Vietnam, USA and all over Europe.
It is also grown for its ornamental value since it has beautifully coloured inner rosette leaves that range from white through pink, red, lavender, blue and violet.
Interestingly, the ornamental kale is edible.
- Because of the extremely high Vitamin K content, those on anticoagulants should avoid it as it is counteractive.
- The leaves contain oxalic acid though at levels lower than spinach. Still, those with oxalate stones or a tendency to form stones should avoid kale consumption.
Also, maintain a high water consumption to regulate proper urine output.
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The information provided in this hub is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies or supplements.
How To Cook Kale For Optimum Health
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2012 Rajan Singh Jolly