You know it’s good for you, and you’ve probably already figured out how to fix it as a tasty side dish. But how else can you enjoy this powerhouse of nutrition?
The Health Benefits of Kale
Also known as “borecole,” kale has become a popular leafy green over the last decade or so because of it’s myriad of health benefits. Available in curly, ornamental and dinosaur varieties, it belongs to the same family as cabbage, broccoli, collards, and Brussels sprouts. It’s a super source of vitamins K, A, and C, and a good source of manganese and fiber.
Most of the research around kale so far has focused on cancer. It contains both carotenoids and flavonoids, namely lutein and beta-carotene, and kaempferol and quercetin, with at least 45 other types of flavonoids. Kale also has omega-3 fatty acids, known for their anti-inflammatory benefits. Just 100 calories of kale provides 25–35 percent of the daily recommended amount, according to the National Academy of Science.
Other antioxidants in kale called “glucosinolates” have been found to have cancer-preventative properties, with those consuming kale having lower risks of colon, breast, bladder, prostate and ovarian cancers. It’s also been shown to help lower LDL “bad” cholesterol and to be important in detoxifying efforts.
Eight Ways to Eat More Kale
Below are five ways to prepare and enjoy kale. Look for firm, deeply colored leaves with hardy stems. Choose smaller leaves for a more tender and mild flavor.
- Raw: Wash, thinly slice, and add onion, red pepper, raisins, and your favorite dressing.
- Steam It: For maximum nutrition and flavor, steam for five minutes and toss with dressing or your favorite ingredients. Try this recipe from the World’s Healthiest Foods.
- Pasta: Mix kale with whole-grain pasta, pine nuts, feta cheese, and some olive oil. Kale is also great in cold pasta salads.
- Saute: Heat in a skillet with a bit of olive oil for 2-3 minutes.
- Bake: Place dry leaves in a baking dish, toss with olive oil, and bake at 450 degrees for 5-10 minutes until leaves are crispy. Sprinkle with sea salt if desired.
- Soup: Peel and chop a head of garlic, chop one onion, de-stem and chop one bunch of kale, chop two medium potatoes, and dice two carrots.
- Smoothie: Add ½ a handful of kale to your favorite smoothie.
- Chips: These are hugely popular right now. Crisp, tasty, and great for a healthy snack. You can either dehydrate them or put them in the oven. Try Annmarie’s raw kale chip recipe here.
Do you have other ways to enjoy kale? Please share your ideas.
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Photo courtesy Sauce of Soy via Flickr.com.