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Kale Nutrition Facts
Hail to the Kale!
Okay, perhaps “Hail to the Kale” is an insipid title for an article. Let’s face it; kale is a hard word to rhyme. But, it’s better than the title I first came up with: “If kale had a degree, it’d be from Yale.”
I guess what my feeble attempts at a clever title are trying to achieve is to convey kale’s amazing qualities. And, yes, a vegetable can be amazing. Particularly when it’s loaded with substances that can help protect one from cancer, cataracts, emphysema, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Kale is not particularly a staple in most American households, but, after reading this article, I hope kale becomes a staple in your house. Some may consider kale bitter, and, admittedly, some varieties of kale are on the bitter side. The secret to eating kale, then, is to choose a bunch with smaller leaves, which have a milder flavor. You can try different varieties of kale, such as dinosaur kale, with dark blue-green leaves, which offer a sweeter and more delicate taste than the more common, curly kale. In addition, you can pair kale with other greens, such as collard greens, which have a sweeter flavor to offset the strong flavor of kale. Or, my favorite, sautéing kale with sweet onions and garlic.
Why go to all the bother, you ask. Quite simply, because kale is a superfood. It’s a member of the Brassica family of vegetables, which include cabbage and Brussels sprouts. Unless you exist totally on Big Macs and supersized fries, you probably know that cabbage and Brussels sprouts have gained quite the reputation as cancer-fighting foods. And kale is loaded with the organosulfur compounds that may lessen the occurrence of some cancers. Studies suggest that the phytonutrients in kale and other Brassicas may actually help the liver neutralize potentially cancerous substances.
Kale is loaded with nutrients and compounds that aid in warding off other diseases and ailments as well. For example, kale is packed with beta-carotene, an important nutrient for good vision. Several studies link an increase in vitamin A and beta-carotene in one’s diet with a decrease in developing cataracts. Kale is also an excellent source of vitamin C, which is good for cold prevention, as well as a reduced risk of colon cancer. Finally, kale is rich in minerals, such as iron, manganese, calcium and potassium.
How do you prepare this superfood? Aside from being rich in phytochemicals, kale is versatile. Kale can be added to soups and omelets, can be braised or sautéed with onions and garlic, and, I’ve heard, even added to pizza toppings. If you own a juicer, you might try juicing kale in combination with other vegetables and fruit, such as carrot or apple. That way, you can take advantage of the enzymes that are lost when vegetables are cooked.
One caveat about kale. Kale does contain goitrogen, a naturally-occurring substance which can interfere with the functioning of the thyroid gland. Therefore, if you have thyroid problems, you might want to avoid kale. Also, while much research is suggesting the link between certain foods and disease prevention, it’s always a good idea to check with a medical professional if you have medical concerns or are starting a new diet regimen.
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