Meet kale, it’s all the rage.
Even though kale has been around for a very long time, this wonder plant is presently enjoying the status of “most popular vegetable” around. Folks are calling it one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet, actually.
But according to a recent study aimed to rank fruits and veg by their content of 17 critical nutrients; kale came in at number 15 out of 41. Watercress, Chinese cabbage, chard, beet, collard greens and spinach topped the list.
A nutritional superhero.
Nevertheless, the leafy green is still a “powerhouse” vegetable. Not only is it one of the best sources of beta-carotene, but its antioxidant properties have also been researched to fight up to at least five different forms of cancer, including bladder, breast, colon, ovary and prostate.
Kale packs a powerful combination of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, supplying more nutritional value on fewer calories and is unusually high in fibre. This is a good thing because fibre helps to create the bulk needed to feel full faster and keep full longer. No wonder some go as far as calling the veg a ‘dieter’s dream food’.
Registered dietitian, Wendy Lopes, told Cooking Sense that in terms of nutrient density, culinary flexibility and how easy it is to cook, kale tops the charts. “Kale is a cruciferous vegetable and is chock-full of fiber and antioxidants. It is rich in vitamin K and this aids in blood clotting and cell growth. You should aim to include it in your diet three to four times a week,” she advised.
5 Health Benefits of Kale
Detoxification and Weight Loss –For every cup of kale, expect 5 grams of fiber and 0 grams of fat. The sulfur in kale aids with digestion and liver health, while the vitamin C hydrates the body and increases its metabolism, leading to weight loss and healthy blood sugar levels.
Strengthens Immune System – Kale contains more iron than beef. This, along with its concentration of nutrients strengthens the immune system and fights viruses and bacteria.
Healthier Hair, Skin and Nails – Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids keep the body strong, healthy and beautiful, and nutrient dense kale helps to do just that.
Eyesight and Strength – The vitamin A content in kale keep the eyes from optical disorders that come with age and help store vitamin A in the retina. The calcium and vitamin D keep bones strong.
Disease Buster – Kale’s abundant vitamin K content is important for bone health, which stalls the effects of osteoporosis before it even begins! Added to that, the folic acid and B6 provide cardiovascular support and prevent heart disease.
A word of caution…
Esther Selman, a registered dietician and health educator cautions that although kale is packed with a lot of nutrients, as with everything it should be used in moderation. “…since it [kale] is a rich source of vitamin K, if you are on an anticoagulant medication/blood thinner, eating kale in large quantities might cause an interference. If you are on an anticoagulant medicine, [it is] important to enjoy kale after discussing this with your physician. Also, Kale is naturally high in oxalates, which can interfere with calcium absorption. It is best to avoid eating a calcium-rich food at the same time as kale.” explains nutritionist and dietitian Vandana Sheth.
It is also recommended that persons with hypothyroidism avoid high intakes of the leafy green and other cruciferous vegetables. Cooking Sense suggests that you contact your doctor or nutritionist before consuming large amounts of foods touted as “superfoods”.
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Chickpea and Kale Sandwich Spread
By Nava Atlas
Serves: 4 to 6 (makes 2 – 2 1/2 cups)
2 medium kale leaves (any variety), rinsed well
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into chunks
1 1/2 – 2 cups cooked or 1 (15 -16oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional, but highly recommended)
1/3 cup vegan mayonnaise
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves or 1 – 2 tablespoons fresh dill leaves
1 – 2 scallions, green parts only, cut into large pieces (optional)
1 – 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed or bottled lemon juice, to taste
1/2 teaspoon curry powder, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, or more to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Combine the kale and carrot in a food processor; pulse until finely chopped.
Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until the chickpeas are evenly chopped and everything is nicely blended—don’t over process; leave the mixture a bit chunky.
Transfer to a serving container and serve at once, or cover and refrigerate until needed.