Of all the super healthy greens, kale is one of the healthiest and most nutritious plant foods in existence.
Loaded with all sorts of beneficial compounds, here’s a top line introduction on what you need to know on why kale is king.
Super easy to cook ( recipe link at the bottom of this article ), it’s great in smoothies and makes a nutritious alternative to crisps.
It’s become very popular in the last few years, there’s even a National Kale Day in the UK.
Cabbage Patch Family
Kale is member of the cabbage family - a cruciferous vegetable like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens and Brussels sprouts.
Like most vegetables, it comes in different types, the leaves can be green or purple, and have either a smooth or curly shape.
And the most common type of kale is called curly kale or Scots kale, which has green and curly leaves and a hard, fibrous stem.
Kale contains an omega-3 fatty acid called alpha linolenic-acid.
High in nutrients and very low in calories, kale makes it one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet and like other leafy greens, is very high in antioxidants.
These include beta-carotene as well as various flavonoids and polyphenols.(poli-phee-nols)
(Remember antioxidants help counteract oxidative damage by free radicals in the body so we want as much of these in our diet as possible)
We hear Vitamin C, we think citrus fruits but oranges are not the only source.
Kale is much higher in vitamin C than most other vegetables, containing about 4.5 times much as spinach.
The truth is, kale is actually one of the world's best sources of vitamin C. A cup of raw kale contains even more vitamin C than a whole orange.
According to one study, steaming kale dramatically increases the bile acid binding effect which is helpful for our gut health and digestion.
Vitamin K is an important nutrient and absolutely critical for blood clotting, and does this by "activating" certain proteins and giving them the ability to bind calcium.
The well-known anticoagulant drug Warfarin actually works in part by blocking the function of this vitamin.
The form of vitamin K in kale is K1, which is different than vitamin K2.
K2 is found in fermented soy foods and certain animal products. It helps prevent heart disease and osteoporosis.
Kale Is very high in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that the body can turn into vitamin A.
Kale is a good plant-based source of calcium, a nutrient that is very important for bone health and plays a role in all sorts of cellular functions.
It is also a decent source of magnesium, an incredibly important mineral that many of us don't always get enough of.
Kale also contains potassium, a mineral that helps maintain electrical gradients in the body's cells.
Adequate potassium intake has been linked to reduced blood pressure and a lower risk of heart disease.*
Here are some more facts on kale and some recipes on how to enjoy it, from the BBC.
Dr Clara Russell