Kale is an unassuming leafy green that many people bypass due to its slightly bitter flavor. But if you learn to use it creatively, kale can be quite tasty, which is only one reason to eat this vegetable. In the realm of superfoods, and certainly of green leafy vegetables, kale is king (or close to it!).
One cup of kale contains just around 30 calories but will provide you with seven times the daily recommended amount of vitamin K, twice the amount of vitamin A and a day’s worth of vitamin C, plus much more.
According to menu research firm Datassential, kale is in 248 percent more salads now than it was a year ago. Fingers crossed that it goes the way of arugula, baby spinach, and mixed greens, so we can spotlight some other overlooked leafy green (hello, bok choy!).
Kale Dubbed the ‘New Beef’
One reason why kale has recently been acclaimed the “new beef is because of its 3:1 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio – an exceptionally high amount of protein for any vegetable. Surprisingly, like meat, kale contains all nine essential amino acids needed to form the proteins within your body: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine – plus, nine other non-essential ones for a total of 18.
Further, the amino acids in kale are easier to extract by your body compared to those in meat. When consuming a steak, for instance, your body has to expend great metabolic resources to break down the massive, highly complex, and intricately folded protein structures within mammalian flesh back down into their constituent amino acids.
Then, later, these extracted amino acids must be reassembled back into the same, highly complex, intricately folded and refolded human proteins from which your body is made. This is a time-consuming, energy-intensive process, with many metabolic waste products released in the process.
Kale, on the other hand, is easier for your body to use, yet can be considered “meaty” and worthy of being considered as a main course in any meal. In the future, we’ll be posting more recipes you can try out in which kale is the star player.
If You Want to Flood Your Body with Antioxidants, Vitamins, and Minerals, You’ll Want to Eat Kale
Many people have difficulty consuming enough vitamins and minerals, but this becomes simple if you eat kale regularly. Most notably, one cup of kale contains over 10,000 IUs of vitamin A, most of which is delivered in the form of natural beta-carotene, as well as significant amounts of vitamin K.
And as far as calcium is concerned, one cup of kale will give you 90 milligrams in a highly bioavailable form. One calcium bioavailability study found that calcium from kale was 25% better absorbed than calcium from milk.
Kale is also an excellent source of magnesium, and as a cruciferous vegetable has many of the same cancer-fighting properties as broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. And, kale is loaded with both lutein and zeaxanthin at over 26 mg combined, per serving.
Of all the carotenoids, only zeaxanthin and lutein are found in your retina, which has the highest concentration of fatty acids of any tissue in your body. This is because your retina is a highly light and oxygen-rich environment, and it needs a large supply of free radical scavengers to prevent oxidative damage there.
Your body concentrates zeaxanthin and lutein in your retina to perform this duty, and consuming these antioxidants may help to ward of eye problems like age-related macular degeneration. What else do you gain when you eat kale?
- Anti-inflammatory properties that may help prevent arthritis, heart disease, and autoimmune diseases
- Plant based omega-3 fats for building cell membranes, protecting against heart disease and stroke, and regulating blood clotting
- Cancer-fighting sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol
- An impressive number of beneficial flavonoids, including 32 phenolic compounds and three hydroxycinamic acids to help support healthy cholesterol levels and scavenge free radicals
How To Choose Kale
There are multiple varieties of kale, which descended from wild cabbage. When choosing kale, look for firm, fresh deeply colored leaves with hardy stems. Avoid leaves that are brown or yellow or that contain holes. Kale with smaller leaves tends to be more tender and milder than larger-leaved kale. Although, I have used larger-leaved kale and enjoyed my salad just the same. Choose organic varieties (or grow your own) and store it in your refrigerator (unwashed) in a plastic storage bag (remove as much air as you can). Ideally, eat kale as soon as you can, because the longer it sits the more bitter the flavor becomes.
If you avoid kale because of its bitter taste, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the recipe that follows. Make it a goal to source locally grown organic produce, organic pastured eggs, raw dairy products, oils, and grass-fed meats as much as possible.
Raw Kale, Grapefruit, and Toasted Hazelnut Salad
- 2 pink grapefruits
- 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced, divided
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup fat-free plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 8 ounces kale, very thinly sliced, or baby kale leaves
- 1 ounce toasted hazelnuts, chopped (1/3 cup) *Other toasted nuts may be substituted
- *Optional Avocado sliced
Seven Stars Farm has always been a popular brand for cows milk yogurt. If you prefer goat milk, Redwood Hill Farm makes a great one! Lucini Italia’s Premium Select, is considered one of the highest quality extra virgin olive oils.
- Peel and segment grapefruit; reserve 3 tablespoons of juice in a large bowl. Mince 2 rings onion. Add to grapefruit juice, with lemon juice, yogurt, oil, salt, and pepper. Whisk until well mixed.
- Toss in kale. Top with remaining onion, grapefruit, and hazelnuts.