Kale Benefits: Beautiful and Health-Promoting

Have you ever noticed that purple and green leafy stuff that decorates food platters and salad bars? Well that stuff is kale and, like parsley, it’s been done a grave disservice being demoted to the role of garnish. Kale is a fantastically tasty, and health-promoting, vegetable and you would be doing yourself a favor by actually eating it off your plate instead of just admiring its appearance.

Kale comes in many different varieties and all of them, even the pretty purple one that is traditionally just a garnish, are edible. Curly kale, Scots kale, Plain Leaved, Rape kale (don’t like the sound of that one…), leaf, dinosaur kale, Tuscan kale (sometimes called “black cabbage”) and “salad savoy” (the purple one) – all providing different flavors and nutrient profiles.

Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense foods you could add to your diet. It is an excellent source of vitamin A, C, K, B6, and folate, minerals like manganese, potassium, calcium and iron, and is a great source of the all-important fiber. Kale also contains important glucosinolates, organic sulphur and nitrogen containing compounds which activate enzymes for detoxification in the liver and help protect from carcinogens.

Kale grown in summer has more carotenoids, phytochemicals like beta-carotein, lutein and zeaxanthin, than kale grown in the winter. These carotenoids are important for vision and protecting the eyes. In fact lutein and zeaxanthin are stored in the retina of the eye and protect it from UV damage and have been shown to reduce risk of cataracts.

According to the American Cancer Society, leafy green veggies like kale lower the risk of lung, esophageal, mouth and pharynx (cavity behind nose and mouth) cancer. It was also found in one study that those who consumed kale regularly had a lower chance of contracting bladder cancer.

And cooking kale is super-easy. Just de-vein and rinse the kale in the sink and leave it to soak in cold water while you heat a pan on the stove (one that has a lid). Melt a tablespoon of coconut oil in the pan and throw in some diced onion and garlic. Once this has browned, take the kale out of the cold water, give it a good shake and add it to the pan. Throw in a healthy pinch of unrefined sea salt, turn it a few times with some tongs and cover the pan. The water on the leaves will steam the veg. Cook it for 5 or so minutes, stirring every so often. You’re looking for the kale to be bright in color and still retain some of its shape (not soggy). Serve and enjoy!

The Healthy Foodie is Doug DiPasquale, Holistic Nutritionist and trained chef, living in Toronto.