As a leafy green vegetable, Kale is already thought of as a healthy and nutritious ingredient. Unfortunately, this vegetable is not as popular as it should be. Belonging to the Brassica family, Kale is part of a group of vegetables such as collards, Brussels sprouts, and cabbages. The good thing about Kale is that it is easy to grow. In fact, it can be found in various markets throughout the year. Depending on the weather, the earthy taste of the vegetable also differs; producing a sweeter taste during the cool winter to spring season.
Varieties of Kale
Nowadays, Kale comes in several varieties: curly, ornamental, and dinosaur (Tuscan or Lacinato). Each variety differs according to appearance, texture, and taste. As the most common variety, dinosaur kale has a slightly sweeter and delicate taste compared to other varieties. It comes in a dark blue-green leafy color with an embossed texture.
Curly kale, on the other hand, has a fibrous stalk, deep green color, and ruffled leaves. Its pungent flavor mixes with its bitter and peppery taste. The last variety, ornamental kale, is a recently cultivated variety often referred to as salad savoy. True to its name, its leaves possess different hues ranging from purple, green, or white. It has a tender texture and mellow flavor.
Buying and Storing
When buying kale, make sure to choose the ones with leaves that are firm and have a deep color. The proper way to store the vegetable is in a cool environment so that it does not wilt. Otherwise, it will have an unappealing look and negative affect on its flavor. Make sure to buy kale with fresh looking leaves, unwilted and free from yellowing, browning, and small holes.
In terms of storing kale, make sure to store it in plastic storage bag with as little air as possible. When stored in the refrigerator, you can store the vegetable for five days. Avoid washing the vegetable before storing so that spoilage can be prolonged. Remember though that the longer it is stored, the bitter its flavor will be.
The best and healthiest way to cook kale is to steam it in a pot with two inches of water. The vegetable can be steamed for five minutes before served with your favorite dressing.
Health Benefits of Kale
A cup of kale has been known to equal a week’s worth of other foods. Because kale is considered as a superfood, it is being treated as one. The vegetable contains phytonutrient indole-3-carbinol, which helps in DNA cell repair and slows down the growth of cancer cells. Additionally, kale has sulforaphane content that helps protect against the onset of colon and prostate cancers. Kale has also been known to possess properties that ease lung congestion and helps the immune system, liver, and stomach. Lastly, the vegetable contains zeaxanthin and lutein; which are known to help protect the eyes from macular degeneration.
Helps the Immune System
The nutrients found in kale have been known to strengthen the immune system. It helps fight bacteria and viruses. Because kale contains more iron than beef, it is being used by vegans and vegetarians as a substitute. Anemic people also use kale to help them get oxygen to their blood.
The Omega-3 fatty acids found in kale have been known to help alleviate arthritis, asthma, and autoimmune disorders. Vitamin C, on the other hand, helps relieve stiff joints.
Detoxification & Weight Loss
Kale contains fiber and sulfur which helps promote liver health and proper digestion. Its Vitamin C content also helps in hydrating the body and increase metabolism; resulting to effective weight loss and a healthy level of blood sugar.
Similar to other dark green vegetables, kale contains properties that help in prevent colon, prostate, and ovarian cancers. It also contains Vitamin K; which helps in promoting bone health. The combination of B6 and folic acid also help in preventing heart disease and providing cardiovascular support.
Kale contains nutrients like calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin K; which help in keeping eye health at its best. The vitamins around the retina are stored longer, thus preventing eye disorders that are age related.
Healthy Nails, Skin, and Hair
The nutrients found in kale have also been known to help boost skin health by providing a healthy mix of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.
Because of the number of health benefits provided by kale, it is being sought after by those who are on a strict diet and have dietary concerns. If you would like to start getting the health benefits of kale, it’s time to add the vegetable to your diet.