As a close kin of broccoli, cabbage, and collards, kale is undoubtedly a veggie rock star too when it comes to healthy food. The leafy texture is groomed well during a cooler season, resulting in a sweeter taste. This Brassica oleracea has many varieties, but the most common to be cultivated are:

  1. Curly kale, with its ruffled leaves and full of fiber stalk. The color is deep green with a bitter taste.
  2. Ornamental kale, with different colors of choice in the leaves, from green, white, and purple with more tender texture and perfect for salad.
  3. Dinosaur kale, or Lacinato, or Tuscan kale with dark blue-greenish color and protruding texture. The taste is sweeter and softer than other types.

Kale’s Healthy Disposition

No cholesterol, that’s for sure. Everything with no cholesterol is healthy, so to speak. Raw kale in your salad has 0 mg cholesterol, and if you want it cooked, steaming it will help lowering your high cholesterol. The fiber in steamed kale will help attaching bile acids to be excreted out of the body.

Kale is also packed with isothiocyanates or ITCs from glocusinolates. ITCs are the solo fighters against bladder, breast, ovary, prostate, and colon cancer, and helping body to detoxifying in general. The antioxidant to battle free radicals also happens to be kale’s strong suit. The flavonoids and carotenoids in it will prevent body from oxidation and gives the anti-inflammatory benefits.

One cup of kale also gives us the benefit of vitamin K and omega-3 fatty acid although not in the maximum amount needed, but all is essential for fighting the inflammatory response in the body. Omega-3 fatty acid in kale is built by alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) together with fiber is the most nutrient combo. Kale itself possesses twice more vitamin K than its fellow cruciferous veggie. Aside from these, kale also has vitamin A, vitamin C, copper, manganese, vitamin B6, calcium, potassium, vitamin E, vitamin B2, iron, magnesium, vitamin B1, protein, folate, and niacin. A super food, indeed!

To Get the Best Out Of Kale

So all the healthy parts of kale are maximized within your diet, make sure to have kale at least 2 to 3 times per week with one cup or half a cup each time. To choose the best quality, look for a deep colored kale with hard and moist stem. Choose smaller leaves with no sign of wilting. Keep it inside the fridge inside a plastic bag with no air in it. Don’t ever wash kale before storing it.

Prepare it by washing kale under cold running water, cutting the leaves into two parts and leave the stems on before continuing to steamed-cooking it for five minutes. The trick is to let it wait for about five minutes to let all the nutrients come out before steaming it. We can also sprinkle some lemon juice so the phytonutrient benefits are more enhanced.

Things to Watch from Kale

There are not many foods that contain oxalate, a natural substance in plants, animals, and human beings all alike; but the mighty kale does. Oxalate in body fluids can crystallize into a kidney and bladder problem, and that’s a red flag for people with kidney problems.

Another concern in eating kale is the pesticide trace of organophosphate insecticides, the type of pesticide that is harmful to the nervous system. This kind of pesticide can easily be found in a conventionally harvested kale, that’s why it is better to keep it organic.

Last thing that is contrary to the kale as the best veggie would be the goitrogens substance in it that can compromise the health of thyroid gland. Too much kale can cause a problem to thyroid gland, especially to those who are having a thyroid issue.

Curious about how to integrate this superfood veggie in your meal? I’ve got an amazing recipe for you here and here.