Cuddle up with Kale

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You may have forgotten, but before 2013 the biggest use of kale was not for its incredible nutritional value, but for its decorative value in salad bars and main dishes. Yes, most kale was routinely thrown out at the end of a meal or the end of a day.

Today kale is considered one of the power vegetables because of its incredible nutritional value. Eating kale in any form delivers fiber, protein, omega-3s, and an array of vitamins and minerals.

Just look at the list below:

  • One cup provides 684% of the daily value of vitamin K, 206% of the suggested daily amount of vitamin A, and 14% of calcium.
  • It has more vitamin C than an orange. One cup of chopped kale has 134 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C, while a medium orange fruit has 113 percent of the daily C requirement.
  • Kale is a great source of alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), the omega-3 fatty acid that’s essential for brain health and boosts heart health. Each cup has 121 mg of ALA.
  • Kale has plenty of phytonutrients “antioxidants”, like quercetin which helps combat inflammation and prevents arterial plaque formation and sulforaphane, a cancer-fighting compound.

So how did kale go from being a zero to a hero? It has some close relatives that are also nutritional super heroes; namely cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussel sprouts. Kale is an Old World food and is eaten across the globe; it’s a staple in Scotland, Kenya, Denmark, Portugal, Italy and many other countries. Kale is not a fad; we were just a little slow getting to know and appreciate it.

More good news about kale. Cooking kale doesn’t diminish any of its nutritional benefits. Many of its top health-promoting compounds are rendered more effective when eaten in combination with another food. Fats like avocado, olive oil or even parmesan can make fat-soluble carotenoids more available to the body. And acid from lemon juice helps make kale’s iron more bioavailable as well.

Mix up your kale; try sautéed or steamed kale, kale salads, kale chips, and kale smoothies. You can’t go wrong with this nutritional hero!