By Cary Neff, Experience Life
Kale, with its frilly leaves and rich colors, is a gorgeous plant. Although officially a “dark leafy green,” it also comes in vibrant purples and dramatic winter whites. And kale’s beauty runs deep: It is packed with powerful phytonutrients, minerals and fiber.
Kale’s complex flavor wins it fans at breakfast, lunch and dinner. It boasts deep, earthy flavors that can range from rich and meaty to herbaceous and slightly bitter. It tastes supremely healthy — in a good way.
Kale belongs to the Brassica family, which also includes cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi and collards. It is an offshoot of wild cabbage, which originated in Asia Minor.
The ancient Greeks and Romans grew kale in their gardens. Europeans brought kale to the Americas in the 1600s. During WWII, it was a recommended plant for Victory Gardens because it provided so many nutrients. And today, this leafy green is enjoying a revival, particularly among the health-inclined.
Kale is easy to find, and it’s a cinch to work into virtually any style of cooking. Read on for more about kale, as well as a few ways to start experimenting with it.
- Three servings of leafy greens each day has been found to slow cognitive loss by 40 percent.
- Kale is packed with phytochemicals like sulfur-containing glucosinolates and isothiocyanates that help ward off cancer.
- The fiber in kale helps absorb and sweep out DNA-damaging chemicals and other toxins that enter our bodies.
- Open-leafed plants in the cabbage family, like kale, have higher amounts of vitamins C and A and carotenoids than plants whose leaves don’t see the sun. Carotenoids are powerful antioxidants that also support proper functioning of the immune and reproductive systems and lower the risk of cataracts.
- Kale is an excellent source of minerals, including calcium, and manganese, a mineral the body requires for many physiological functions.
- One cup of kale provides 1,300 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin K, which is important for healthy blood coagulation and maintaining bone mass.