Kale is an age-old vegetable that has very high nutritional quality for being so low in calories! Kale is full of antioxidants that help the body's cellular processes, as well as having detoxifying properties that can help your body filter out toxins. Sure, kale is a buzzword at the moment, but it definitely lives up to its popularity. Kale has more nutrients per calorie than most other foods, putting it in first place on the ANDI (Aggregate Nutrient Density Index) scale for green vegetables, along with its relatives: collard greens, swiss chard, and watercress. Per calorie, kale is higher in calcium than milk is; and its Vitamin K and Vitamin C content give you more than than your daily recommended value in one serving!
1. Health Benefits of Kale
1. Kale is Extremely Nutrient Dense
What makes kale nutrient dense?
Kale is low in calorie but contains a plethora of nutrients. There are more nutrients per calorie in kale than most other foods, making it an ideal super food because of its high vitamin and mineral content.
What is a super food?
A superfood is a food that is extremely rich and dense in nutrients and are beneficial to your health.
What nutrients are in kale?
Kale is extremely dense in nutrients for its low caloric value. Kale is extremely high in Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Potassium and antioxidants.
EAT SMARTER TAKE AWAY: Kale is one of the most nutrient dense food in the world due to its high nutritional value and low caloric amount!
2. Disadvantages of Kale
1. Kale could interfere with your thyroid MAKE INFOGRAPHIC
What does your thyroid do?
Your thyroid gland is a small butterfly-shaped gland which is responsible for making thyroid hormones and in the front of your neck. These hormones affect your metabolism, which control how other organs and parts of your body work. The thyroid uses iodine to make hormones, which you get from a food source, typically seafood, dairy or iodized salt. It is important that you don’t have too much or too little thyroid hormone - though you can live without it thanks to modern medication!
How does kale interfere with your thyroid?
High intakes of cruciferous vegetables have been linked to thyroid problems, if someone has an iodine deficiency or is not getting enough iodine.
Cruciferous vegetables contain glucosinolates and goitrogens. Glucosinolates have been shown to have protective qualities against cancers, as well as other health benefits. Click here to read more about the benefits of glucosinolates.
The thyroid is controlled by the pituitary gland, and goitrogens are a substance that can disrupt the production of thyroid hormones. When goitrogens inhibit iodine uptake of the thyroid gland, the pituitary gland releases TSH, which is a thyroid stimulating hormone, and left unchecked this will promote the growth of thyroid tissue. When there is excess tissue, a goiter can grow - basically an abnormal enlargement of the thyroid gland. Goiters don’t always have symptoms, but they can cause incredible discomfort and may require surgery.
Is there a way to alleviate these problems?
Iodine deficiency is not a common problem in the United States, because it is found in a large amount of food products. However, in some areas of Europe and other parts of the world it can be a concern. If you want to avoid the goitrogenic properties of kale, here are some ways to avoid them:
Ensure you get enough iodine, since that is one of the leading factors of developing a goiter. Good sources include: Iodized salt, seaweed, kombu, cranberries, yogurt, milk, eggs and seafood.
Ensure you're getting enough selenium, which is the second most important mineral for the thyroid. Selenium supports healthy iodine levels, because it helps activate and synthesize thyroid hormone. Good sources of selenium include: Brazil nuts, tuna fish, wheat germ and sunflower seeds.
Cook your kale. By cooking kale, whether steaming, sauteing, baking or braising, you significantly reduce its goitrogenic properties. This is the same for any other cruciferous vegetable.
EAT SMARTER TAKE AWAY: Kale is a cruciferous vegetable, which has been associated with contributing to thyroid problems for those with an iodine deficiency.
3. Top 100 Kale Recipes
4. Kale Recipes in Video
Kale is a great cruciferous vegetable that adds a powerful dose of nutrition to smoothies and salads! Kale can have a variety of flavors, so be sure to experiment with different varieties to find what suits your palate. Eat kale raw, or cook it for a boost of flavor. Try some of these kale recipes to add some healthy, nutritious greens to your life!
5. About Kale
What is kale? Kale is a leaf cabbage from the species Brassica oleracea. It is a cultivar, meaning that it is a plant variety produced through selective breeding. It is thought to be one of the more primitive of the species, because it resembles the parent plant quite closely.
How do I choose the best “quality” kale?
The best way to choose a good batch of kale is making sure that the leaves are firm and that the stems seem strong. The leaves should be vibrant and rich - no browning or yellowing. Try to make sure you check the center of the batch, as sometimes the layered kale can wilt or start to go bad. Wilted leaves will alter the taste of kale, so try to buy kale that looks fresh.
Try to buy organic kale. Kale made it onto the Dirty Dozen list, meaning that even after one rinse they still can have pesticides on them. The taste might not change, but what you are consuming will.
The Dirty Dozen is decided by an environmental group, EWG, that is a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization which tests products and foods for their environmental standards.
What is “organic” kale?
Organic kale includes any kale grown not using synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, ionizing radiation, and are not genetically modified. In the United States a way to determine if kale is organic is if it has a green USDA organic sticker or labeling.
6. Kale VS Spinach
Kale and spinach are both nutritionally dense greens that are great for you and add a lot of flavor to a salad or meal! They are both rich in color, with a relatively similar nutrient content. While both are weight loss foods, kale is probably a little more nutritionally dense than spinach. Kale knocks spinach out of the park when it comes to Vitamins A, K, and C. You honestly can’t go wrong with either of these super nutrient rich greens!
7. History of Kale
A trendy and nutrient packed green!
One of the most popular vegetables in the world - loaded with health benefits.
Kale is called many different names in other regions of the world. The world kale is thought to be derived from the terms coles or caulis from the Greeks and Romans, which refers to the entire group of the cabbage family. The literal word “kale” is a Scottish word from that origin. The German word kohl has the same origin as well.
Relatives of kale, collards, is from the Anglo-Saxon term coleworts or colewyrts meaning “cabbage plants”.
Origins of Kale
Kale is a leaf cabbage from the species Brassica oleracea. It is a cultivar, meaning that it is a plant variety produced through selective breeding. It is thought to be one of the more primitive of the species, because it resembles the parent plant quite closely. No one is entirely certain where kale originates from, but it is thought that it is from Asia Minor and countries in the Mediterranean where it existed in prehistoric times. It was a very important food for Stone Age hunter-gatherers because it is very hardy and able to survive winters.
Kale is thought to have been cultivated up to 2200 years ago, and was an important plant in Ancient Roman diet and lore.
8. Q&A About Kale
How do you pronounce kale?
Is kale better for you than spinach?
They are pretty similar in nutrition, but we think kale might win out. Click here for more information.
What makes kale a superfood?
Kale has more nutrients per calorie than most other foods, making it an extremely healthy way to get your nutrients while eating low calorie. Click here for more information.
What is the best way to incorporate kale into your diet?
If you are hesitant about kale, try adding a handful of frozen kale to a smoothie. Freezing kale brings out the sweetness, and it can make it easier to adjust to the flavorful green. Kale chips are also a great way to get used to the flavor.
Does kale have more calcium than milk?
Per calorie, kale has more calcium than milk. However, we don’t recommend kale as your only calcium source. You would have to eat a lot of kale to get your required amount of calcium!
9. Nutritional Information
|Calorie 33||Calories from Fat 0|
|Total Fat 0.6g||0%|
|Saturated Fat 0.1g||0%|
|Polyunsaturated Fat 0.2g|
|Monounsaturated Fat 0g|
|Potassium 329 mg||9%|
|Total Carbohydrate 6g||2%|
|Dietary Fiber 1.3g||5%|
|Vitamin A 206%||Vitamin C 134%|
|Calcium 9%||Iron 6%|
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