Food Focus: Kale
Of all the super healthy greens, kale is the king.
Kale is a popular vegetable, a member of the cabbage family (Brassica oleracea). It is related to cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. There are many different types of kale. The leaves can be green, purple or even black (Cavalo Nero), and have either a smooth or curly shape.
Kale is loaded with all sorts of beneficial compounds, some of which have powerful medicinal properties. Kale is very high in nutrients and very low in calories, making it one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet.
A 65g serving of raw kale contains only 33 calories and yet provides over 6 TIMES the RDA for vitamin K which is vital for blood clotting, bone health and protecting against heart disease, DOUBLE your RDA for Beta Carotene a powerful antioxidant thought to support healthy vision and the immune system and 134% of the RDA for vitamin C
It also contains significant levels of calcium and potassium (which aid healthy blood pressure levels) plus magnesium, and iron which are good for energy production.
A good source of fibre, Kale also contains very little fat, but a large proportion of the fat in it is the omega-3 fatty acid called alpha linolenic acid.
Health benefits of kale, backed by science include:
Antioxidants like Quercetin and Kaempferol found in kale are substances that help counteract oxidative damage by free radicals in the body. Oxidative damage is believed to be among the leading drivers of ageing and many diseases, including cancer.
Can Help Lower Cholesterol, Which May Reduce The Risk of Heart Disease
One study found that daily consumption of kale juice for 12 weeks increased HDL (the “good”) cholesterol by 27% and lowered LDL levels by 10%, while also improving antioxidant status.
According to one study, steaming kale dramatically increases the bile acid binding effect. Steamed kale is actually 43% as potent as cholestyramine, a cholesterol lowering drug that functions in this way.
Kale is loaded with compounds believed to have protective effects against cancer.
Studies have shown that cruciferous vegetables (including kale) may significantly lower the risk of several cancers, although the evidence in humans is mixed.
Kale is High in Lutein and Zeaxanthin, Powerful Nutrients That Protect the Eyes
Two of the main ones are lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoid antioxidants that are found in large amounts in kale. Many studies have shown that people who eat enough lutein and zeaxanthin have a much lower risk of macular degeneration and cataracts, two very common eye disorders.
Kale Should Able to Help You Lose Weight
Low in calories… but still provides significant bulk from high water and fibre content, kale has a low energy density. Eating plenty of foods with a low energy density has been shown to aid weight loss in numerous studies
Adding kale to your diet:
You can simply steam it and eat it as a side dish, add it to your salads, stir fries or use it in recipes. Or try our recipe for Kale Chips: delicious and a great, crunchy and super healthy snack.
Dressed Baked Kale Chips
Crispy and chewy kale chips baked in the oven and seasoned to perfection. Enjoy these as a healthy alternative to crisps. Makes 2 Servings
- Approx. 1/2 bag kale leaves
- 1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (or marmite)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 3/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- Preheat oven to 150C. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Remove leaves from the stems of the kale and roughly tear it up into large pieces.). Wash the leaves and pat with kitchen towel until thoroughly dry.
- Add kale leaves into a large bowl. Massage in the oil until all the nooks and crannies are coated in oil. Now sprinkle on the spices/seasonings and toss to combine.
- Spread out the kale onto the prepared baking sheet into a single layer, being sure not to overcrowd the kale.
- Bake for 10 minutes, rotate the pan, and bake for another 12-15 minutes more until the kale begins to firm up. The kale will look shrunken, but this is normal. I bake for 25 mins. total in my oven.
- Cool the kale on the sheet for 3 minutes before digging in! This really makes all the difference!
- Enjoy immediately as they lose their crispiness with time.