There are several varieties of kale which include curly kale, ornamental kale, and dinosaur (or Lacinato or Tuscan) kale, all of which differ in taste, texture, and appearance.
Try to include kale as one of the cruciferous vegetables you eat on a regular basis (at least 2-3 times/ week, and make a serving size at least 11/2 cups) if you want to receive the wonderful health benefits provided by the cruciferous vegetable family.
Kale is an excellent source of vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids), vitamin C, vitamin K, copper, and manganese. It is a very good source of vitamin B6, dietary fiber, calcium, potassium, vitamin E, vitamin B2, iron, magnesium, vitamin B1, omega-3 fatty acids, phosphorus, protein, folate, and niacin.
Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory Benefits- In addition to conventional antioxidants like vitamin C, beta-carotene, and manganese, researchers can now identify over 45 different flavonoids in kale. Kale's flavonoids combine both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits in ways that give kale a leading dietary role with respect to avoidance of chronic inflammation and oxidative stress. Kale provides significant amounts of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the basic building block for all omega-3 fats which have anti-inflammatory benefits.
Cancer-preventive benefits- These benefits are through glucosinolate nutrients, and antioxidants, carotenoids and flavonoids. Kale has been shown in research to provide benefits to colon and breast cancer, as well as, bladder, prostate and ovarian cancers.
Cardiovascular Support- This is due to the rich source of fiber which helps lower cholesterol.
Detoxification System- Kale provides support to the body’s detox system through glucosinolates.
Selection and Storage:
Look for kale with firm, deeply colored leaves that look fresh, unwilted and free of any signs of browning and small holes. Choose kale with smaller-sized leaves since these will be more tender and have a more mild flavor than those with larger leaves. Kale should be displayed in a cool environment since warm temperatures will cause it to wilt and will negatively affect its flavor.
Store kale in the refrigerator where it will keep for 5 days. Place kale in a plastic storage bag removing as much air from the bag as possible. Do not wash kale before storing because exposure to water will encourage spoilage.
Pesticides: According to the Environmental Working Group's 2020 report "Shopper's Guide to Pesticides," conventionally grown kale are at the top of the 12 fruits and vegetables on which pesticide residues have been most frequently found. Therefore, individuals wanting to avoid pesticide-associated health risks may want to avoid consumption of kale unless it is grown organically.
Oxalates: Kale is among a small number of foods that contain measurable amounts of oxalates, (naturally occurring substances found in plants, animals, and human beings). When oxalates become too concentrated in body fluids, they can crystallize and cause health problems. For this reason, individuals with already existing and untreated kidney or gallbladder problems may want to avoid eating kale.
People with thyroid dysfunction: Kale may be referred to as a “goitrogen”, certain plant-derived compounds (also found in other cruciferous vegetables- cabbage broccoli, cauliflower, rutabagas, turnips) which may cause swelling of the thyroid gland. This may lead to the thyroid not being able to produce as many of the hormones that are needed for regulating metabolism. Consumption of these vegetables should be reduced but not eliminated in individuals with thyroid dysfunction. If you have normal thyroid function and consume adequate amounts of iodine, these vegetables will have no effect on your thyroid and may be eaten liberally.
Recipe Suggestion: This Tuscan Kale Salad from True Food Kitchen is delicious. We make it quite often in our house.