Thursday, September 18, 2014

KALE - Articles by a Naturopathic Doctor ( N.D.)

Kale – The world’s healthiest vegetable!

Kale is arguably the world’s healthiest vegetable. This curly leafed veggie has received a great deal of press lately and can be found in smoothies, raw juices, salads and even baked as chips. Why all the hype? Kale is a nutritional powerhouse of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that prevent cancer, osteoporosis and reduces overall inflammation and oxidative stress. One cup of kale has only 35 calories, 5 grams of fiber and has more iron than beef, per calorie!

What is Kale?

Kale is a member of the Brassica family of vegetables and is a sister to cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, collards and brussel sprouts.You’ll recognize it by its curly leaves and beautiful dark green colour. It is a rich source of vitamins K, C and A, as well as iron, calcium and magnesium. Kale is considered one of the healthiest vegetables around because it supplies so many nutrients and antioxidants in very few calories, making it incredibly nutrient dense. The key to a healthy diet is eating nutrient dense foods as often as possible.

What is Kale used for?

Kale has a long history as a culinary staple in cultures all over the world, but more recently has gained popularity in North America. Kale has become the new spinach and you’ll find kale as the secret, health boosting ingredient in green smoothies and raw juices because of its many health benefits. Kale is antioxidant rich, making in an important food for preventing cancer and chronic inflammation. It also enhances detoxification, reduces cholesterol and prevents osteoporosis. 

How does Kale work?

First of all, kale is a green leafy vegetable and surely you’ve heard that increasing green leafy veggies in your diet is good for you. Buy why? Green leafy veggies contain antioxidants. The deeper the colour, the more antioxidants it contains. Kale is unique because it has a high amount of two powerful types of antioxidants, carotenoids and flavonoids. These antioxidants have been shown to reduce oxidative stress and chronic inflammation. Kale is also a rich source of glucosinolates such as indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane, which have well documented cancer preventative properties and promotes detoxification through the liver. Since kale is a good source of vitamin K, it prevents osteoporosis because vitamin K helps attract calcium to bone tissue, making bones stronger and healthier. 

Interestingly, there have been some research studies to show that kale is very effective at reducing cholesterol levels and is even comparable to some cholesterol lowering medications. It’s important to note that steamed kale has significantly better cholesterol lowering effects than raw kale.

How do you use it?

Blend it to make a green smoothie!
Kale is easy to use! Look for kale with firm, deeply coloured leaves and moist hardy stems. The leaves should look fresh and be free from wilting, yellowing, browning and holes. Choose smaller leaves for more tender and mild tasting kale. Store your kale in the fridge, unwashed in a plastic bag with most of the air removed and it will last up to 5 days. Kale becomes bitter the longer it is stored, so be sure to use it up. You can easily add a handful or two of the de-stemmed leaves to a smoothie and you won’t even notice the taste but will see your smoothie transform into a beautiful green colour. If you have a juicer, you can juice kale leaves and stems and it tastes great with juiced cucumber, celery and apples. Kale can also be used in salads, baked as chips and tastes great steamed.

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