Kale is one of the most powerful green vegetables that has recently started to gain in worldwide popularity among the nutrition experts. The expression “queen of greens” best illustrates the importance of this super nutritious, vitamin packed, extremely healthy and often overlooked leafy green.

It is well known that consuming raw vegetables is one of the best natural ways to improve your health. Therefore, when preparing your raw vegetable juices, you should certainly include fresh Kale juice as a fantastic tonic that can do wonders for your health.

The alternative name of this vegetable is Borecole. It belongs to the same plant family as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, sprouts and collard greens. It comes in several varieties differentiated by the shape of the leaves, such as Scots or Curly Kale, Rape Kale and Tuscan Kale.

various types of kale

If you have neglected Kale in the past, probably now is a good time to consider this vegetable on your next visit to the supermarket.

Nutritional Facts and Information

One cup (130 g) of Kale has only 33 Calories. One cup of Kale provides more than three times the daily requirement of Vitamin A; about 90 percent of Vitamin C; and over 10 times the daily requirement of Vitamin K.

Mineral Content

If the above was not enough to convince you how nutritious Kale is, let us look at the mineral content: kale is abundant in calcium, iron, copper, phosphorous, manganese, magnesium and potassium. (The nutrient information was provided by USDA SR-21.) It is clear that all these micro-elements are needed for the body in order to maintain normal functioning.

Vitamin K

Maybe you have noticed that one cup of Kale contains more than ten times the daily recommended dose of Vitamin K. In a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, dietary intake of vitamin K is associated with a reduced overall risk of incident and fatal cancer. In addition to Kale, Vitamin K is found in spinach, parsley and collard greens, as well as in some animal products such as cheese. Besides being an antioxidant, Vitamin K helps with normal blood clotting and maintains the strength of the bones.

Fiber Content in Kale

Kale contains about 4 g of dietary fiber per cup. The fiber content helps digestion since it has detoxification properties. It is known that dietary fiber from cruciferous vegetables binds bile acids, which in turn leads to their much easier excretion from the body and lowering the cholesterol levels of the body.

Contraindications and Concerns

Certain people are sensitive to high concentration of Vitamin K. So, make sure you consult with your physician prior to including substantial amounts of kale in your diet.

Another danger lies in the fact that Kale contains oxalates. Oxalates are natural substances that interfere with the normal calcium absorption. In order to prevent this, avoid eating calcium rich foods, such as milk or cheese and Kale at the same time.

Antioxidant Properties

One of the problems with the food industry today is that it routinely removes all beneficial flavonoids, isoflavonoids and other bioactives from the processed food. The main reason is the bitter taste that they bring to the final product. In fact, despite the bitterness, you never want these substances removed, as they are very healthy and beneficial for the human body. If you consume it raw, Kale is a storehouse of flavonoids.

Experts say there are more than 45 types of flavonoids in kale, including the beneficial kaempferol and qercetin. In addition, Kale contains several carotenoids, such as lutein, beta carotene and zeaxanthin. Some of the flavonoids found in Kale are also excellent anti-inflammatory agents, so this type of vegetable successfully combines antioxidant, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties.

Kaempferol is present in other plant sources besides Kale, including grapefruits, cabbage, endive, tomato and grapes. It has high biological activity, which some researchers relate to a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

Kale is at the top of the list of vegetables with high amounts of Quercitin along with red onion and watercress. Quercitin’s biological activity is believed to help treat conditions of the blood vessels and the heart. It has been used for a range of additional health problems, including preventing cancer, infections, diabetes and cataracts.

The health benefits of Kale are surely not a result of a single antioxidant: it is reasonable to assume that the synergetic effect of Kale’s broad spectrum of flavonoids and carotenoids is to be held responsible for that.

Kale Juicer Recipes

Kale juice, either pure or in combination with other types of veggie juices, can be a great way to get you started in the morning. Adding some lemon juice, apple, mint or ginger can enrich its flavor and make it even more refreshing. Here is a recipe that Gwyneth Paltrow uses for her freshly prepared morning juice:

  • Take five large leaves of kale, discard the ribs and roughly chop them.
  • Take one lemon and remove the pith and zest.
  • Add one large roughly chopped apple and one spring of mint.
  • Put all these ingredients into your juicer and add some spring water to the obtained juice.

Here are two additional juice recipes that have Kale as their main ingredient. They can be great cleanse recipes.

Spring Green Juice

  • 5 large kale leaves
  • 3 large handfuls of spinach
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 apple
  • ½ lemon – peeled
  • ½ lime – peeled
  • 1 small ginger piece

Kale Celery Recipe

  • 5 large Kale leaves
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • 1 large apple
  • 1 small ginger knuckle

If you want to enjoy the benefits of Kale’s dietary fiber, juicing is not the right way. Instead, you should consider preparing some delicious Kale salads, for example like in the next recipe (makes 6 cups of salad):

Raw Kale Salad

  • 4 cups chopped raw kale
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 small avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion, diced
  • 2-3 Tbsp seeds or nuts

You can use this recipe as a guide, replacing the vegetables and other ingredients as you please to match the desired taste.

Organic vs Conventially Grown Kale

Several years ago Kale popped up on the list of produce that readily absorb high concentration of pollutants. The list of fruits and vegetables that are most contaminated is published by the Environmental Working Group at www.foodnews.org.

To avoid eating food that is high in insecticides and pesticides, it is a good idea to purchase any of the listed vegetables, including Kale, in their organic variation. The alternative is to grow your own Kale, which as you can read in the next paragraph, is not that difficult.

To Buy or to Grow Your Own

Kale is one of the vegetables that thrives during the cool months of the year. Even though some may argue that Kale tastes best when it has been touched by frost, it is very easy to grow it indoors and even during any season. Kale can withstand temperatures down to 20 F ( -7 C), but it shouldn’t be kept above 80 F (27 C) as it tends to become bitter and tough when the temperature is too high. It takes up to 3 months to be able to harvest your Kale leaves if you plant from seed. The waiting is worth your while as you will have nice and fresh deeply colored Kale leaves at your hand’s reach. For more information on planting and harvesting Kale as well as other information and recipes check out the excellent Book of Kale: “The Easy-to-Grow Superfood” by Sharon Hanna.

If you buy Kale from your grocer or supermarket, look for produce with firm stems and leaves. The color should be deep green, purple or red. The deeper the color the fresher the leaves. If you prefer milder and more tender flavor, pick up the smaller leaves. In case you have to use mature leaves, make sure you cut off the central rib to avoid the possible bitter taste.

Cheers!

References and further readings

1. vitamins-supplements-QUERCETIN
2. kale-an-easy-beginners-guide-to-growing
3. ajcn.nutrition.org
4. organic-food-and-kale

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