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Healthy food trends -- kale

Kale is a leafy, dark green vegetable (sometimes with purple). It is full of nutrients and flavor. Kale belongs to the same family as broccoli, collard greens, cabbage, and cauliflower. All of these vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals.

Kale has become popular as one of the healthiest and tastiest green vegetables you can eat. Its hearty, peppery flavor can be enjoyed in many ways.

Alternative names

Healthy food trends -- borecole

Why it is good for you

Kale is full of vitamins and minerals, including:

Vitamin K in kale promotes healthy blood and may help keep your bones strong. If you take blood-thinning medicine (such as anticoagulant or antiplatelet drugs), you may need to limit vitamin K foods. Vitamin K can affect how these medicines work.

Kale is rich in iron, calcium, potassium, and has a good amount of fiber to help keep your bowel movements regular. Kale contains antioxidants that help prevent cell damage and may also help protect against cancer.

You can also count on kale and its nutrients to help support your eye health, immune system, and heart.

Kale is filling and low in calories. So eating it will can help you maintain a healthy weight. Kale is one of several "super veggies" that give you the most nutrients for the fewest calories.

Eating kale is a great way to get many nutrients in one small helping -- you don't have to consume a lot to get the benefits. For example, a cup of kale contains well over 20% of the daily recommended amount of vitamins A and C.

How it is prepared

Kale can be prepared in several simple ways.

  • Eat it raw. But be sure to wash it first. Add a little lemon juice or dressing, and perhaps other veggies to make a salad.
  • Add it to a smoothie. Tear off a handful, wash it, and add it to your next smoothie of fruits, vegetables, and yogurt.
  • Add it to soups, stir fries, or pasta dishes. You can add a bunch to almost any cooked meal.
  • Steam it in water. Add a little salt and pepper, or other flavorings like red pepper flakes.
  • Sauté it on the stove top with garlic and olive oil. Add chicken, mushrooms, or beans for a hearty meal.
  • Roast it in the oven for delicious kale chips. Toss freshly washed kale strips with olive oil, salt, and pepper using your hands. Arrange in single layers on a roasting pan. Roast in the oven at 275° for about 20 minutes or so until crisp, but not brown.

Often, children take to raw vegetables rather than cooked. So give raw kale a try. Adding kale to smoothies can also help you get kids to eat their veggies.

Sometimes kale, especially the roasted chips, gets caught in your teeth. Check and clean your teeth after you eat kale.

Where to find kale

Kale is available in the grocery store produce section, year round. You will find it near the broccoli and other dark green veggies. It may come in bunches of long stiff leaves, baby leaves, or sprouts. The leaves can be flat or curly. Avoid kale that is wilting or yellowing.

Put kale on your weekly shopping list. It will last in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days.

Recipe

Chicken Vegetable Soup with Kale

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • ½ cup onion (chopped)
  • ½ carrot (chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon thyme (ground)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 2 cups water or chicken broth)
  • ¾ cups tomatoes (diced)
  • 1 cup chicken; cooked, skinned, and cubed
  • ½ cup brown or white rice (cooked)
  • 1 cup kale (chopped)

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a medium sauce pan. Add onion and carrot. Sauté until vegetables are tender -- about 5 to 8 minutes.
  2. Add thyme and garlic. Sauté for one more minute.
  3. Add water or broth, tomatoes, cooked rice, chicken and kale.
  4. Simmer for 5 to 10 more minutes.

Source: Nutrition.gov

References

Bosetti C, Filomeno M, Riso P, Polesel J, Levi F, Talamini R, et al. Cruciferous vegetables and cancer risk in a network of case-control studies. Ann Oncol. 2012;23(8):2198-203. PMID: 22328735 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22328735.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nutrition for Everyone: Fruits and Vegetables. Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. 2013. www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/fruitsvegetables. Accessed June 3, 2014.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015 - 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Available at: health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines. Accessed January 15, 2016.

Update Date 5/28/2014

Updated by: Jennifer K. Mannheim, ARNP, Medical Staff, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, Seattle Children's Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. Editorial update 01/18/2016.

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