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 flavor can be enjoyed in many ways.
Why it is Good for you
Kale is full of vitamins and minerals, including:
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, 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 can help you maintain a healthy weight. Kale is a very nutrient-dense food that gives you the most nutrients for the fewest calories. Two cups (500 milliliters, mL) of raw kale have approximately 1 gram (g) each of fiber and protein for just 16 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 (just under 10% for vitamin 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. Rub lemon juice or dressing into the leaves then allow them to wilt a bit before serving.
- 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 and dried 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°F (135°C) 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.
There are many delicious recipes you can make with kale. Here is one to try.
Chicken Vegetable Soup with Kale
- Two teaspoons (10 mL) vegetable oil
- Half cup (120 mL) onion (chopped)
- Half carrot (chopped)
- One teaspoon (5 mL) thyme (ground)
- Two garlic cloves (minced)
- Two cups (480 mL) water or chicken broth)
- Three fourth cup (180 mL) tomatoes (diced)
- One cup (240 mL) chicken; cooked, skinned, and cubed
- Half cup (120 mL) brown or white rice (cooked)
- One cup (240 mL) kale (chopped)
- Heat oil in a medium sauce pan. Add onion and carrot. Sauté until vegetables are tender -- about 5 to 8 minutes.
- Add thyme and garlic. Sauté for one more minute.
- Add water or broth, tomatoes, cooked rice, chicken and kale.
- Simmer for 5 to 10 more minutes.
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Bosetti C, Filomeno M, Riso P, et al. Cruciferous vegetables and cancer risk in a network of case-control studies.Ann Oncol. 2012;23(8):2198-2203. PMID: 22328735 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22328735.
US Department of Health and Human Services and US Department of Agriculture. 2015 - 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/resources/2015-2020_Dietary_Guidelines.pdf. Updated December 2015. Accessed May 4, 2016.
Review Date 4/24/2016
Updated by: Emily Wax, RD, The Brooklyn Hospital Center, Brooklyn, NY. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.