Kale is recommended by nutritionists because it has many potential health benefits, including lowering blood sugar levels and improving heart health.
What Is Kale?
Kale (Brassica oleracea) is a leafy, dark green cabbage cultivar that, unlike regular cabbage, does not form a head as it grows. Kale is a cruciferous vegetable that is used in a variety of recipes including main dishes, side dishes, appetizers, salads, and soups. You can make a salad with the green leaves or sautÃ© a bunch of kale in olive oil. The texture and flavor of kale will vary depending on the variety and method of cooking.
3 Types of Kale
Kale varieties differ in flavor, texture, and color. Kale comes in a variety of varieties, including:
1. Curly kale: This variety of kale is commonly used in salads and cooking. Curly kale has frilly edges and easy-to-tear leaves that range in color from bright green to dark green.
2. Dinosaur kale: Also known as Lacinato kale or Tuscan kale, this kale is blue-green and has large, scaly leaves. Because of its size and lack of bitterness, dinosaur kale is an excellent choice for kale chips.
3. 'Red Russian' kale: This kale has smaller, flatter leaves than other cultivars and reddish-purplish stalks. Because the leaves are bitter, 'Red Russian' kale is best served on sandwiches or as a garnish.
Health Benefits of Kale
Kale is a superfood that is high in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and riboflavin. It also contains antioxidants and minerals such as calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and folate. Consider these health advantages:
Kale is good for your heart. Heart health is aided by nutrients such as folate, potassium, fiber, and calcium. Kale lowers LDL cholesterol levels, lowering the risk of heart disease. Kale's flavonoid antioxidants and fiber content can also help lower blood sugar levels, which is beneficial to heart health.
Kale has anti-inflammatory properties. Kale's antioxidants, which include beta-carotene, fight free radicals in the body, boosting the immune system and aiding in the prevention of chronic diseases.
Kale has been shown to aid in brain development. Iron, folate, and vitamin B6 are all found in kale and help support normal brain development.
Kale can help with bone health. Kale's high vitamin K content promotes bone mineral density and may help prevent osteoporosis.
Kale can help with blood clotting. Vitamin K also aids the body's ability to properly coagulate blood. Kale should be avoided by people who take blood thinners. If you are taking blood thinners, talk to your doctor or a dietitian before eating kale.
Kale can help with eye health. The carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which give kale its green color, support human retina health and help to prevent macular degeneration.
How to Cook Kale
Kale is a versatile leafy vegetable that can be eaten raw in salads or cooked into a variety of dishes. Consider the following kale preparation methods:
Bake: Kale can be baked or roasted with other greens, such as brussels sprouts or collard greens, as part of a vegetable medley. Cook kale with root vegetables like turnips and sweet potatoes for a colorful variation. Drizzle maple syrup over kale for a sweet kick.
Blend: For a hearty Italian kale soup for a winter dinner, blend this vegetable. Kale can be used in almost any soup recipe; it pairs well with lentils, farro, and Italian sausage. The greens can also be blended to make a refreshing kale smoothie. To make a low-carb snack, combine nuts, coconut milk, and ginger in your smoothie.
Roast: Roast kale for a crunchy snack. To make kale chips, toss the greens with oil and season with spices such as cumin, garlic powder, za'atar, curry powder, chili powder, and nutritional yeast.
SautÃ©: One of the most common ways to prepare kale is to sautÃ© it. Remove the stems from the kale before sautÃ©ing it, or keep them for added crunch. (Be aware that the stems may take longer to cook.) Toss kale and other green vegetables with olive oil before sautÃ©ing them, or cook them on their own to add to pasta or pizza. For a citrus kick, squeeze some fresh lemon juice on top.
How to Store Kale
Kale is a hardy green, but it will dry out and lose its crunch, flavor, color, and nutrient content over time. To get the most out of your kale, try the following storage methods:
Dried: Drying your kale is another option for preserving it. This method will not extend the life of your kale as a fresh, green vegetable, but it can be used as an ingredient in recipes or as a tasty snack on its own. Kale can be dried in the oven for several hours or in a dehydrator. When it's dry, season with salt, pepper, and other spices. Consume it as kale chips or as a crunchy salad ingredient.
In the freezer: Kale, like many other vegetables, should be blanched before freezing. Prep the kale as if you were going to make a recipe: remove the veins and chop or tear the leaves to the desired size. Then, for a minute or two, place the leaves in a large pot of boiling water. Remove them from the hot water as quickly as possible and place them in a large bowl of ice water. Dry the kale thoroughly with a salad spinner or paper towels. Place the leaves on a baking sheet in a single layer and place in the freezer for a couple of hours. Once frozen, store them in a freezer bag or airtight container in the freezer for up to eight months.
In the refrigerator, keep a fresh bunch or bunches of kale in the crisper drawer. Wipe away any excess moisture before wrapping the kale leaves in a paper towel and placing them in a plastic bag. Kale bunches will keep in the fridge for a week.