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Kale belongs to a family of plants known as crucifers named for their four-petal flowers that are arranged in the shape of a cross.

Like all crucifers, Kale contains cancer fighting compounds called glucosinolates.Though they make kale bitter, glucosinolates are the reason that kale is such a superstar in vegetable nutrition. The crucifers with the most glucosinolates are kale and Brussels sprouts.

Photo Credit: Lisa Missenda

Photo Credit: Lisa Missenda

Kale has a combination of phytonutrients that make it uniquely equipped to fight inflammation. Kale has an extremely high ORAC rating (oxygen radical absorbance).

Kale is rich in vitamins A, C and K as well as iron and calcium. In fact, one serving of Kale has more calcium than 6 oz. of milk and more fiber than three slices of whole wheat bread (Robinson, 2013).

Kale is best when eaten fresh. Raw kale has more nutrient value than cooked; and when cooking it is best to steam or sauté it just long enough for the leaves to wilt. Overcooking will give it a strong sulfurous odor (Robinson, 2013).

Best when freshly harvested, the longer it is stored in the refrigerator, the more bitter it becomes, and it loses close to 80 percent of its health benefits. Look for kale with firm, deeply colored leaves and moist, hardy stems. Leaves should be fresh and green, never wilted.

 

References:

  • Robinson, J. (2013). Eating on the wild side. Little Brown & Co: New York.
  • The World’s healthiest Foods http:// http://www.whfoods.com/
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