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Kale-Queen of Greens

Megan Clontz - Monday, October 14, 2013

Kale, also called the “Queen of Greens,” is a curly green with a robust flavor. It is a nutritional superstar rich in nutrients yet very low in calories. Kale has gained popularity due to its exceptional health benefits and versatility as a food.

Nutrients in Kale

Minerals

Rich in calcium, magnesium, manganese and potassium.

Vitamins

One of the highest sources of vitamin K, A and C. Good source of vitamin E, B6, B3.

Phytonutrients

Kale is super rich in phytonutrients (naturally occurring plant chemicals that protect against many diseases and promote better health).

Glucosinolates

Kale is particularly high in organo-sulfur compounds (glucosinolates), which reduce the risk of cancer. These organo-sulfur compounds exhibit anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic and cholesterol-lowering properties. They also promote antioxidant activity by stimulating the production of glutathione, an intracellular antioxidant .

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Kale is abundant in the antioxidant carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. These carotenoids promote both heart health and eye health. One study reported that lutein prevented inflammatory conditions that triggered atherosclerotic plaque formation and exhibited [other] heart-protective effects2.

Flavonoids

Kale contains over 40 flavonoid compounds that are powerful antioxidants, including kaempferol and quercetin which are also potent anti-inflammatory agents. Consuming foods that are high in flavonoid compounds has been shown to protect against many degenerative health conditions.

Why is kale exceptional?

Cholesterol-lowering benefit

Steamed kale is said to lower cholesterol better than raw kale. The fiber components in kale enable easier excretion of bile acids from the body and, as a result, keep cholesterol levels in-check.

Anti-carcinogenic

The compound isothiocyanate (ITC), synthesized from glucosinolates found in kale, decreases the risk of at least five different types of cancer – breast, colon, bladder, prostate and ovarian.

Low-oxalate vegetable

Kale is a low-oxalate vegetable that is rich in calcium. A cup of cooked kale provides 93.6 mg of calcium. Low-oxalate foods high in calcium are beneficial because calcium from such foods is more readily available and absorbed by the body as very few calcium-oxalate compounds are formed . One study in particular showed that calcium from kale was more easily absorbed than calcium from milk 3.

Low calorie count

Kale provides a powerful package of phytonutrients, minerals and vitamins with very few calories. It is full of dietary fiber, manganese, magnesium, copper and calcium and rich in vitamins A, C, K and B6. It provides over 200% of the recommended allowance for vitamin A and over 600% for vitamin K.

So, next time you are at the grocery store or farmers’ market, be sure to pick up this superstar of

Ingredients

1 bunch Kale greens

1 tablespoon of finely chopped onions

1 clove of garlic (crushed)

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

¼ teaspoon or less of curry powder

(alternatively you can add 1 dry red chili for authentic taste depending on personal preference) Salt as needed

1 teaspoon olive oil for seasoning

For toppings:

¼ cup of almonds or cashew (crushed for crunch; sesame seeds also add a great crunch)

1 tablespoon LRF dry small coconut flakes

Tip:

1 tablespoon of cooked chickpeas would be a great addition to this recipe.

Method of preparation:

Heat oil in the saucepan. Add the cumin seeds and allow to splutter. Add crushed garlic, red chilis (if using) and onions, then saute. (Note: if using curry powder instead of red chilis, allow about 2 minutes for onions to cook, then lower the flame and add the curry powder last. Curry powder tends to burn easily so saute for a minute on low heat.) Add chopped kale to the pan and saute well so that the mixture blends with the kale. Close with a lid, and allow the greens to cook for 15 minutes. Add the crushed nuts, coconut flakes as garnish and mix well. This recipe serves well as a side for rice, a great filling for sandwiches and wraps or as a delicious left-over topping for salads.

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