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Kale

Kale is an ancient vegetable of the cabbage family. The leaves give you more nutritional value for fewer calories that almost any other food. Kale is rich in antioxidants and a great addition to salads and stir-fries in the place of cabbage.

Kale
The thermal nature is warming.
The flavour is .
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What it is

Kale is a member of the cabbage family being closer to wild cabbage that most domesticated types. In the Middle Ages kale was one of the most common green vegetables in all Europe. It is a hardy cold weather green with the central leaves not forming a head. 

Kale can be classified by leaf type:
• Curly leaved (Scots Kale Lutes)
• Plain leaved
• Rape Kale Lutes
• Leaf and spear (a cross between curly leaved and plain leaved Kale Lutes)
• Cavolo nero (also known as black cabbage, Tuscan Kale Lutes, Lacinato and dinosaur Kale Lutes)


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What is in it

Kale is an excellent source of manganese and the vitamins A, C and K. It is a very good source of fiber, the amino acid tryptophan, the minerals copper, calcium and potassium and vitamin B6. Kale is also a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, protein, the minerals iron, magnesium and phosphorus and the vitamins B1, B2, B3, E and folate.

Kale is a rich source of phytonutrients and chlorophyll. It is also a rich source of, the carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene, which are potent antioxidants, which help to clear your blood of damaging free radicals.


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What it is good for

Kale is a highly nutritious vegetable with powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities. It may protect against cancer including ovarian and breast cancers and lower the risk of cataracts and other eye disorders. 

Kale can be used in healing to;
• Eases lung congestion
• Benefits the stomach
• Treats ulcers, particularly of the stomach and duodenal. 
• Treat vision problems


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When you get it

Although you can find kale year around, it is sweeter and has more nutrients during its season of winter and early spring. It is easy to grow in colder temperatures when the light frosts will give you an especially sweet flavor.


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Which to select

Why Organic
Choose organically grown vegetables. To eat organic means to live cleanly, free of pesticides and toxins. It is a conscious choice. One made in order to survive right along with the planet that sustains us. Organically grown foods do not over-run the landfills with toxic waste from their farming or subject your body to unhealthy toxins. For your health and for the planet, choose to eat organic foods. To understand more about why organic is better please read our “Why Organic?” special feature.

The vegetable
Kale should have fresh, firm, rich colored leaves and a moist hardy stem. Avoid leaves that look wilted or with yellowing or small holes as these will have fewer nutrients with a loss of its sweet flavor.

Select kale with small leaves as they are more tender and with a milder flavor. 


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Where to store

Store in the refrigerator wrapped in a damp paper towel and in a container or plastic bag. Kale freezes well and actually tastes sweeter and more flavorful after being exposed to a frost.

Kale can be kept for several days although it is best to eat as soon as possible as the longer it is kept the more bitter it will become. Fresh is defiantly best for kale.


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How to use

Wash Kale well to remove any dirt that may remain. The leaves can be easily broken from the stem with your hands or use a knife if you prefer. The stem of the kale can also be eaten in the same way as the broccoli stem or the stem of the cabbage.

You can steam kale for a few minutes to soften slightly, add it shredded to coleslaws or salads. As with other leafy green vegetables it is best to lightly cook it or retain texture and nutrients.

Stamp pot is a great winter Dutch recipe. 

Stamp pot is often called mash pot in English. It is made from a combination of potatoes mashed with one or several other vegetables. These vegetable pairings traditionally include sauerkraut, endive, kale, or carrot and onion. It is usually served with sausage or stewed meat. 

It is prepared by boiling the vegetables and potatoes separately. Once done, the potatoes are added to the same pot as the vegetables and all are thoroughly mashed together. Some people add applesauce to this mix for extra flavor and/or to soften the mix. A rookworst is the preferred piece of meat to be added to the dish. Most Dutch people make a small 'pond' of gravy in the middle of the vegetable mix.


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How much you need

To reach your health goals and become healthy the most important step is to eat a well balanced diet of food from across all the food groups. 

For an average person 
 
Servings per food group:
• Whole Grains (Carbohydrates):  6 – 8 
• Meat and beans (Protein):  1 – 2 
• High quality fats: 1
• Dairy:     2 – 3
• Fruit: 2
• Vegetables: 5
• Water: 6

This list is of recommended daily amount of each food group for an average person 19 to 50 years old with a low level of exercise (30minutes of less a day). If you are older you may need a little less, if you are younger, a little more and if you are very active even more food should be eaten. For more information on serving sizes see our special feature on Sizing Up A Serve.

It is important to ensure that the foods that you eat are of a high quality. The highest quality product is one that is fresh, whole and organic.

Fresh – over time the quality of nutrients degrades with their potency dying off.

Whole – many foods, particularly vegetarian foods carry a lot of their nutrients in their outer skins. So leave bran, germs and skins on the food where possible; always with grains and whenever the fruit of vegetable permits.

Organic – ensure you have the cleanest food by using only foods that are grown without pesticides, or other chemicals, in a natural way as people have in all bar the last 80 years of history. Chemical burdened foods are a modern invention designed to increase output with little regard to the health of the end user.


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Things to watch out for

Kale contains Oxalic Acid, naturally occurring substances found in plants, animals, and human beings. When Oxalic Acid become too concentrated in body fluids, they can crystallize and cause health problems including kidney stones. For this reason, individuals with already existing and untreated kidney or gallbladder problems should avoid oxalic acid. Although it appears that oxalic acid from vegetal sources may, in most cases lead to these problems.


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References

The Journal of Nutrition – The American Society for Nutrition, http://jn.nutrition.org, retrieved 05/2009.

Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kale, retrieved 05/2009

Prepared by the editors at Harvard Health Publications in consultation with Meir J. Stampfer, M.D., Dr.P.H., Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition, Vitamins and Minerals: What you need to know,  Harvard School of Public Health, 2008.

Bratman, Steven, and David Kroll. Natural Health Bible. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1999.

Paul Pitchford. Healing with whole food, North Atlantic Books, 2002.

Goldman L, Ausiello D. Cecil Textbook of Medicine. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders, 2004.

Norton Greenberger M.D. and Roanne Weisman, 4 Weeks to Healthy Digestion, Harvard School of Public Health. (2008)


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