I wanted to put together a great 3-part blog talking about the new “Super Antioxidants” – Dark Greens. This is really a great opportunity to learn more about these powerful vegetables and how you can make them a part of your nutrition and meals. Here is the first of the Dark Greens, KALE…
Most people never eat these greens, with the exception of occasional spinach in a salad. I had heard that Kale, and other “dark greens”, were good for you but they always just looked so green and unappealing. I figured only those “health nuts” ate these and were pushing them onto people like me who ate “normal” food. However, once I committed to getting healthy and eating a more nutrient dense selection of foods, I incorporated these foods in my everyday eating. I immediately began to feel the incredible health benefits of these foods that are rich in nutrients, vitamins, and minerals…and it only took a week to start feeling totally different! I started eating these dark leafy greens on the premise that they made me feel better and were good for you, but then I wanted to know why.
Here’s what I learned:
Kale (the dark green to the far left)
Kale is highly nutritious, has powerful antioxidant properties, and is anti-inflammatory. One cup of cooked kale contains an astounding 1,328 percent of the RDA for vitamin K, 192 percent of the RDA for vitamin A, and 89 percent of the RDA for vitamin C. It’s also a good source of calcium and iron.
Kale is in the same plant family as broccoli and cabbage, and like its cruciferous cousins, it contains high levels of the cancer-fighting compound sulforaphane. This compound is what guards against prostate, gastric, skin, and breast cancers by boosting the body’s detoxification enzymes and fighting free radicals in the body. The indoles in kale have been shown to protect against breast, cervical, and colon cancers. The vitamin K in kale promotes blood clotting, protects the heart, and helps build strong bones by anchoring calcium to the bone. It also has more antioxidant power than spinach, protecting against free-radical damage. Kale is extra rich in beta-carotene (containing seven times as much as broccoli), lutein, and zeaxanthin (ten times the amount in broccoli). In Chinese medicine, kale is used to help ease lung congestion.
How much should you eat? Like cabbage, the more kale you can eat the better. A daily serving is ideal. Eat it as much as you can, as long as you can find it fresh at your local grocery or farmer’s market. In some areas, it’s available all year. However, in other markets, it only makes an appearance during summer and fall.
- Kale’s growing season extends nearly year-round; the only time it’s out of season is summer, when plenty of other leafy greens are abundant.
- Steam or sauté kale on its own, or add it to soups and stews. Cooking helps tenderize the leaves.
- Kale is also a great addition when it’s blended in fruit smoothies or juiced with other vegetables. Or cut in small pieces and add it to your salad!
There you have it, the first of the “Super Antioxidant Dark Greens”. Are you excited to start eating more Kale? Mix it with your normal spinach and salad greens and it will upgrade any salad. Or put a bunch in your smoothies and it will really upgrade the value of that delicious drink. Got questions about Kale? Leave a comment and I will get back to you with an answer. Up next in the threesome of dark greens is Watercress…and you only thought it was used for decoration. Stay tuned, you will find out so much more than you ever thought existed in this second powerful Dark Green!