Dr Libby on kale
Kale packs a mighty nutritional punch. Kale is a good source of vitamin A, C and K and is packed full of antioxidants. Eating a diet high in vitamin K, mainly found in leafy greens, can help protect against various cancers. It’s also an important vitamin for a wide variety of bodily functions including normal bone health and the prevention of blood clotting. Kale is also rich in vitamin A, essential for healthy vision and skin. If you weren’t already convinced by the benefits of including kale in your diet, it also supports the body’s detoxification processes. A good source of sulphur and fibre both of which are essential for a healthy bowel and liver.
You’ll often hear me saying to amp up your greens, and incorporating kale is an easy and cost effective way to do-so. Although it appears to be experiencing resurgence in popularity its benefits have been known for many years. During World War II the cultivation of kale was encouraged due to its nutrient density and the ease with which it grows.
If you’re a keen gardener, kale is a hardy vegetable. It’s resistant to cold, easy to harvest, store and prepare. It’s a wonderful addition to a winter garden. There are many varieties of kale, the most common varieties you see at farmers markets or green grocers are scotch kale or curly kale (with curly ruffled leaves and a fibrous stalk). Cavolo nero, also known as black cabbage or tuscan kale is another variety.
Kale is another member of the highly nutritious brassica family, which includes broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. Brassicas are highly regarded due to their nutrient density.
Research suggests for optimal health our diet should be based on vegetables with smaller proportions of more concentrated foods (lowwater content), such as proteins and carbohydrates, added to this base. As with other brassicas, boiling them reduces the levels of sulforaphane, a chemical known to have potent anti-cancer properties.
Lightly cooking, steaming or sauteing are known to reduce the loss of these nutrients. The more you can incorporate the brassica group of vegetables into your diet the better.
How to use kale
There are many different ways you can use kale. Great in pesto, soups, stir-fries or frittatas, you can also use it in juices and smoothies. It even makes a delicious alternative to potato crisps baked in the oven with coconut oil and a sprinkling of salt. I find it particularly delicious when you massage the leaves with tahini, as this seems to soften its texture and taste. Serve as an addition to a main meal or on top of a salad.
One of the tricky things when including more greens in your diet is finding different ways to do so. Serving nutritious greens in delicious ways means you and your family are more likely to be interested in eating them and experiencing their health benefits on a regular basis.
This warm kale salad is a nice variation of some of the more common ways to eat kale, a very cost-effective option during winter and one of the most nutrient-dense greens available. Spiced up with the addition of chilli and garlic is one of my favourite ways to serve it. If you just can’t get your taste buds around kale’s peppery kick you can use spinach instead.
For more ideas on how to use kale, click here.