Kale strong points:
- Excellent source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, manganese, copper and Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine).
- Very good source of tryptophan, calcium, potassium, Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), Vitamin E, magnesium, iron and Vitamin B1 (thiamin).
- Good source of phosphorus, protein, Vitamin B3 (niacin), folate and zinc.
- A one cup serving of kale contains only 36 calories.
- One cup of Kale provides 240.5% of the daily value for Vitamin A
The History of Kale
Bible or from Egyptian hieroglyphs, kale is one of the oldest cultivated and most venerable forms of vegetables. Like broccoli, cauliflower and collards, kale is a descendant of the wild cabbage. It originated as a food crop in the Eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor over 4,000 years ago. Theophrastus described a form of Kale in 350 BC and travelers then introduced the hearty vegetable down through the ages to many other parts of the world.
Kale was a significant crop during ancient Roman times and was very popular among peasants during the Middle Ages. It was finally brought to North America by European settlers in the 17th Century.
Dinosaur kale was discovered in Italy during the late 19th Century. It features dark blue-green leaves with leaves that have an embossed texture. It is slightly sweeter and has a more delicate taste than curly kale.
Curly kale has ruffled leaves and is usually deep green in color. It flavor is a bit pungent with bitter peppery qualities.
Decorative Kale, originally used as a decorative garden plant, was first cultivated commercially in the 1980's in California. Although used in the United States primarily as a decoration in salad bars, more and more people are becoming aware of it's rich nutrient values and great taste. Ornamental kale is now becoming better known by the name salad savoy.
The Benefits of Kale
Nutritionally rated, kale is near the top amongst vegetables.
As a member of the Brassica genus of foods, kale stands out as an anti-cancer food. It is high is sulforaphane, which stimulates the body to produce cancer-fighting enzymes. Glucosinolates, (sulphur compounds) which are found in large amounts in cruciferous vegetables such as kale, are broken down into further compounds named isothiocyanates and indoles when the vegetable is cut or chewed.
Researchers have proven that the ability of kale's Glucosinolates and cysteine sulfoxides activates the detoxification of enzymes in the liver which help neutralize potentially carcinogenic substances. These detoxifying enzymes include quinine reductases and glutathione-S-tranferases. Have shown the protective effect of these two nutrients against the risk of cataracts.
Kale is also an excellent source of Vitamin C. Vitamin C prevents the free radical damage which triggers the inflammatory cascade, and is therefore associated with reduced severity of inflammatory conditions such as asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Vitamin C also prevents the free radical damage which can oxidize cholesterol. Once oxidized, cholesterol begins sticking to artery walls, building up plaque that may eventually grow large enough to impede blood flow, or rupture to cause a heart attack or stroke. With Vitamin C's ability to neutralize free radicals, it can help prevent this oxidation of cholesterol. Vitamin C is also crucial for the proper function of a healthy immune system. Thus, it has been shown to improve cold symptoms and may be helpful in preventing recurring ear infections.
Kale is also well known for it's presence of carotenoids, especially lutein and zeaxanthin. These two substances act as a filter and help to protect the eye from overexposure to ultraviolet light.