Kale 101

kale-basketAccording to this comprehensive profile by the USDA, the American diet has drastically changed over the last 30 years. Here are the sad and shocking facts from the National Center for Health Statistics. They say an astounding 62 percent of adult Americans were overweight in 2000, up from 46 percent in 1980, and that figure is on the rise every year.

In 1999, consumption of sugar reached an all time high. Americans increased their annual intake by 43 pounds (or 39 percent) from the 1950’s to year 2000 while vegetable consumption only went up 12 percent. On average, Americans consume around 152 pounds of sugar every year (including table sugar and HFCS), and that number has stayed fairly steady in recent years.

Not only America is facing a diabetes crisis: type 2 diabetes is raging out of control around the world. It is the fastest-spreading medical condition of our time.

Currently, it affects more than 10% of the world’s population — and by the end of this decade (just seven short years from now), it will affect one-in-three people. One third of American adults are clinically obese, and 1 in 10 adults suffers from depression.

Why Kale Can Make a Difference

Eating more superfoods in healthy recipes can turn these numbers around. Kale is a nutrition powerhouse, and very well could be the most dynamic healing food out there.

Just one cup of raw kale…

  • contains just 33 calories
  • provides 134% of your daily vitamin C needs
  • provides 684% of your daily vitamin K needs
  • provides 204% of vitamin A
  • is an excellent source of calcium and iron

Kale and Cancer

Apart from kale’s stunning vitamin and mineral content, kale contains healing compounds in the pigments and cell structures of its leaves — over 45 different flavonoids, compounds that could potentially prevent cancer. Moreover, it carries anti-inflammatory nutrients and glucosinolates (a sulfur compound that gives greens their bitter taste) — all of which have suppressed cancer in animal trials.

“Kale’s risk-lowering benefits for cancer have recently been extended to at least five different types of cancer”, says nutritionist George Mateljan. These types include cancer of the bladder, breast, colon, ovary, and prostate. Glucosinolates in kale play a very big role in prevention according to the research while other vital compounds in kale have equally exciting health benefits.

Kale and Diabetes

Do you know someone who has been diagnosed with Type 2, or who is on the verge? Dealing with diabetes is a balancing act when it comes to blood sugar. Eating plenty of leafy greens can be key to balancing blood sugar because kale is high in fiber that helps slow the rise of blood sugar and it also contains protein, which helps anchor blood sugar.

One cup of kale (only 33 calories) contains 1 grams of fiber and nearly 3 grams of protein, which also makes it great for weight management.

Kale and Obesity

Some experts feel that obesity isn’t just a weight issue, it’s also a disease of inflammation. Due to high levels of sulfur compounds in kale (like glucosinolates), kale is one of the top detoxifying foods available. Kale is also high in an antioxidant all-star, anthocyanins, that may stop fat cells from expanding. In one study “anthocyanin-treated mice showed a 24% decrease in weight gain” compared to those not given a dose.

Apart from this compelling science, kale is incredibly low in calories, contains no trans-fat, is low in sugar (in the form of vegetable carbohydrates), practically fat-free and quite filling due to naturally occurring fiber and protein.

Healthiest Ways to Enjoy Kale

When choosing kale, go organic if you can! Kale is one of the items on the “dirty dozen list” (a list of foods with the most pesticides) as published by the Environmental Working Group. Since kale is hardy, inexpensive, and easy to grow organically, organic kale is close in price to conventional kale.

Cooking kale does not damage the nutrients as long as cooking is brief — 10-15 minutes at high heat, or 35 minutes at lower heat when baking. Kale is also nutritious raw, ideal for summer salads, juicing, smoothies, and cold blended soups.

Hungry for more health info on kale? Check out the magic molecules in kale responsible for boosting your body’s natural detoxification system. Or pick up a cookbook on kale and learn about its tasty versatility.

“Kale Does A Body Good!”

Kale Varieties

Facts & Trivia

  • Kale might become the new state vegetable of Vermont.
  • According to Green Heritage News, “Angelina Jolie, Woody Harrelson, and Gwyneth Paltrow are just a few stars on the silver screen who eat kale to not only feel better, but to maintain the sleek physiques they require for days on the set. Celebrities Katy Perry and Jessica Alba also claim a love for the leafy green vegetable.”
  • There are over 50 varieties of kale, and there happens to be 50 Shades of Kale as well.
  • There is an extremely tall variety of kale called “Jersey kale” or “cow cabbage.”
  • America plants more acres in Kale than Brussels Sprouts.
  • Kale might have saved people from starving in the UK during World War II because it’s easy to grow and hearty.
  • Lacinato Kale is known by many, many aliases including Cavolo nero (which means black cabbage in Italian), Tuscan Cabbage, Tuscan Kale, and dinosaur or dino kale.
  • A kale plant continues to produce late into winter.
  • After a frost, kale becomes sweeter.
  • Ecocentric says that Thomas Jefferson was onto the kale craze way before us, he experimented with several varieties of kale at his garden in early 1800s.
  • Kale is an amazing source of carotenoids, which are linked to one’s level of optimism.
  • Kale is grown around the world.
  • In Kenya, sautéed kale is called sukuma wiki and a staple of the diet.
  • Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish of kale and mashed potatoes.
  • Kale has been in cultivation for over 6000 years.

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