Kale is a powerhouse veggie loaded with vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, antioxidants, and minerals
Kale has anti-inflammatory properties that may help prevent arthritis, heart disease, and autoimmune diseases, plant-based omega-3 fats for building cell membranes, cancer-fighting sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol, and an impressive number of beneficial flavonoids
Kale comes in curly, dinosaur, Russian, and ornamental varieties, each with a slightly different taste and texture
Try Roasted Squash and Kale Salad, Braised Kale, Tuscan Kale with Almonds, Plums and Goat Cheese, or any of the other fresh kale recipes included
By Dr. Mercola
Kale is an unassuming leafy green that many people bypass due to its slightly bitter flavor. But if you learn to use it creatively, kale can be quite tasty, which is only one reason to eat this vegetable. In the realm of superfoods, and certainly of green leafy vegetables, kale is king (or close to it!).
One cup of kale contains just around 30 calories but will provide you with seven times the daily recommended amount of vitamin K, twice the amount of vitamin A and a day's worth of vitamin C, plus much more.
Kale Dubbed the 'New Beef'
Kale has a 3:1 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio – an exceptionally high amount of protein for any vegetable, and one reason why it has recently been acclaimed as the "new beef."
Surprisingly, like meat, kale contains all nine essential amino acids needed to form the proteins within your body: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine – plus, nine other non-essential ones for a total of 18.
Further, the amino acids in kale are easier to extract by your body compared to those in meat. When consuming a steak, for instance, your body has to expend great metabolic resources to break down the massive, highly complex, and intricately folded protein structures within mammalian flesh back down into their constituent amino acids.
Then, later, these extracted amino acids must be reassembled back into the same, highly complex, intricately folded and refolded human proteins from which your body is made. This is a time-consuming, energy-intensive process, with many metabolic waste products released in the process.
Kale, on the other hand, is easier for your body to use, yet can be considered "meaty" and worthy of being considered as a main course in any meal (you can try out the numerous kale recipes below).
If You Want to Flood Your Body with Antioxidants, Vitamins, and Minerals, You'll Want to Eat Kale
Many people have difficulty consuming enough vitamins and minerals, but this becomes simple if you eat kale regularly. Most notably, one cup of kale contains over 10,000 IUs of vitamin A, most of which is delivered the form of natural beta-carotene, as well as significant amounts of vitamin K.
And as far as calcium is concerned, one cup of kale will give you 90 milligrams in a highly bioavailable form. One calcium bioavailability study found that calcium from kale was 25% better absorbed than calcium from milk.1
Kale is also an excellent source of magnesium, and as a cruciferous vegetable has many of the same cancer-fighting properties as broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. And, kale is loaded with both lutein and zeaxanthin at over 26 mg combined, per serving.
Of all the carotenoids, only zeaxanthin and lutein are found in your retina, which has the highest concentration of fatty acids of any tissue in your body. This is because your retina is a highly light- and oxygen-rich environment, and it needs a large supply of free radical scavengers to prevent oxidative damage there.
Your body concentrates zeaxanthin and lutein in your retina to perform this duty, and consuming these antioxidants may help to ward of eye problems like age-related macular degeneration. What else do you gain when you eat kale?
Anti-inflammatory properties that may help prevent arthritis, heart disease, and autoimmune diseases
Plant-based omega-3 fats for building cell membranes, protecting against heart disease and stroke, and regulating blood clotting
Cancer-fighting sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol
An impressive number of beneficial flavonoids, including 32 phenolic compounds and three hydroxycinamic acids to help support healthy cholesterol levels and scavenge free radicals
Curly Kale to Dinosaur Kale: What's the Difference?
There are multiple varieties of kale, which descended from wild cabbage. The oldest variety is curly kale, which has ruffled leaves, a deep-green color and a bitter, pungent flavor. More "recent" varieties are ornamental kale, Russian, and dinosaur kale, the latter of which has blue-green leaves and a more delicate taste than curly kale.2 Ornamental kale, sometimes called salad savoy, was originally used as a decorative garden plant (it comes in green, white, and purple colors), although it can also be eaten and has a mellow flavor and tender texture.
When choosing kale, look for firm, fresh deeply colored leaves with hardy stems. Avoid leaves that are brown or yellow or that contain holes. Kale with smaller leaves tends to be more tender and milder than larger-leaved kale. Choose organic varieties (or grow your own) and store it in your refrigerator (unwashed) in a plastic storage bag (remove as much air as you can). Ideally, eat kale as soon as you can, because the longer it sits the more bitter the flavor becomes.3
9 Tasty Kale Recipes
If you avoid kale because of its bitter taste, you'll be pleasantly surprised by the recipes that follow. Posted by Health.com,4 these recipes feature kale in fresh new ways that will tempt your taste buds and, with this much variety, there's something for everyone.
Make it a goal to make your way through each recipe on this list… and remember to source locally grown organic produce, organic pastured eggs, raw dairy products, and grass-fed meats as much as possible. I also recommend swapping out olive oil for coconut oil in cases where the oil will be heated during cooking.
1. Two-Bean Soup with Kale5
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups organic vegetable broth, divided
7 cups stemmed, chopped kale (about 1 bunch)
2 (15-ounce) cans no-salt-added cannellini beans, rinsed, drained, and divided
1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion, carrot, and celery, and sauté for 6 minutes or until tender. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt and garlic; cook for 1 minute. Stir in 3 cups vegetable broth and kale. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 3 minutes or until kale is crisp-tender.
Place half of cannellini beans and remaining 1 cup vegetable broth in a blender or food processor; process until smooth. Add pureed bean mixture, remaining cannellini beans, black beans, and pepper to soup. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, vinegar, and rosemary.
2. Raw Kale, Grapefruit, and Toasted Hazelnut Salad
2 pink grapefruits
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced, divided
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup fat-free plain yogurt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
8 ounces lacinato kale, very thinly sliced, or baby kale leaves
1 ounce toasted hazelnuts, chopped (1/3 cup)
Peel and segment grapefruit; reserve 3 tablespoons of juice in a large bowl. Mince 2 rings onion. Add to grapefruit juice, with lemon juice, yogurt, oil, salt, and pepper. Whisk until well mixed.
Toss in kale. Top with remaining onion, grapefruit, and hazelnuts.
3. Braised Kale Frittata
6 large organic, pastured eggs
4 large egg whites
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 ounce Gruyère or Parmesan cheese, grated (3 Tbsp.)
2 tablespoons chopped oregano
2 cups Braised Kale without cheese, drained, finely chopped
3/4 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large bowl, whisk the first 6 ingredients (through oregano).
Lightly coat an 8-inch ovenproof cast-iron or nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Heat over medium. Add the kale and tomatoes. Cook, stirring, until hot (about 3 minutes). Add the eggs and swirl to distribute.
Transfer to the oven and bake until set and hot (about 20 minutes). Cut in wedges.
4. Crispy Tamari Kale Chips
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons tamari
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1/2 pound kale, coarse stems removed and leaves torn (about 6 cups)
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 425°.
Combine 2 teaspoons each olive oil, tamari, and sherry vinegar; toss with 1/2 pound kale, coarse stems removed and leaves torn (about 6 cups).
Divide kale mixture among 2 shallow baking pans; bake until crisp and golden (about 15 minutes), stirring occasionally.
Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
5. Roasted Squash and Kale Salad
1 butternut squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 teaspoon pepper
1 pound kale, thinly sliced
1 cucumber, peeled and julienned
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 teaspoons fresh ginger
1 tablespoon water
Preheat oven to 400°.
Peel, seed, and cut butternut squash into 1-inch chunks.
Toss with olive oil, brown sugar, salt, and pepper; bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven; cool.
Toss with kale, cucumber, and red onion.
In a blender, purée low-sodium soy sauce, fresh lime juice, sesame oil, sugar, creamy peanut butter, fresh ginger, and water.
In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft (5-7 minutes). Add barley and 3 3/4 cups water and cook until barley is tender (about 30 minutes). Stir kale and 1/8 teaspoon chili powder into barley until kale is wilted; mix in cheddar.
Meanwhile, in a heavy pot, heat remaining oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, remaining 1 teaspoon chili powder, and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens (about 30 minutes). Turn heat to low; cover.
Preheat broiler with rack in middle position. Slice off stems from peppers to make a wide hole for stuffing; reserve stems. Using a small knife, carefully remove membranes and seeds. Stuff peppers tightly with barley mixture; return stem ends to top of peppers. Place in a large, broiler-proof baking dish; broil until peppers are charred and soft (20 minutes), turning once halfway through. Add tomato sauce to pan around peppers; cover each pepper with 1/2 slice Monterey Jack. Broil until cheese melts (1-2 minutes). Transfer peppers to plates with sauce; top each with 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon queso fresco.
7. Tuscan Kale with Almonds, Plums, and Goat Cheese
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon tamari or low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound Tuscan Kale, Swiss chard or spinach, tough ribs removed and sliced thin (about 8 cups)
1/4 cup sliced seasoned almonds (such as Almond Accents)
2 plums, halved, pitted and cut into wedges
2 ounces crumbled goat cheese
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Whisk together the first 5 ingredients (through olive oil) in a large serving bowl.
Add remaining ingredients to dressing, and toss well to combine.
Divide salad among 4 salad plates, and serve immediately.
1 (19-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup packed roughly chopped fresh kale
1 cup packed baby spinach
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Heat oil in a stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add leeks and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, for 3–4 minutes or until tender but not browned. Add carrots, and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add broth, chicken, and rosemary; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes, skimming occasionally.
Add beans and kale, and simmer for about 5 minutes more. Add spinach, and cook for 2–3 minutes more or until tender. Season with salt and pepper.
Remove rosemary sprig and garlic clove. Ladle soup into 6 warm bowls; sprinkle each with 1/2 teaspoon parsley.
9. Braised Kale
1 large (14-oz) bunch kale
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 garlic cloves, chopped
3/4 cup lower-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 ounce grated Parmesan (optional)
Strip the kale leaves from the tough stems. Discard the stems; coarsely chop the leaves. Rinse well in a colander, leaving the water on the leaves.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until it's golden and aromatic (3-4 minutes). Transfer the garlic to a dish and reserve.
Reheat the oil over medium heat, then add the kale and the broth. Cover and simmer until the kale is tender (3-4 minutes). Season with the salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving platter and top with the garlic and Parmesan, if desired.