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Kale and It's Relatives

Kale has one of the highest levels of antioxidants of any vegetable. Kale has a very high ORAC score. It's also got one of the highest levels of total carotenes. It's especially high in lutein and zeaxanthin, which prevent macular degenration (vision loss in old age).

As a member of the cabage family, it's loaded with anti-cancer phytochemicals. As if that wasn't enough, there's plenty of chlorophyll, mancanese,calcium, b-vitamins, fiber, etc.

Kale is at the top of the charts nutritionally. Use kale instead of lettuce in your salads, and feel the power!

Broccoli is Good, Kale is Even Better

Brocolli has a well-deserved reputation as a healthy food. Broccoli has a high ORAC score. The researchers who found out how chock-full of anti-oxidants kale is, thought kale might be too unfamiliar. They decided it would be better to promote broccoli, which people already know. Broccoli is good, kale is even better.

All the cruciferous vegetables have similar benefits, so enjoy a variety of them. The brassica family includes: arugula, bok choy, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, mizuna, mustard greens, radish, rapini, turnips and watercress. Generally, the vegetables with the most color have the most nutrients and phytochemicals. So dark green broccoli is probably a better choice than white cauliflower.

When buying broccoli or cauliflower, don't throw away the leaves. Notice how they resemble kale and collards. Eat the leaves.

Kale Research

Buying Kale

Unfortunately, the nutritional research doesn't say which varieties of kale are the most beneficial. But we can make an educated guess. The darkest green vegetables have the highest levels of carotenoids and chlorophylls. Carotenoids are red, orange and yellow but the green chlorophyll hides them.

So the darkest green kales should be the best. By far the most intense green kale is Lacinato Kale, aka Dinosaur Kale. Next darkest is Red Russian Kale; actually purplish around the edges, not red. This might show the presence of anthocyanins, antioxidant pigments, as in purple cabbage.

Using Kale

Kale leaves have thick fibrous stems. They stems are edible, so leave them in if you enjoy crunchy foods. Or you can take them out, if you are not used to eating lots of fiber, or if you want to make a more delicate dish. To strip out the stems, grasp a kale leaf with one hand by the stem. Wrap your other hand firmly around the lower end of the leafy part. Slide your hand up the leaf, staying close to the stem, to strip off the leafy part. Drop the leaf onto the cutting board, and do another one. If you are making a blended soup or green smoothie, leave the stems in.

To chop kale, lay a bunch of kale on the cutting board and cut crosswise into strips. Turn the cutting board 90°, and cut again if you want smaller pieces. Or cut kale leaves crosswise with a kitchen scissors. Or just tear into pieces with your hands.

Kale recipes are on the Salads and Soups pages.

Kale Culture


VegPeace.org © Jordan Rothstein <jordan at vegpeace.org>