LAKE OCONEE — Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables daily can do wonders for your health! For those of you who have not considered eating Kale I encourage you to give this super-nutritious green a try. Kale provides significant health benefits, including cancer protection and lowered cholesterol. In my eyes, kale is the “queen of greens”. It’s not only packed full of nutrients, its low in calorie and a heavy hitter in fiber. It’s a hardy green that can be enjoyed raw, baked as chips or simmered into your favorite soup. It has an earthy flavor and is generally sweeter during its peak season (fall/winter). Unlike other more seasonal vegetables kale can be enjoyed all year round.
So, what makes kale the “Queen of Greens”
- Kale is low in calorie, high in fiber and has zero fat. One cup of kale has only 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber and 0 grams of fat. Fiber helps fill you up, helps lower your cholesterol, and aids in digestive health.
- Kale is high in iron. Believe it or not calorie per calorie, kale has more iron than beef. Iron is essential for good health. It is essential for the formation of hemoglobin which helps transports oxygen to various parts of the body.
- Kale is high in Vitamin K. Eating a diet rich in the powerful antioxidant vitamin K can reduce the overall risk of developing or dying from cancer, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Vitamin K is necessary for a wide variety of bodily functions, including normal blood clotting, antioxidant activity, and bone health. For those of you taking a blood thinner such as Coumadin, consuming too much Vitamin K can interfere with your medication. Consult with your registered dietitian before incorporating kale into your diet.
- Kale is filled with powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants, Carotenoids and flavonoids are the specific types of phytonutrients found in kale, and are associated with many of the anti-cancer health benefits. Kale is also rich in the eye-health promoting lutein and zeaxanthin compounds.
- Kale is a great anti-inflammatory food. One cup of kale provides 10% of the RDI of omega-3 fatty acids, which help, fight against arthritis, asthma and autoimmune disorders.
- Kale is high in Vitamin A, providing 180% of your RDI. Vitamin A is great for your vision, your skin as well as helping to prevent lung and oral cavity cancers.
- Kale is high in Vitamin C. A serving provides 200% of your RDI. Vitamin C is very helpful in keeping your immune system healthy, and also helps maintain cartilage and joint flexibility
- Kale is high in calcium. Calorie per calorie, kale has more calcium than milk. Calcium aids in preventing bone loss, preventing osteoporosis and maintaining a healthy metabolism.
To find the freshest kale, look for firm, crisp, deeply colored leaves with hardy, thinner stems. Smaller leaves will be more tender and milder in flavor. Leaves range from dark green to purple to deep red in color. Store kale unwashed, in an airtight zipped plastic bag for up to five days in the refrigerator.
Kale and White Bean Soup
(Recipe provided by: Susan W.)
1-tablespoon olive oil
8 large garlic cloves, crushed or minced
1 small onion, chopped
8 cups chopped raw kale
4 cups low/no sodium chicken or vegetable broth
2 15 oz. cans white beans (cannellini, navy or great northern)
1 can low sodium diced tomatoes
2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
Parmesan cheese (optional)
In a large pot, heat olive oil; add garlic and onion, sauté until soft. Add kale and sauté, stirring, until wilted. Add broth, beans, tomatoes, herbs, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer 20-30 minutes. If too thick add more broth. Ladle into bowls; sprinkle with chopped parsley and freshly grated parmesan cheese.
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Lisa Eisele, RD, CSO, LD, can be reached at (706) 473-5801.