Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Veggie Spotlight: Kale

Kale has been on the radar lately, with its high nutritional value and low calorie count - a cup is 36 calories and provides more than 100 percent of the daily value (DV) of vitamins K and A, and 200 percent of the DV for vitamin C - it's easy to see why. Kale is a leafy green vegetable that is part of the Brassica family of cruciferous vegetables which includes broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and brussel sprouts.

There are three types of kale to choose from:
  1. Curly - This the most popular type of kale and many of you have probably seen in the grocery store - is has ruffled edges with a deep green colour and an earthy, peppery flavour.
  2. Lacinato (Dinosaur kale) - This type of kale has narrower, darker leaves that are almost blue-green in color with an embossed texture. The flavour is lighter a sweeter than curly kale so if you are new to kale, this might be the best introduction.
  3. Ornamental - You can spot this plant by its vibrant white, lavender, red, blue, or violet interior leaves. For many years people have been using this type of kale to enhance their gardens and only recently has it been harvested for consumption. It has a mellow flavour and tender texture that is good for coleslaws and salad mixes.
Kale has been touted as a nutritional powerhouse and the claims are not wrong. Kale has been linked with bone health, cardiovascular health, reducing inflammation, cognitive health and reducing the risk for diabetes. It's a source of lutein, which may help to reduce the risk of macular degeneration – a leading cause of vision loss in Canada. Recent studies have also linked kale in reducing the risk of certain types of cancer.

Adding kale into your diet is super easy

There are many ways to prepare kale: steaming, sauteing, greens in a salad, simmered in a winter stew or baked as chips with a bit of sea salt. Recipes abound on the internet and entire cookbooks are dedicated to it.

Choose kale with firm crisp leaves that are not wilting or yellowing at the tips. It should be stored in a plastic bag in the coldest part of your fridge for up to week - beyond that and the leaves go limp and will taste bitter.

Now is a great time to explore a wonderful vegetable that is full of vitamins, health benefits and delicious flavour.

References from the SIRC Collection:

1. Booth S. Vitamin K: food composition and dietary intakes. Food & Nutrition Research. January 2012;56:1-5.
2. Castre L. Let Whole Foods Power You Into the New Year. IDEA Fitness Journal. January 2013;10(1):66-69.
3. KALE. Shape. January 2013;32(5):83.
4. Shea M, Booth S. Update on the role of vitamin K in skeletal health. Nutrition Reviews. October 2008;66(10):549-557.
5. Spotlight on Kale. Running & Fitnews. March 2012;30(2):10-13.
6. Sudicky A. FAB 5 FOODS. Volleyball. May 2012;23(4):20-21.
7. Try Kale for Vitamin K and Cancer Protection. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter. July 2013;31(5):6.

No comments: