The Benefits of Kale

Why We Love Kale

Kale, also known as Tuscan cabbage, is one of the most nutritious leafy greens available at the farmers’ market or grocery store. In recent years, it’s gained popularity because it’s so diverse to use in cooking and it offers an amazing amount of vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, K, C, manganese, potassium, B vitamins, iron, calcium, magnesium and this fibrous leaf also contains omega 3 fatty acids and protein. Kale is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family which offers a long list of health properties such as prevention of bladder, breast, prostate, colon and ovarian cancer. One cup of kale contains about 30 calories and packs almost has as much vitamin C as an orange.

How to Shop for Kale

When you’re shopping for kale, look for smaller bunches that have leaves with a vibrant color and crisp shape. Limp kale with a yellow undertone is not what you want to spend your money on. If the leaves show signs of wilting, it is an indication that the greens have been sitting on the shelf for too long, or they were not properly stored, and in turn they will alter the taste and sometimes they can even present toxins. You can typically now find kale on the shelves all year long, but to get the most out of these leafy greens, buy them in their prime season which runs from December through February. Kale is one of the newest members of Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list, so when available, buy organic.

How to Store Kale

Kale should be kept in the coldest part of your refrigerator in an airtight bag or vegetable crisper container. Typically, the leaves last for up to five days but they tend to increase their bitterness the longer in storage. Don’t wash the kale until you are ready to prepare it. If they are too damp in storage they will spoil faster.  You can also freeze it if you realize you are not going to eat it within five days. If you freeze it, wash it first, remove the leaves from the stems, dry with a paper towel to remove excess moisture, place in an air tight container and freeze until you are ready to enjoy it!

How to Prepare Kale

Kale is popular in many of our juice recipes, but it can also be enjoyed in salads, cooked entrees, smoothies and soups!
Juice: Wash kale well then add through juicer chute at a high speed. You can leave the stems on which will help give you more juice from your kale. A helpful tip is to use harder produce like cucumber and celery to help push the kale through the chute.
Blend: Kale is a power house of nutrients making it an excellent addition to your smoothies. It has a more apparent taste than spinach but can be hidden with a sweet fruit like banana. Remove the leaves from the stems before adding to your blender. You can also use frozen kale. If your blender has trouble pulverizing leafy greens, try blending them on their own with the liquid first for a head start.
Raw: Fresh, raw kale is wonderful in juices, smoothies, and even salads. There are several varieties, so you may prefer a more delicate variety like Dinosaur Kale and use your Curly Kale for roasted chips. Curly Kale, can be rather crunchy, but the trick is in the dressing! After lightly dressing your salad with lemon juice and olive oil, massage the kale leaves with your hands, and then let it sit for at least 5 minutes.  This will allow the crunchy leaves to loosen and be more palatable and enjoyable. 
Cooked: Bake them for a delicious kale chip snack, <a

Cooked, Raw, or Frozen? How to Get the Most out of Kale

Fresh, local kale retains the most vitamins and phytonutrients.  While cooked kale is still very nutritious, cooked kale may lower the amount of antioxidants and zinc, making raw a better option.  Get the most out of your kale by preparing raw kale salads and adding in to your juices and smoothies.

Because kale is high in vitamins A and K, the body can best absorb these fat-soluble vitamins when consumed with a healthy fat. Pair kale with fats like avocado, olive oil, or nuts and seeds to make these fat-soluble carotenoids more readily available.  Additionally, kale’s high amount of iron is best absorbed in the body when paired with an acid like lemon.

For those that have issues with thyroid function: Avoid eating large amounts of raw kale and other cruciferous veggies.  Kale and other cruciferous veggies contain goitrogens, a compound that inhibits the absorption of iodine and can be problematic for those with suppressed thyroid function. However, these compounds appear to be heat-sensitive, therefore cooking may lower their availability.  Instead lightly cook, sauté, or bake kale to help deactivate the goiterogenic compounds, which are fully intact in raw kale salads, juices, or smoothies.  Please note, if you have a normal thyroid function these compounds will have no effect on your thyroid.

Fun Facts

Kale has more vitamin C than an orange (1 cup chopped kale has 134% RDA, while orange has only 113%).

Recipes We Love

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