Why Kale Is a Super-Healing Food

Super-Healing Foods: Page 11

By , Caring.com contributing editor
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Dino Kale

Kale is highly nutritious, has powerful antioxidant properties, and is anti-inflammatory. One cup of cooked kale contains an astounding 1,328 percent of the RDA for vitamin K, 192 percent of the RDA for vitamin A, and 89 percent of the RDA for vitamin C. It's also a good source of calcium and iron.

Kale is in the same plant family as broccoli and cabbage, and, like its cruciferous cousins, it contains high levels of the cancer-fighting compound sulforaphane, which guards against prostate, gastric, skin, and breast cancers by boosting the body's detoxification enzymes and fighting free radicals in the body. The indoles in kale have been shown to protect against breast, cervical, and colon cancers. The vitamin K in kale promotes blood clotting, protects the heart, and helps build strong bones by anchoring calcium to the bone. It also has more antioxidant power than spinach, protecting against free-radical damage. Kale is extra rich in beta-carotene (containing seven times as much as does broccoli), lutein, and zeaxanthin (ten times the amount in broccoli). In Chinese medicine, kale is used to help ease lung congestion.

How much: Like cabbage, the more kale you can eat, the better. A daily serving is ideal. Eat it as much as you can, as long as you can find it fresh at your local grocery or farmer's market. In some areas, it's available all year; in others, it only makes an appearance during summer and fall.

Tips:

  • Kale's growing season extends nearly year-round; the only time it's out of season is summer, when plenty of other leafy greens are abundant.

  • Steam or saute kale on its own, or add it to soups and stews. Cooking helps tenderize the leaves.

  • Kale is also a great addition when it's blended in fruit smoothies or juiced with other vegetables.