Introducing … Kale!
This unassuming veggie has made quite the impression in the world of wellness in recent years. Rising from a relatively unfamiliar vegetable to a well-known superstar of green foods, kale is a versatile and very healthy addition to your daily intake of foods.
With a multitude of varieties and properties, it is now a go-to for health enthusiasts and those just seeking to better their diet. How does a vegetable reach stardom status though, and what qualifies it as a green solution to our overall health?
Is it a Good Source of Fiber?
Yes! As with most leafy greens, it contains a high amount of fiber that aids your body in digestion and keeps things moving in the right direction – quite literally.
The leafy green, cruciferous vegetable family that kale belongs to lends itself to a reputation for sweeping the digestive tract. We have foods that build up in our intestines and over time, become stagnant. If you are not consuming enough fiber, your digestive tract becomes lined with excess waste, causing build-up and sometimes even discomfort or constipation.
To eradicate these problems and to maintain a healthy digestive system, experts recommend ingesting regular amounts of fiber daily. Renowned wellness activist and best-selling author, Kris Carr, emphasizes that, “consuming dietary fiber is associated with a strong immune system, a healthy balance of gut bacteria, reduced cholesterol, and a reduced risk of heart disease…Perhaps most important, we can’t keep our elimination moving without [fiber].”
She plugs the vegetable in her many smoothies and juices (see recipes below) as ways to easily get your daily serving of fiber.
As with many leafy greens, it can have a very green and plant-like taste in its raw leafy form, so Kris recommends making a hearty kale salad, chopping it up into small pieces and mixing it with your favorite sweet or tangy salad ingredients.
As Kris mentions, our body does not actually digest fiber, so consuming it aids in the process of cleansing our gut. If this super food is eaten regularly, gone are the days of having to purchase powdery fiber substitutes to stay regular. More and more people are turning to kale to flush out toxins and other waste from the body – a more natural approach to healthy digestion and increasing fiber intake.
How about Vitamins?
Kale is a highly nutritious food, with a power punch of highly concentrated vitamins and phytonutrients (potent nutrients that come only from plants) that do wonders for our body and overall health.
It is an amazing vegetable, in all its forms, from its early state as a microgreen, as a mature raw leafy green, or by cooking kale, as in kale chips. When consumed as a microgreen, the concentration of vitamins increases exponentially, making it a superstar food.
To emphasize, Sayer Ji is the founder of GreenMedInfo.com, a self-made health leader and reliable resource when it comes to healing the body holistically.
In his best-selling book, Regenerate, Sayer discusses the highly powerful properties of kale, as a sulforaphane-rich (cruciferous) food, both in its whole form, and also in its infancy as a microgreen: “These veggies, [including] kale, but especially their sprouts, contain a sulfur-containing biomolecule that has over 100 evidence-based health benefits.
They are most useful for the health of the liver (enhancing detoxification of fat-soluble toxicants, preventing cancer, and regenerating neural stem cells.” Many proclaimed experts in the field would agree that this veggie is one of the most recommended sources of greens in one’s diet.
The sheer amount of nutrition in one serving further demonstrates its rise to fame.
Are There Different Types and Where do I Get It?
Many types of kale are out there, from dinosaur, lacinato, and curly to Tuscan and more. They vary slightly in appearance, but each type reaps the benefits discussed here.
Growing kale is not difficult and is in fact a hardy garden vegetable, but for many growing vegetables is not a possibility.
Kale’s popularity lends itself to wide distribution in most grocery stores, but consuming it freshly harvested will give you the most nutritional value. Therefore, it is important to connect with local growers to receive the freshest, highest quality fully grown vegetables or microgreens available.
How good is Kale, Really?
Kale has been criticized as being overly promoted, not as great tasting as it is made out to be, or even a cause of discomfort.
First, as with anything that gains quick popularity, the hype around kale has drawn attention to it by those unfamiliar with its healthful properties. This can easily be resolved with a little bit of research.
Secondly, kale is a plant, and as such, has a green taste some refer to as too strong. Sweeten it up by adding fruits in the form of kale smoothies, or combine with stronger tasting ingredients such as ginger or turmeric, or even some chili flakes in a kale salad.
You can also cook kale the same way you would spinach.
Finally, along with any fibrous food, too much can cause your body to rapidly rid itself of excess waste, causing uncomfortable and frequent bowel movements. If you are not accustomed to consuming greens regularly, it is good to ease into it with a small serving per day, increasing slowly to enjoy more at a time.
Truthfully, if just one person chooses to replace their daily mochas with kale smoothies, they will see benefits that defeat any bad publicity it may receive by those who just don’t enjoy it.
If you do try it and find it does not satisfy you as you had anticipated, be sure to experiment with different forms (eating it raw , cooking kale, baking, kale salad, and smoothies, etc.) and trust the process – the process that is happening inside your body that will bring you not just a full stomach but a clean gut and glowing skin as well.
Drawing Conclusions -- Is Kale a Green Solution and a Veggie Superstar?
By now, your answer should be an easy YES.
Let’s say you need to eat more greens, to increase your fiber intake, and to start the day with a healthy meal. By educating yourself about this celebrity of the green world, you can achieve all three goals at once!
Begin your days with green smoothies, integrate a kale salad or kale chips into your lunch or dinner as a side or main course, and you will find your fiber intake naturally increases as a result. You will have no trouble finding this vegetable at the grocery store, farmer’s market, or local grower (such as Etum Organics), and you will soon see why this unassuming veggie is a popular choice.
Preparation and Recipes
One deterrent to consuming more veggies is the preparation. We can easily buy kale, but what happens next? Let’s not overthink here, as there are several easy and quick ways to get it ready to eat. Simply grab your veggies, a few other simple ingredients, blend, chop, or sauté and enjoy!
Kale Smoothie Recipe (from Crazy Sexy Juice, By Kris Carr)
1 large banana, frozen
2 cup mango cubes, frozen
2 cups coconut water
¼ Hass avocado
¼ cup curly parsley, stems and leaves, tightly packed
1 cup kale leaves only, tightly packed
- Wash and prep all ingredients
- Blend and serve
Cooked Kale Recipe (From Goop Clean Beauty, By The Editors of Goop)
“Sauteed Cavolo Nero”
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Pinch red chili flakes
1 bunch cavolo nero (also called dinosaur kale), washed, dried, and chopped into 1-inch pieces
- Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and red chili flakes and cook for 30 seconds, until the garlic is fragrant but not browned.
- Add the kale and a large pinch of salt. Use a wooden spoon to stir, mixing everything well so that the garlic doesn’t stick to the pan and burn. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, until the kale is starting to wilt and the garlic is lightly toasted.
- Cover with a lid, turn the heat down to low, and cook for 5 minutes, until the kale is tender.