The Superpowered Veg: Kale

Some people love it, some people hate it, but there is no denying the fact that kale is the Wonder Woman (she’s a woman and she’s awesome, so yeah it works!) of veggies! I will be completely honest here: I used to absolutely despise kale.  I remember the first time I ate it because I thought it was SO vile; my brother and I bought it when I lived in New Orleans, and he was loving it, so I was super stoked to try it, and it was NOT a match.  I barely swallowed it down without gagging.  My issue is that I am a tactile eater, so if things feel weird in my mouth, I don’t like them, and the texture is much more intense than one would expect (as a kale virgin) and the flavor is über bitter.  But, with some help of my 3-year-old nephew this summer, I learned to love it…I just needed something other than raw kale and lemon juice to make it work.  He introduced me to the world of oven roasted kale (AKA Kale chips):  I think we devoured more kale than I ever thought would fit in our two bodies!

Why is Kale so awesome?             

– One cup of kale has only 36 calories and 5 grams of fiber 1020% of the daily requirement  of Vitamin K, 40% magnesium, 200% Vitamin C, 180% Vitamin A, and 15% of calcium and vitamin B6.  That is truly a powerhouse veggie- all that in ONE CUP?!?!

– It is full of antioxidants which help to prevent free radicals and are thought to prevent cancer. Vitamin A, C, and K are all antioxidants, along with carotenoids and flavonoids.

– The high levels of fiber, can help to decrease circulating cholesterol by binding to the free fats/cholesterols and helping to excrete them from the body before they can be absorbed in the blood and create plaques in the arteries.  Decreasing cholesterol, decreases you risk of heart disease!  (If you steam kale, it is more effective in lowering your cholesterol levels by stimulating a higher bile production by the digestive tract to decrease the circulating cholesterol)

– It is a green leafy veggie that thrives in cooler weather, so we can enjoy all winter long! And there are very few things to look forward to, as far as healthy eating goes during cold, winter months!

– It is a low carbohydrate food, so perfect for those of you looking to eat a lower carb diet.

– There is some research to specifically link the antioxidants present in kale to decrease you cancer risk for 5 different types of cancer: breast, ovarian, colon, bladder, and prostate.

How to prepare kale:

Add it in to any recipe instead of lettuce or half lettuce/half kale to ease it into your diet.  You can chop it up and add it to stir-fry, stews, soups, and really any other food that you want.  If you want to make a full on kale salad, most people just rinse and chop raw kale and add lemon juice to cut the bitterness.  That kale salad set me off on the wrong foot with this Wonder Woman veg…but kale chips couldn’t be easier (especially if someone makes them for you!): Cut kale into bite sized pieces, drizzle with some Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), a pinch of sea salt, and roast at 350 degrees in the oven for 10-15 minutes.  Yumbos!

Is there any downside to this magnificent veg?

I urge caution to anyone who is taking the blood thinner Coumadin (AKA Warfarin). You are totally able to eat kale and other green leafy veggies (cruciferous veg) which tend to have higher vitamin K levels, but be careful if you are all of a sudden increasing your intake because Vitamin K is actually the antidote for Coumadin, it increases your clotting factors and helps your blood clot, offsetting the medication which is a blood thinner.  So don’t stay away from these healthy, yummy foods, just be careful, and make sure to communicate with your Health Care Practitioner (HCP) if you eat a diet high in Vitamin K, you make require higher doses of the blood thinning medication, or they might choose an alternate treatment based on your eating habits!

Give kale a try, and your body will thank you! If the first way you try it doesn’t work, remember that you can add it in to almost anything, and there are tons of different ways to prepare….kale is certainly no one trick pony! And remember, if you are on any blood thinning medications, especially Coumadin, talk to your HCP before adding high amounts of Vitamin K into your diet.

Yours in Good Health