What is kale good for? Just about everything from athletes' foot to alopecia! I'm being facetious of course, but this very diverse crucifer is particularly healthy.
It should be on the table in every home, regardless of the fact that it has little flavour.
There are many different varieties and researchers have found that there is considerable variation in their content; what they have in common is about 50 different phytochemicals called flavonoids, and in particular one called glucoraphanin that is highly praised for its ability to prevent cancer cells from proliferating; more about that later.
So our recommendation is a blend of these different varieties. We have at least four, and small variants; a broad leafed quite tall plant, the curly leafed kale and another known as the dinosaur.
Looking at these varieties in the garden, you'd think they are quite different vegetables, but they are all kale; good stuff.
So, what is kale good for?
Top of the list is a substance called lutein; in fact it's the richest source of this very important carotenoid. Along with another called zeaxanthin, they are found in very high concentrations in the retina of the eye where they give protection against high frequency light that damages the rods and cones. A deficiency of them is the chief cause of age onset blindness; a condition called macular degeneration.
Two million Americans are blind because of AMD, and many more are partially sighted. What is of great concern is that the prevalence is growing rapidly; from 2000 to 2010 it grew by 18% and by 2050 is expected to affect five million people; all needlessly have lost their vision.
What is kale good for? It'll stop you going blind.
Moreover, researchers have found that those eating just half a cup of kale per week have a lower chance of getting cataracts. It's for this reason alone, that we enjoy kale almost every day.
Lightly steamed is best, but raw kale is also excellent.
What is kale good for is a good question because it's nearly tasteless; so why should we eat it? For this reason most folk shun it, but we've found some ways to dicky it up and making it most palatable.
But even so, just because of its lutein content, I would eat it even if tasted horrid; needlessly going blind is not something that appeals to me!
The second good reason to eat kale, whether you like its lack of taste or not, is its glucoraphanin content; it's complex biochemistry that is only for the boffins, but in case you interested it's converted to a powerful anti cancer compound called sulforaphane. It inhibits a nasty antibiotic resistant bug called Helicobacter pylori that causes stomach ulcers and tumours.
The third good reason to eat kale regularly is that research shows that the fibre binds with bile acids in the colon and thus reduces cholesterol levels in the blood.
Moreover some compound in the juice of the kale further reduces the low density cholesterol whilst raising the friendly HDL. It reduces certain markers associated with cardiovascular disease.
The fourth good reason is that kale is high in fibre and is a natural way of preventing constipation, and all the ills associated with that nasty condition.
In short, what is kale good for? A heap of things, and I'm sure there are many other yet unproven reasons why we should be eating this vegetable several times a week.
For example, it has folate that is so important in preventing inflammation in the body, and birth defects. And is particularly rich in the vitamins A, C and K.
How to cook kale is a question we've faced because to be honest it's a rather dull vegetable; we eat it not because it tastes like a treat but because it's so important in preventing disease and promoting health; research suggests it's best lightly steamed.
Fry a little of any one of the onion family is some butter; toss in a slither of any pepper, we like the jalapeno and pepperdew, and a clove of chopped garlic.
Finely slice the kale, drop it in the pot, add a couple tablespoons of water and steam it with the lid on for a few minutes; don't let it burn.
You could then drop an egg on it and turn into a sort of eggs Florentine, normally reserved for spinach. On a slice of toast it's great for breakfast.
Here are a few more thoughts and recipes for cooking kale.
What's potting in the garden
» What is kale good for?
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