Kale is a common leafy green vegetable that is known for offering a great deal of nutrients. It is a member of the cabbage family that is known for its frilly leaves. There are several varieties of kale that range in color from a light green to a deep purple. Common varieties of kale include Tuscan, dinosaur and curly-leafed. Most recipes call for this ingredient to be cooked, but it can also be eaten raw in salads and other preparations.
Nutrition Facts of Raw Kale
A cup of kale only contains 36 calories but also includes 5g of fiber, 40 percent of your daily requirement of magnesium, 180 percent your necessary vitamin A, 15 percent of the daily requirement for vitamin B6 and calcium, 1020 percent of your necessary vitamin K and 200 percent of your necessary vitamin C. Kale also contains plenty of copper, manganese, iron, potassium and phosphorus. The health benefits of kale are largely centered on the fact that it is high in vitamins K, C and A which are sulfur-containing phytonutrients.
The flavonoids and carotenoids in kale include many antioxidants that are noted for their anti-cancer properties. The lutein and zeaxanthin compounds in kale also help to promote eye health. The high fiber content helps to bine bile acid to lower blood cholesterol to lower the risk of heart disease.
Raw Kale Benefits
1. Skin Perfection
The vitamin A in kale will give the skin an attractive orange-reddish hue. Studies have found that people prefer those with this coloring over others. The high amount of vitamin C in kale can help to protect the skin from UV rays while acting as an antioxidant that will help eliminate free radicals from the body. This helps to limit signs of aging in the skin.
2. Healthy Eyesight
The large amounts of vitamin A in kale helps to promote eye health that can prevent poor eyesight that commonly accompanies the aging process. Vitamin A helps the body produce rhodopsin in the retina to help prevent macular degeneration.
3. Immune Boosting
Vitamins A and C in kale are essential to maintaining the immune system so it is easier for the body to fight off bacteria and viruses that can cause illness.
4. Strong Bones
Kale is very high in calcium and vitamin K. Calcium is used to build bone tissue while vitamin K helps to deposit the calcium into the bones rather than soft tissues to promote higher levels of bone health.
5. Cholesterol Control
The high fiber content in kale can help to rid the body of LDL or "bad" cholesterol in the bloodstream.
6. Anti-aging Property
Kale has anti-inflammatory properties that will increase the body's ability to avoid the "wear and tear" associated with aging. Kale is also very high in antioxidants, helping the body to remove free radicals that can damage tissues such as the skin.
7. Cancer Prevention
The flavonoids, antioxidants and carotenoids in kale boost the immune system while providing anti-inflammatory properties. This unique combination is particularly helpful in fighting off certain types of cancer including breast cancer.
8. Body Detoxification
The glucosinolates in kale can be broken down into isothiocyanates that act as a detoxifying agent in the cells. Kale is also rich in sulfur that can help to detoxify the body. Those with learning disorders such as ADHD or those who struggle with losing weight find that consuming kale can help them better manage their symptoms.
9. Healthy Skin, Hair and Nails
Kale has a good ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. The omega-3s in kale can help to increase the flexibility of cell membranes while providing anti-inflammatory properties. This will help keep the skin, hair and nails nourished.
10. Blood Sugar Control
Kale contains high amounts of manganese that is used to maintain the metabolism and regulate blood sugar in the body. This can help you lose weight more easily, keep your energy levels high and avoid inflammation.
Raw Kale Selection and Storage
Bunches of kale in the supermarket should contain robust, bright leaves rather than those that have wilted or yellowed. Kale can be stored in a refrigerator or cold location for 2-3 days. Different types of kale leaves will have a different flavor and texture. In general, curly kale leaves have a tougher texture with a more intense flavor than those with flat leaves. Experimenting with different varieties can help you find types of kale you prefer to eat.
Raw Kale Recipes
1. Raw Kale Salad with Tahini Dressing
- Servings: 2-4
- Ingredients: 3-4 cups kale, finely chopped, a 1/4 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts, 1/4 cup craisins to taste, 1/2-1 cup chopped apple, 1/4-1/2 grated carrot, 1/2 cup edamame beans, 1/4 cup mixed sprouts, 1/2 cup finely chopped celery.
- 1/2-3/4 teaspoon sea salt, a teaspoon honey to taste, 1/4 cup lemon juice.
- Directions: Place the vegetables, sprouts and nuts in a bowl, mix in edamame beans or garbanzo beans if desired. In a food processor mix the water, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, honey and salt, blending until the mixture is smooth. This should make around one cup of dressing. Add as much dressing as you desire to your portion of salad and enjoy.
2. Quick Mix Kale Salad
- Servings: 3-4
- Ingredients: 10 stalks julienned kale, 1 chopped avocado, 1 chopped to tomato, 1 diced, peeled cucumber, ½ finely diced or sliced red bell pepper, ½ cup chopped radicchio if desired. Dressing: 1 ½ teaspoons agave nectar, the juice of one lemon, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 garlic cloves, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon hemp seed oil, ¼ teaspoon lemon pepper.
- Directions: Toss all salad ingredients together in a bowl. In a blender or food processor combine all dressing ingredients and blend until smooth. Allow the dressing to stand at room temperature for 20 minutes to allow the flavors develop. Add dressing and fresh herbs to the salad as desired and enjoy.