Kale is a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables and if the cost was based on the nutrition and health promoting value, it would be more expensive than lobster; fortunately it is dirt cheap.
Although the other members of the family (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage etc) get more notoriety, don't underestimate this gem, whose nutritional profile is unrivalled among green leafy vegetables.
To think that this healing and nutritional powerhouse has been relegated to almost obscurity at least in the UK after being encouraged for backyard cultivation during World War II to help address the food shortage, mainly through the "Dig for Victory" campaign that likely saved many from sickness and starvation.
Over 50 years on and kale still doesn't have the recognition it deserves, so let's try and change that.
Kale and amino acids
Similar to meat, kale contains all 9 essential amino acids needed to form the proteins within the human body: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine plus 9 other non-essential ones for a total of 18.
Not only that, the amino acids are more bioavailable than those of meat.
Kale, the king of carotenoids
Now to the vitamins. Kale is a king of carotenoids. Its vitamin A activity is astounding. One cup contains over 10,000 IU's, or the equivalent of over 200% the daily value. Also, consider that most of this vitamin A (retinol) is delivered in the form of beta-carotene, which in its natural form is the perfect delivery system for retinol (two retinol molecules attached to one another), as it is exceedingly difficult to get too much. If you compare it to the synthetic vitamin A used in many mass market foods and vitamins, it is safer and more bioavailable.
Kale for eye health
Kale boasts 26g of lutein and zeaxanthin per serving, the consumption of these two nutrients helps prevent macular degeneration and other retinal diseases associated with ultra violet, light induced oxidative stress.
Kale, the new cow
Hold on, it gets better; Kale generally has the ability to provide an excellent source of minerals, in what is known as food state. Unlike inorganic minerals, e.g. limestone, bone meal, oyster shell, the calcium in kale is vibrating with life sustaining energy and intelligence. At 90mg per cup, this highly bioavailable calcium actually contains more calcium per gram than whole milk! Also, the calcium from Kale is 25% better absorbed, proving that the marketing in support of milk as the ultimate source of calcium isn't as compelling as commonly believed.
In fact cow's milk is not that good for you from both a health or weight loss standpoint, but that's for another day. Suffice to say for the moment, milk actually results in calcium loss from bones and teeth.
Kale is also an excellent source of magnesium, which is why it is green. That deep, dark chlorophyll within its leaves contains appreciable amounts of magnesium, and considering how many of us are dying from excess calcium, adding additional sources of magnesium, which acts to balance out calcium, can have live saving health benefits.
Finally, kale is more than just a nutritional "superfood." It comes from a long line of plant healers and if the drug approval agencies get their act together, they could approve this as a viable medicine. Newly emerging literature now shows it may be of value in the treatment of cancer, elevated blood lipids, glaucoma, and various forms of chemical poisoning.
Also, kale, like most cruciferous vegetables, is exceedingly high in several other extensively researched anticancer compounds, such as sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol. The data set on these are even more impressive than on kale, with over 140 disease conditions potentially eradicated by sulforaphane alone.
I find Kale slightly bitter on its own and therefore use it for green juice, which preserves all the nutrients, since it is fresh and not cooked with heat. This juice is packed with cancer and other disease fighting antioxidants, enzymes, vitamins, minerals and other chemo preventative compounds.
My blog has a great recipe, taken from my eBook, The Fat Loss Puzzle