Kale has been around for centuries, and quite common in European countries too. But in true American fashion, it wasn’t “all that” until endorsed by the American public.
So now it’s the equivalent of the “sexiest food” alive, with books like “50 shades of kale” creating recipes for everything, from chocolate chip kale cookies, to kale doughnuts and yep, kale noodles (not cooked noodles with a side of Kale, green looking noodles made FROM kale).
Is the public taking this whole kale obsession a tad bit too far though? And are there damages inflicted from the different cooking methods, on the nutritional benefits of Kale?
In this article, you’ll be seeing why kale is considered a superfood, and why everyone’s open to experimenting with new recipes that they would have considered otherwise damaging to other vegetables.
It’s a Powerhouse
While most experts frown at the term “superfood” because they believe it’s simply a marketing terminology used in making ordinary foods seem way cooler than they actually are, they do acknowledge that some foods provide more nutrients (which help reduce your risk of chronic diseases) per bite (nutrient density) than many other foods – hence powerhouse.
Kale falls into this group of foods with superhero-like powers. So that just one cup of Kale can ensure you reach, or even exceed, the daily recommended dietary allowance (of some nutrients at least).
It’s this ability to fulfill your dietary obligations without stuffing yourself full of calories that have made kale quite popular amongst the “I’m on a diet” plus the “I eat junk, but with a side of kale” communities.
Great Source Of Iron
While this is primarily good news if you’re vegan (as every other person gets iron from meat), even non-vegans, especially women, can benefit from regularly eating kale. If the public health concern for anemia reveals anything, it’s that most people tend to fall short of the RDA for iron. In women, that’s about 18 mg (8mg for men). So as we get older, our risks of becoming anemic keep increasing. In fact, cooked kale is thought to contain more iron per ounce than cooked beef. This means by combining both beef and kale in your diet, you will significantly increase your RDA fulfillment.
Cancer Fighting Properties
Ok, anytime a food claims to help fight cancer, everyone does a double take. But here’s what kale purports to actually do. When certain animal products, like meat, are cooked at very high temperatures, they release a carcinogenic chemical known as heterocyclic amines. Kale, and some other greenies contain chlorophyll, a plant pigment which prevents the body from absorbing this heterocyclic amines. So it isn’t saying it will cure any type of cancer, but that it will take preventive measures against a certain carcinogenic chemical, which is quite good if you think about the amount of meat you consume.
It’s also high in antioxidants like carotenoids and vitamin C, which have been linked with fighting free radicals (molecules that encourage heart attacks and cancer).
Helps In Digestion
While this is true of most vegetables (they contain lots of water), kale stands out because a single cup, unlike others, can provide up to 20% of your fibre RDA (5 grams of fibre out of the 25 RDA). It’s this fibre that’s responsible for the health of your digestive tract or keeps you from being constipated.
Can Be Cooked Using Different Methods
This has always been true for most vegetables. Although light steaming and low heat boiling has always been encouraged to preserve the nutrients in vegetables, there have always been various means of preparing vegetables. You can’t deny that the “kale kraze” has made people delve deeper into more cooking techniques that will enable kale to infiltrate every aspect of their diets. Kale chips made their debut simply because they seemed like a healthier alternative to potato chips, so helped assuage some “junk eating” guilt (of course the salt and added fat content might negate the positive benefits of Kale here).
The cooking principle unearthed is this, cooking vegetables in water can cause valuable nutrients to leach into the water, if you toss the water away, you’ve tossed the good nutrients away. But other cooking methods like baking or microwaving only cause water loss with very minimal degradation on the nutrient quality (depending on the temperature and cooking duration). Hence people with junk addictions can now claim chocolate chip kale cookies are healthy, cause kale.
Kale isn’t exactly a new trend, whose nutritional benefits you can expect to phase out with the trend. It’s actually been trending for more than a decade now. Its undeniable benefit is in its ability to condense so many nutrients in so few calories. And considering the worldwide obesity crisis, kale is probably here to stay