It is sooo part of our culture that we have hundreds of recipes for it. In fact, in northern Germany it has cult status in late Autumn when it is best after the first frost and restaurant menus serve the most famous dish Grünkohl mit Pinkel (kale with a special kind of sausage).
You either love that (like I do), or order something else altogether. It’s take it or leave it with no love in between.
It may be a waning trend in Northern America or England but I can tell you that the first Kale World Championship was a successful happening in Germany in January 2017.
Surprised? I was.
To help you brush up on what the fuss is about, here we go:
Kale is a leafy cabbage sort of the Brassica Oleracea Acephala plant group. It is also known as borecole and has dark green leaves and even purple with no head formed in the central leaves like that of a cabbage. It was first cultivated in Asia Minor and was brought to Europe by Celtic voyagers back in 600 BC.
Kale is a nutritional powerhouse, rich in vitamins, minerals such as iron and protein – all play an important role for healthy skin, hair, bones and overall health. In fact, much more so than spinach making kale the healthier choice.
There are many different varieties with all providing the same nutrients and health benefits. It is especially high in lutein, Vit. K, A and C, prebiotic nutrients and minerals.
Curly Kale: This kale variety has ruffled leaves and a tough center stalk. It is dark green in color and has a delicious, sharp flavor.
Ornamental Kale: Also known as salad savoy, ornamental kale has purple, green or white leaves and the stalks are united. It has a gentle flavor and more tender texture.
Tuscan Kale: Also called Lacinato, it has deep blue-green nearly black-green leaves with an embossed appearance to its leaves. It is milder, sweeter and pleasing to the palate compared to curly kale.
9 Reasons to Love It
- Kale is considered to be one of the most nutritious foods. It has loads of nutrients yet is low in calories. It contains little fat and a large portion of the fat that it does contain is the omega-3 fatty acid. Combine it with lentils for a super nutrient packed dish (each completes what is lacking in the other)!
- Kale is high in powerful antioxidants such as quercetin and kaempferol. These can reverse the oxidation damage caused by free radicals. It delays the aging process and is beneficial against many diseases such as cancer.
- Kale has high concentrations of Vitamin C. It greatly helps in boosting our immune system. It is vital in the utilization of collagen in our body.
- It helps to lower cholesterol levels. Cholesterol plays an important role in the body and one of those roles is the production of bile acids that digest fat. These acids combined with cholesterol are released and absorbed again in the bloodstream and for some individuals may result in higher cholesterol levels. Kale contains bile acid sequestrants that bind bile acids with cholesterol. This prevents it from being reabsorbed in the bloodstream, minimizing the cholesterol levels which in turn reduces the cause of cardiovascular conditions. It is best to steam kale about 5 minutes to preserve this effect.
- Kale has a high concentration of Vitamin K1. This is vital for blood clotting and regenerates significant proteins by giving them the capability in binding calcium.
- Kale is also an excellent source of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is an anti-oxidant that can be turned into Vitamin A by the body. Because of its anti-inflammatory ability, certain diseases are cured and prevented from returning.
- Kale is packed with loads of calcium vital for bone nutrition and promotes better cellular functions. Aside from calcium, it is also an excellent source of minerals and is especially rich in magnesium which is important for the prevention of certain heart diseases and type 2 diabetes.
- Kale has important nutrients that protects the eyes. Kale has two carotenoid antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin that prevent cataracts and macular degeneration of the eyes.
- Kale helps you lose weight. It has low calorie content with high amounts of protein and fiber that aids in weight loss. It gives enough bulk that makes you feel full and also helps to flush out harmful toxins.
If you didn’t know about all its benefits, I hope you appreciate it now and keep it on your menu whenever it’s available in your part of the world. Use it where ever you would use spinach.
I am excited again because after many, many years of not having it, lately I have been able to buy kale here in my part of Spain. In fact, it seems to be ‘trending’ here and now increasingly is easier to find.
For myself, Grünkohl (kale) means enjoying culinary memories!
Small selection of resources:
- Grünkohl ist auf einem internationalen Siegeszug First International World Championship interview (German)
- Giaconi JA, Yu F, Stone KL, et al. The Association of Consumption of Fruits/Vegetables With Decreased Risk of Glaucoma Among Older African-American Women in the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures. American Journal of Ophthalmology, Volume 154, Issue 4, October 2012, pages 635-644.
- Kahlon TS, Chiu MC, and Chapman MH. Steam cooking significantly improves in vitro bile acid binding of collard greens, kale, mustard greens, broccoli, green bell pepper, and cabbage. Nutr Res. 2008 Jun;28(6):351-7. 2008.
- Migliozzi M, Thavarajah D, Thavarajah P, et al. Lentil and Kale: Complementary Nutrient-Rich Whole Food Sources to Combat Micronutrient and Calorie Malnutrition. Nutrients. 2015 Nov 11;7(11):9285-98. doi: 10.3390/nu7115471.
- Thavarajah D, Thavarajah P, Abare A, et al. Mineral micronutrient and prebiotic carbohydrate profiles of USA-grown kale (Brassica oleracea L. var. acephala). Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, Volume 52, September 2016, pages 9-15.