Kale is a nutrient powerhouse. When eaten raw, kale provides an exceptional amount of vitamins A, C, B6, folate, and manganese. When kale is cooked, many nutrients disappear, except for vitamin K, which helps blood clot to prevent excessive bleeding.
Kale is considered to be one of the world's healthiest foods, and you can incorporate it in almost anything you eat. Juices, smoothies, salads, entrees -- the list goes on.
Kale nutrition facts
One cup of raw kale contains:
- Calories: 33
- Total fat: 0.6 g
- Saturated fat: 0.1 g
- Polyunsaturated fat: 0.2 g
- Monounsaturated fat: 0 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
- Sodium: 25 mg
- Potassium: 329 mg
- Total carbohydrate: 6 g
- Protein: 2.9 g
One cup of raw kale also contains the following vitamins:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B6
Just one serving of raw kale contains over 100% of the recommended daily value of both Vitamins A and C.
Why you should be massaging your kale
Giving your kale a massage might seem strange. However, kale is intensely bitter, and is sometimes hard to eat raw. When you work the leaves a little bit, their cellular structure breaks down and causes the kale to slightly wilt and reduce the bitter flavor without even cooking it! It also maintains all of those rich nutrients. Try it for yourself!
To massage kale, first get rid of the bottom stalk, as it is difficult to eat. Hold a bunch of kale in your hands and rub them together. You'll notice the leaves' texture will become smooth, and the color will become brighter. Taste the kale as you go. It will gradually lose its bitter taste. When you are finished, the kale will be ready to eat raw in a salad!
What are the health benefits of kale?
You already know about all of the nutrients kale has to offer. But what about its health benefits?
Kale is an anti-inflammatory dietary staple. Due to the occurrence of omega-3s in kale, it is considered to be an anti-inflammatory food. People with conditions like Multiple Sclerosis or auto-immune disorders may benefit from incorporating more kale into their diets.
Kale may help prevent cancer. Many cruciferous vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, bok choy, broccoli, and green leafy vegetables, have been shown to prevent cancer. The National Cancer Institute states that cruciferous vegetables protect cells from DNA damage, inactivate carcinogens, induce cell death, and inhibit tumor blood vessel formation -- all key elements to stop cancer in its tracks.
Kale helps maintain a healthy heart. Vegetables of the Brassica family, such as kale, are proven to benefit heart health due to antioxidants and vitamins E and K. Kale is also said to help lower cholesterol levels in the body.
Kale helps you detox. Kale is both a source of antioxidants, and a natural detoxifier. This two-step process helps your body both prevent against toxins, and get rid of them.
Kale can help you lose weight. Due to kale's extremely low calorie count for its high water content, kale can help keep you fuller longer. It also contains low amounts of fiber and protein, two things needed for effective weight loss. Kale can be a smart addition to your diet and lifestyle in moderate amounts.
How to eat kale
For most people, the idea of munching on a raw kale stalk is unappetizing. Kale, though bitter and fibrous, is very easy to manipulate into a meal and snacks. Snacks such as kale chips provide you with a blank canvas for any other spices or flavors.
You can also prepare kale in the following ways:
- Massaging to eat raw
- Braise in a broth
- Putting raw in a smoothie
- Topping your favorite sandwiches with kale
Kale chips recipe
You may have seen manufactured kale snacks in the health aisles of your favorite food store, but it's even easier and cheaper to make it yourself. They are naturally vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, grain-free, and sugar-free. Plus, you can put your own spin on it! You can make it spicy, cheesy, savory, or even sweet -- it's up to you.
Watch the video below for our take on roasted kale chips.
You can alter this recipe in any way you'd like.
- 1 bunch fresh raw kale
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano, or any hard cheese of your choice
- Pinch sea salt
To make roasted kale chips:
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cut up or rip the fresh kale into 3-4" pieces, discarding any hard stems as these are hard to digest.
- Add the olive oil and cayenne pepper.
- Grate cheese over the top of the kale, oil, and pepper.
- Toss thoroughly to combine, and spread onto a nonstick baking sheet.
- Bake for 15 minutes.
- Eat plain, or sprinkle with finishing spices. Enjoy!
You can think of limitless flavor profiles when you make your own kale chips. You can also double or triple the recipe to your liking.
Some other flavors you can incorporate include:
- Garlic powder
- Barbecue seasoning
- Malt vinegar
- Curry powder
- Smoked paprika
- Onion powder
- Nut powder
- Sunflower seeds
- Nutritional yeast
Is there such a thing as too much kale?
Kale is notoriously fibrous and can be too hard to digest if you eat too much. You also have to be careful if you have kidney conditions such as stones.
The key to any food (including healthy food) and any diet is balance and moderation. This is no different when it comes to kale. You should be eating at least 1 cup of cruciferous veggies per day, but no more than 2 cups. These vegetables include arugula, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, and kale.
The bottom line
The key to effectively incorporating kale into your diet is to find your favorite way to eat it. Raw and cooked are each beneficial in different ways, so switch it up!