: In Season: Kale
By Michael T. Murray, ND
Kale is a green leafy vegetable that is a member of the cruciferous or cabbage family. In fact, kale is probably the closest relative of wild cabbage in the entire cabbage family.
There are several varieties of kale, known commonly as curly kale, ornamental kale, and dinosaur kale, all of which differ in taste, texture, and appearance. Curly kale has ruffled leaves and a fibrous stalk and is usually deep green in color. It has a lively, pungent flavor with delicious bitter, peppery qualities. Ornamental kale is a more recently cultivated species that is oftentimes referred to as salad savoy. Its leaves may be green, white, or purple, and its stalks coalesce to form a loosely knit head. Ornamental kale has a more mellow flavor and tender texture. Dinosaur kale is the common name of the kale variety known as Lacinato. It features dark blue-green leaves that have an embossed texture. It has a slightly sweeter and more delicate taste than curly kale.
Kale is among the more highly nutritious vegetables. It is an excellent source of carotenes, vitamins C and B6, and manganese. In fact, one cup of kale supplies more than 70 percent of the RDI for vitamin C, with only 20 calories. It is also a very good source of dietary fiber, as well as many minerals, including copper, iron, and calcium. In addition, it is a very good source of vitamins B1, B2, and E.
Kale has almost three times as much calcium as phosphorus, which is a very beneficial ratio since high phosphorus consumption has been linked to osteoporosis because it reduces the utilization and promotes the excretion of calcium.
As a member of the cabbage family, kale exhibits the same sort of anticancer properties as other members. Kale is also extremely high in chlorophyll and carotene, especially beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
How to Select and Store
High-quality kale is fresh, tender, and dark green. Avoid greens that show dry or yellowing leaves. Smaller-sized leaves are not only easier to handle, they will be more tender and have a milder flavor than larger leaves.
Kale should be stored in the refrigerator crisper wrapped in a damp paper towel or placed in a perforated plastic bag. Do not wash before storing, as this will cause it to become limp. Kale can be kept in the refrigerator for several days, although it's best when eaten within one to two days after purchased.
Perk up your dinner salad by using chopped kale as a salad green. Lightly saute kale with fresh garlic and sprinkle with lemon juice before serving. The taste and texture of steamed kale make it a wonderful topping for homemade pizzas. Kale leaves make an excellent addition to fresh, vegetable juices too.
Dr. Michael T. Murray is one of the world's leading authorities on natural medicine and the author of more than 30 bestselling books, including The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine.
He is a graduate and former faculty member, and serves on the Board of Regents, of Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington.
© 2016 doctormurray.com