Kale is king. Along with broccoli, it is one of the nutrition stand-outs among vegetables. It fights fat through its ability to mingle in a variety of roles -- in side dishes, combined in main dishes, or in salads.
For a green, kale is unusually high in fiber. This helps create the bulk you need to fill you up and to keep you full for a good amount of time. Kale is also an excellent source of nutrients, especially vitamin A and calcium. With a combination of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, kale is a dieter's dream food.
Though greens in general are nutritious foods, kale stands a head above the rest. Not only is it one of your best sources of beta-carotene, one of the antioxidants believed by many nutrition experts to be a major player in the battle against cancer, heart disease, and certain age-related chronic diseases, it also provides other important nutrients.
According to recent research results, kale is an incredible source of well-absorbed calcium, which is one of the many factors that may help prevent osteoporosis. It also provides decent amounts of vitamin C, folic acid, vitamin B6, manganese, and potassium.
The manganese in kale helps your body's own antioxidant defense system, superoxide dismutase, protecting you from damaging free radicals. Its folate and B6 team up to keep homocysteine levels down, which may help prevent heart disease, dementia, and osteoporosis bone fractures.
Don't forget, kale's a member of the cruciferous family, along with broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and collard greens. Research indicates that loading up on cruciferous vegetables and the organosulfur compounds they contain can help ward off certain cancers.
Selection and Storage
Kale looks like a darker green version of collards, but with frills. It also has a stronger flavor and a somewhat coarser texture. The smaller leaves are more tender and the flavor is more mild, but it grows stronger the longer it is stored. So unless you actually prefer a strong taste, use kale within a day or two of buying it. Wrap fresh kale in damp paper towels, and store it in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.
Preparation and Serving Tips
Wash kale thoroughly before cooking, as it often has dirt and sand in its leaves. Hearty kale stands up well to cooking, so just about any method will do. But keep cooking time to a minimum to preserve nutrients and to keep kale's strong odor from permeating the kitchen. Simmer the greens in a well-seasoned stock for 10 to 30 minutes, until tender. Don't forget that most greens cook down a great deal. One pound of raw kale yields only about a half cup of cooked. Kale also works well in stir-fries, soups, and stews.
Kale is a weight-loss food that is packed with vitamins and antioxidants that may fight cancer while you're fighting your waistline.
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