26 August 2011

Kale: An often overlooked superfood that everyone should include in their diet

"You mean you can eat kale? I thought it was just something you grow in a garden to prevent weeds?"

When I heard these words spawn from the mouth of a very intelligent person, I realized how many people are oblivious to the wonders of the mighty green called Kale. But even once the understanding of its benefits are realized, many are still at a loss of how to eat it (and enjoy it).

So let's by talking about WHY we should include kale in our diet:

Kale is what I would consider a superfood. For starters, kale is extremely high in fiber. Fiber helps to reduce cholesterol, prevent cancer, and maintain a healthy and mobile digestive tract. Kale is abundantly rich in nutrients. One cup of kale provides over 1000% the recommended daily value of vitamin K, almost 200% vitamin A, over 80% vitamin C, 10-15% calcium, tryptophan, copper, B6... and the list goes on. Kale is also a known anti-inflammatory, due in part to its high content of omega 3 fatty acids, as well as vitamin K. Inflammation is the root cause for so many diseases, including heart disease. Including anti-inflammatory foods in our diet is a necessity.

But it doesn't stop there. Kale is a cancer fighter due to the abundance of antioxidants it provides. Kale has been found to have a very high concentration of caroteniods and flavonoids. The broad spectrum of these antioxidants make kale one of the most cancer-protective foods around.

Kale also contains substances called ITCs, that promote detoxification processes. Additionally, kale is an alkaline food. Many of the processed foods we eat, along with things like stress, are very acidic, and can contribute to disease processes as our body tries to maintain an alkaline pH. Adding foods such as kale to our diet gives a our body a much needed alkaline boost.

Most plant foods provide the most nutrition when eaten raw. It may sound scary to think about munching on raw kale, but I have the antidote to that fear: a massaged kale salad. This salad pleases even the most pickiest of palates. In fact, it made the kale newbie (quoted above) not only realize that kale could indeed be eaten...but that it tasted good too!!

This salad is effortless to prepare and stays good for a few days. Watch the video here or follow the simple recipe below:

1 bunch kale
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 diced red onion
1/2 cup diced cherry tomatoes
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons unfiltered apple cider vinegar

De-stem kale by pulling it away from stems. Rinse leaves, then stack them and slice into thin ribbons. Put in a large bowl and add salt. Massage salt into kale for about 2 minutes. (The kale will shrink down as if being sauteed).

Add onions, tomatoes, and sunflowers to kale and stir together. Dress with oil and ACV and mix well.

Enjoy this 'weed-wonder' often...your body will thank you!

Lori Zito | @LoriZito
Lori is an animal-loving, life-loving vegan who is passionate about spreading the message of better health through a vegan diet. She works as a certified holistic health and nutrition coach, a yoga instructor, and a physical therapist. Learn more at her website Live In The Balance and follow her on Facebook.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/photofarmer