The Making of a Superstar: Kale!

Move along, carrots. Broccoli, you are so last year. Kale, you are now the star!

What pushed this leafy green from the dinner plates of superstars and the menus of trendy cafés to having its own 501c3 organization? While all this attention could make a cruciferous vegetable blush, kale’s resume is grounded in nutritional goodness, and I can tell you why.

Let’s start in the beginning. Kale is truly as old as time, being cultivated by the ancient Greeks as something to boil and eat as a cure for hangovers, according to the New York Times. While the term “phytonutrients” likely wasn’t common on the Greek party scene, this nutritional component of kale’s molecules has brain-boosting properties.
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Kale also has high levels of sulfur compounds such as glucosinolates. For those of you who are not nutritionists, this means eating kale can help address inflammation. I will put the phrase “contains glucosinolates” on the place card by kale chips at my next party and see what people say.

I can even add in that my tasty kale chips (see picture) are high in the antioxidant “anthocyanins” – which may sound scary until you realize it may help keep fat cells from expanding. The Greeks were on to something!

More generally speaking, kale is full of vitamins C, K and A, as well as being an excellent source of calcium, iron and potassium – all components necessary for a healthy body. At just 33 calories a cup, this nutritionally dense vegetable brings a lot of bang for the buck.
What may really seal the deal on kale’s stardom is the fact that it is an especially good source of antioxidants, including kaempferol, quercetin, and isorhamnetin, which are associated with cancer prevention.

Have I convinced you to be part of kale’s fan club? Kale is actually easy to grow, and continues to produce late into the winter. In fact, kale becomes sweeter after frost, something I will try to reinforce with my teenagers who bought me my “Kale” shirt for my birthday.

Kale is indeed a star, and one worthy of your dinner table. Just don’t ask for autographs, kale is too busy being healthy.

KendaKaleA busy working mom, Kenda Resler Friend is always looking for ways to take nutrition up a notch for her family. She is passionate about telling the story of agriculture, and thankful for kale as a readily available veggie for her teenagers! Kenda has worked in agricultural public relations for 27 years, and earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Purdue University.