13 February 2012

Produce Confidential: Kale

The only thing I knew about kale before I picked up a bunch at the grocery store was that kale is green and leafy. I've seen kale chip recipes, a co-worker who put kale in her smoothies, and plenty of other uses for the vegetable, so I was curious.  Kale has all sorts of vitamins and nutritional benefits that counter its bitter taste. Now, when I see health benefits that include "risk-lowering benefits for cancer", I have to take that with a grain or two of salt, but kale, it seems, is a pretty impressive piece of leafy green vegetable.

Kale is what is known as a cruciferous vegetable. All that means is that it is in the cabbage family along with broccoli, cauliflower, and (my favorite) Brussels sprouts. There are three types of kale: curly, ornamental, and dinosaur.

To me, raw kale tastes a lot like raw broccoli (so, delicious), which would make sense. I can easily see kale as a way to spice up a spinach salad.

Peak Season

Kale is available throughout the year, although it is more widely available from mid-winter through the beginning of spring.

Nutrients in Kale*

1.00 cup, cooked (130.00 grams)
Nutrient%Daily Value

vitamin K1327.6%

vitamin A354.1%

vitamin C88.8%


dietary fiber10.4%







vitamin E5.5%

omega 3 fatty acids5.4%

vitamin B2 (riboflavin)5.2%


vitamin B1 (thiamin)4.6%



vitamin B3 (niacin)3.2%

Calories (36)2%

* Hijacked from The World's Healthiest Foods website

Health Benefits

Besides being packed full of vitamins and minerals, kale has a number of noted health benefits. Incorporating kale into your diet can help lower cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease. Eating kale and other cruciferous vegetables can also lower your risk of cancer. Again, I take that sort of research with a grain of salt, but any chance is better than no chance at all.

Pick Your Kale

Look for firm, dark leaves and healthy stems. Small leaves will be more mild in flavor. Kale can range in color from dark green to purple, so some varieties may be appropriate for adding color to salads and other dishes.


Store kale in a cool environment to keep the leaves from wilting. Kale does best in the refrigerator for up to five days, and the longer it is stored, the more bitter it becomes. You should not wash kale before storing.


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