Kale 101, What You Need to Know

August 05, 2013

Kale is all the rage, and its popularity keeps it plentiful in the supermarket. Find out all of the details about kale here

Kale is all the rage, and its popularity keeps it plentiful in every produce section, in the center aisles as kale chips, and prepared foods section as a salad – so what exactly is kale and why should you eat it? Find out SupermarketGuru’s thoughts and tips here.

What is Kale? 
Kale is a cruciferous, green leafy vegetable (Brassica oleracea), with several varieties: curly kale, ornamental kale, and dinosaur (lLcinato or Tuscan) kale, all differ in taste, texture, and appearance.

Nutrition to know: 
Kale is a nutrition dream, high in fiber, antioxidants and carotenoids (lutein and beta-carotene), and more than 45 flavonoids, particularly kaempferol, and other phytonutrients like quercetin (combats inflammation) and sulforaphane (fights cancer). as well as anti-inflammatory nutrients (omega-3), and twice the vitamin K as other cruciferous vegetables. Kale also contains tryptophan, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, protein, and more.

In fact fresh kale has more vitamin C than an orange! One cup of chopped kale has 134 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C, while a medium orange has 113 percent. And in terms of weight one cup of kale is about 67 grams, while a medium orange weighs 131 grams. Gram for gram kale wins!

As mentioned above, kale contains alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid that combats inflammation among other things. Each cup has 121 mg of ALA.

Packed with vitamin A! A one cup serving of kale contains over 200% of our vitamin A recommendation in the form of beta carotene.

How to Buy: 
Look for firm, evenly colored, unwilted leaves (yellow edges indicate age) and moist hardy stems. Avoid those with brown spots or small holes. Curly kale has ruffled leaves and a fibrous stalk and a lively pungent flavor with an edge of pepper.
Ornamental kale (salad savoy) has either green, white, or purple leaves and its stalks coalesce to form a loosely knit head; mellow in flavor and tender in texture. Dinosaur kale or Lacinato or Tuscan kale has dark blue-green leaves with embossed texture and a slightly sweeter, more delicate taste. Smaller-sized leaves are more tender and mild than larger leaves. “Baby” kale is also available.

How to Use: 
Steam, bake, sauté or use in a stir-fry, or soup, or with grains. Lightly dress in olive oil and lemon for a raw salad. 1-1 ½ cups is a healthful serving. Combining kale with healthy fats such as avocados, olives and olive oil, flax oil and more help with the absorption of many of its nutrients; specifically fat soluble vitamins like A and K.

How to Store: 
Place kale in a plastic storage bag removing air as possible. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days (some can be stored longer), although age may increase bitterness. Wash only before using to avoid spoilage.

Smarter Shopping:
Although available year round, kale’s primary season is mid-winter to early spring, and yields a sweeter leaf.