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Chock-full of essential nutrients, such as calcium, folate, potassium, fiber, iron, and vitamins A (in the form of beta-carotene), C, and K, kale provides more nutritional value from fewer calories than almost any other food. Like all cruciferous vegetables, this curly edged leafy green is also rich in sulforaphane, which keeps blood vessels healthy and has been shown to have anticancer and immunity-boosting properties. Kale also boasts the antioxidants zeaxanthin and lutein, which promote eye health. Studies suggest that there may be a relationship between increased lutein consumption and decreased incidence of atherosclerosis and macular degeneration.
Choose It & Use It Kale’s mild, earthy taste and crunchy texture add interest to soups and stews. It can be found in markets year-round, though its peak season is mid-winter through early spring. Cooking kale slightly increases its antioxidant score, but don’t overdo it. Too much heat diminishes the benefits. For best results, lightly steam the leaves until soft, but still crisp. Chopping also releases kale’s health-promoting compounds.