Last updated: August 18, 2021

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Welcome back to Monederosmart! This time we will talk about kale, a vegetable from Asia, which stands out for its multiple properties and health benefits. Do you want to know more about this superfood? Here we will tell you about it!

Kale is a plant similar to cauliflower, which has become very popular in recent times due to its particular and intense flavour, and its numerous nutritional contributions. It contains fibre, antioxidants, proteins, vitamins A, C and K, minerals such as iron, calcium and potassium, omega-3 fatty acids, etc.

In this article we will tell you about the main characteristics of this wonderful food, including its different varieties, presentations, forms of consumption, advantages and not so beneficial aspects. Don't miss it!




The most important

  • Kale is a vegetable of the cruciferous family (from which cauliflowers, cabbages, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, turnips, etc. also come from). This plant has numerous nutritional properties and great health benefits.
  • In the market you can find different varieties of kale, among which green kale, curly kale, lacitan, redbor and red russian kale stand out. These variants differ from each other mainly in their format, texture and appearance.
  • When choosing this superfood, it is important to take into account certain factors, such as its different uses, forms of consumption, conservation, and possible side effects, among other important aspects.

The Best Kale: Our Picks

Buying guide: What you need to know about kale

This buying guide is specially designed to provide you with information about the product you are interested in buying. Therefore, we will tell you about the most important characteristics of kale, including its advantages and those aspects that are not so beneficial.

Kale can be grown in any type of garden, including urban gardens. (Photo: Ian Allenden / 123rf.com)

What is kale and what are its benefits?

Kale, also called collard or kale, is a variant of cabbage, characterised by its deep green curly leaves. This vegetable belongs to the cruciferous family, from which cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, turnip, etc. also come.

Kale has become very popular in recent times not only because of its intense and delicious taste, but also because of its many properties, which make it a superfood. It contains fibre, vitamins A, C and K, minerals such as iron, calcium and potassium, omega-3 fatty acids, proteins, antioxidants, etc.

It also has a high water content and very few calories (33 Kcal per cup), making it ideal for people who want to lose weight. It is also anti-inflammatory and contains substances that prevent various types of cancer - a diamond of nature!

Advantages
  • It contains fibre
  • It has a high content of vitamins A, C and K
  • It has minerals such as calcium, iron and potassium
  • It is rich in omega 3 fatty acids
  • It helps to lose weight
Disadvantages
  • Not recommended in cases of irritable colon
  • Not recommended if you suffer from gall bladder or kidney problems
  • In cases of hypothyroidism, it could prevent the correct absorption of iodine

Green, curly, lacitan, redbor or red russian kale, what should you pay attention to?

There are different varieties of Kale that differ from each other mainly in their texture, shape and appearance. Below, we will mention the 5 most common types so that you can get to know their main peculiarities and choose the one you like best.

Green kale. As its name suggests, the leaves of this plant are completely green, and can be shiny or matte. From this type of kale, which is the most common and used, other varieties arise with different shapes, appearances and textures.

Curly kale. This variant is not so intense green in colour, and its taste is more pungent and bitter, so that the younger varieties predominate (of a dark green hue), whose taste is milder, and therefore more adaptable to most palates.

Kale lacitano. This variety is also known as dinosaur kale, since its rough texture is similar to the skin of this prehistoric reptile. Its leaves are sharp and narrow, and have a greenish-blue hue (quite dark), and its taste is the least bitter of all the varieties.

Kale redbor. This variety of kale is characterised by its ornamental appearance, which is why it is also used as a decorative plant for gardens and flower arrangements. Its intense red or purple colour, besides being very showy and attractive, is a product of its richness in anthocyanins.

Russian red kale. This variant of kale has flattened, long and irregular leaves, whose colour is reddish with purple tones in the veins. Although its taste is rather spicy, it provides a sensation of sweetness on the palate, unlike other varieties.

Kale green Kale curly Kale lacitan Kale redbor Kale Russian red
Colour Dark green Green Green Dark greenish blue Deep red or purple Reddish and purple
Texture Curly Curly Curly Rough Curly Smooth
Shape Elongated Elongated Tapered and narrow Elongated Flattened, elongated and irregular
Flavour Intense Spicy and more bitter (except in young varieties) The mildest of all varieties Intense Spicy with a hint of sweetness

Russian red kale is characterised by its purple tones and its spicy yet sweet taste. (Photo: Brent Hofacker / 123rf.com)

Buying criteria

In this last section of the article we will tell you what are the most important factors to consider when buying kale. This information will help you to select the most suitable variant for you, and to make the most of its many benefits.

  • Supplements
  • Culinary uses
  • Cosmetic treatments
  • Conservation
  • Side effects

Supplements

Kale can also be consumed in the form of supplements, which come in a variety of forms, formats and combinations. Below, we will discuss the most common and widely consumed variants of these vitamin supplements.

Powdered. Powder is one of the most widely used and marketed supplementary variants of kale (either alone or in combination); it is consumed diluted in water and smoothies, or mixed with yoghurt and even salads. The recommended amount is approximately 2 to 3 teaspoons per day.

Tablets. Kale tablets usually come in packs of 30 units. It is advisable to take one capsule a day to replenish energy, vitamins, minerals, etc., but it is advisable to consult a specialist beforehand and check the quality of the product.

Culinary uses

Kale is a very versatile food, as it can also be adapted to different culinary uses. Here are some ideas on how you can cook this delicious vegetable to make the most of its flavour and varied nutritional properties.

Sautéing. Kale is usually sautéed to accompany different dishes, made up of meat, pasta, rice, or other vegetables. It is advisable to cook it with little water and not to use too much cooking time in order to preserve all its properties and nutrients intact.

In salads. This food can also be eaten raw, as an accompaniment to salads and different cold dishes. It is advisable to wash it well beforehand, and to eat it once it has been bought, as it becomes more bitter as it dries.

Juices. It is very fashionable to consume kale juices, shakes or smoothies (generally accompanied by other vegetables or fruits). Try to choose the most tender leaves of this plant, as they have a milder flavour; and do not overdo it in quantity, as too much of these drinks could cause digestive problems.

Kale green juices are low in calories and high in antioxidants. (Photo: Brent Hofacker / 123rf.com)

Cosmetic treatments

The numerous properties of this great food not only favour the good functioning of the organism, but also the health of our skin, since it is a powerful antioxidant and has a high content of vitamins A, K and C.

Several cosmetic brands have already developed beauty creams based on kale and other natural components, taking advantage of the dermal benefits offered by vitamins A, K and C, since they help regenerate damaged tissues and give the skin greater firmness and radiance.

Preservation

The correct preservation of this fantastic food will allow you to keep it fresh for longer and optimise its numerous natural properties. Here are the different ways in which you can store kale and enjoy all its benefits.

Covered. Once you buy kale, it is important to cover it with a damp dish towel, or place it in a plastic bag. You can store it in the refrigerator and it will last for about a week, depending on how fresh it was at the time of purchase.

Dehydrated. You can also dehydrate kale by placing it in the oven for several hours at a low temperature. Then grind it and store it in an airtight container (preferably glass), and sprinkle it on different dishes as if it were a complementary condiment.

Frozen. A very practical and convenient option is to wash and dry the kale, cut it into strips, and cut it into portions. Then place it in airtight plastic bags and store it in the freezer, from where you will take it out as you consume it (and where it will also last for several months).

Kale strengthens the immune system, preventing different types of diseases. (Photo: Evgenia Lysakov / 123rf.com)

Side effects

As mentioned throughout the article, kale is a highly nutritious vegetable that is beneficial for the proper functioning of the body and for the prevention of various diseases. However, it does have some contraindications that need to be taken into account.

Cases of hypothyroidism. The consumption of kale (in high quantities) is not recommended for people suffering from hypothyroidism, due to the fact that this food contains sulphur compounds (such as glucosinolates and sulphopharans) which can interfere with the correct absorption of iodine.

Anticoagulant drugs. Excessive consumption of kale is also not recommended for people taking anticoagulant medication, since vitamin K (very present in this vegetable) can interfere with the correct assimilation of this type of medication.

Juices. On the other hand, drinking kale juices, shakes or smoothies constantly, very quickly and excessively, can cause indigestion, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, etc., as this plant has a high fibre content (which is why it is not recommended for people with irritable bowel syndrome).

Heavy metals. Both kale and other leafy vegetables can pick up heavy metals from the soil, such as cadmium, arsenic and thallium, among others. It should be noted that in order to be poisoned by these elements, really large quantities of kale have to be consumed.

(Featured image photo: Jennifer Barrow / 123rf.com)

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