This trendy, leafy vegetable has a long history as a dietary staple thanks to its powerful punch of nutrients.

What’s the secret to the mystery vegetable known as kale? This leafy green has recently been in the nutritional spotlight due to its many health benefits and great versatility. It can be teamed, made into chips, thrown on a homemade pizza, eaten as a salad or used in healthy smoothie and juicing recipes.

Kale, cabbage, kohlrabi, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts all stem from the same plant family and are called cruciferous vegetables. Kale’s use dates as far back as 600 B.C. It was the one of the most popular vegetables in Europe throughout the Middle Ages.

Rich in calcium, lutein, iron, beta-carotene and vitamins A, C and K, kale is low in saturated fat and very low in cholesterol, amounting to only 33 calories per one-cup serving in its raw form. It is also a strong anti-inflammatory food filled with omega-3 fatty acids, which can combat arthritis, asthma and autoimmune disorders.

Feeling sluggish or suffering from an iron deficiency? Many people are surprised to discover that kale has a higher iron concentration than beef. Iron is vital in the formation of hemoglobin for transporting oxygen to the entire body and aiding cell growth.

Storage Tip

Store kale in the refrigerator in a plastic bag where it will remain fresh for about a week. Do not wash the kale before refrigerating; the added moisture will cause it spoil faster.

Kale also contains a naturally occurring chemical compound called isothiocyanates (ITCs) that have shown chemoprotective properties that help protect healthy tissue. In many experimental studies, ITCs have been able to help inhibit tumor growth. Research to fully understand ITCs is ongoing, but according to a study published by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, high consumption of cruciferous vegetables containing ITCs has been associated with reduced risk for several forms of cancer including gastrointestinal, lung and prostate cancers.

Did you know?

A kale plant can be harvested late into winter and become sweeter after a frost.

Need a Superfood recipe? Try one of these:

Power medley smoothie

Kale & sun-dried tomato salad

Lasagna kale roll ups