While some of us have grown tired of hearing about kale — the trendiest vegetable of the last few years — the leafy green is such a nutritional powerhouse that you should keep it on your plate.
Kathleen M. Zelman, a registered dietitian and director of nutrition for WebMD, calls the tough, cruciferous lettuce “one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet.”
One cup of chopped kale has only 33 calories, but 9 percent of your daily intake of calcium, 206 percent of vitamin A, 134 percent of vitamin C, and 684 percent of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals such as copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.
Kale has a variety of plant chemicals called flavonoids associated with cancer preventive benefits. Two antioxidants in kale — lutein and zeaxanthin — have been associated with a lower risk of chronic eye diseases, including age-related macular degeneration and cataracts, according to the American Optometric Association.
Kale’s moderate fiber content helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
You can add kale to stir-fry, salads, or use it as a pizza topping. Substitute kale for spinach or collard greens to add a nutritional punch to most recipes. Most supermarkets and organic food markets sell precut, prewashed kale.Deborah Kotz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @debkotz2.