Rachel Schwartz is a Natural Home & Garden editorial intern. She attends the University of Kansas where she studies Journalism and writes columns about environmental and organic health for the campus newspaper, The University Daily Kansan. She is passionate about reducing her carbon footprint and filling her body with the best possible foods.
Over the past few months, my uncle and dad have both started eating healthier meals. Most of the foods they’re trying are ones that you and I eat everyday or at least have heard of. A new one for me, though, is kale. After searching, I found out that kale is one of the most nutritious veggies out there! Kale even has many of the health benefits, minus the environmental impact, that beef does.
Take a look at these facts. Kale takes about 60 days to fully grow. Cows can take up to two years until they are ready to be used to make beef. All kale needs to grow is water, soil and sunshine—hardly a pain-staking process. Cows raised for beef must be fed 16 pounds of grain and 2,400 gallons of water. Also, beef production is one of the greatest contributors to global warming. No doubt about it, kale is the better choice for the environment.
Kale is also chock full of nutrients, some of which help fight diseases. Beta-carotene, one type of antioxidant kale contains, is believed to fight, most notably, cancer. Including kale regularly into your diet also provides glucosinolates, which prevent many different types of cancer including breast cancer, ovarian cancer and colon cancer. Kale is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin K (just one cup of kale contains 1,020 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin K), both of which act as an anti-inflammatory and, as a result, help fight against health problems including arthritis and asthma.
Kale also contains high levels of nutrients such as calcium, fiber and iron. Kale contains more iron per calorie than its rival beef. Compared with milk, it contains more calcium per calorie, making it a good food to eat to help prevent osteoporosis. In 100 calories of kale, 7 percent of that is fiber, making kale a great helper in the digestive process.
When buying kale, you will always want to buy the organic variety, because conventional kale is part of the “Dirty Dozen.” This means that it is one of the foods that contains the highest pesticide residue, so, since you would (should) anyway, go organic.
Interested in trying kale? Check out these recipes! Make kale chips, white bean and kale stew, or sauté of kale with wild rice and garlic. Take it from me: kale is also delicious in addition to being nutritious!