Kale or borecole is rich in numerous health benefiting polyphenolic flavonoid compounds such as lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene, and vitamins than found in any other green leafy vegetables. It is widely cultivated across Europe, Japan, and the United States for its “frilly“leaves.
The plant belongs to the “cabbage” (brassica) family, has similar in growth and appearance to collard greens. Botanically, borecole belongs to Brassica oleracea (acephala group) and is closely related to broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts etc.
Kale is annual plant; flourishes well in rich organic soil and prefer cool climate and light frost conditions. Its succulent, curly leaves appear “rosette” like and may have dark green to blue-green color depending on the cultivar type. It is grown mainly for autumn and winter harvest, because cool weather further enhances its sweet taste quality.
Some of the important cultivars grown around the globe are Scottish curly leaf (Brassica napus (Pabularia Group)), Red Russian, Blue curled, Winterbor cultivars.
Tuscan kale, also known as cavalo nero, is a popular winter season greens in the Northern parts of Italy. It features distinctive very long, curly, blue-green leaves with embossed surface resembling dinosaur skin, giving its name as dinosaur kale.
Health benefits of Kale (borecole)
- Kale is very versatile and nutritious green leafy vegetable. It is widely recognized as an incredibly nutritious vegetable since ancient Greek and Roman times for its low fat, no cholesterol but health benefiting anti-oxidant properties.
- Kale, like other members of the brassica family, contains health-promoting phytochemicals, sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol that are appears to protect against prostate and colon cancers.
- Di-indolyl-methane (DIM), a metabolite of indole-3-carbinol has been found to be an effective immune modulator, anti-bacterial and anti-viral agent through its action of potentiating “Interferon-Gamma” receptors.
- Borecole is very rich source of ß-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. These flavonoids have strong anti-oxidant and anti-cancer activities. Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body.
- Zeaxanthin, an important dietary carotenoid, is selectively absorbed into the retinal macula lutea in the eyes where it is thought to provide antioxidant and protective light-filtering functions. Thus, it helps prevent retinal detachment and offers protection against “age related macular degeneration disease” (ARMD) in the elderly.
- It is very rich in vitamin A, 100 g leaves provide 512% of RDA. Vitamin A is required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin and is essential for vision. Foods rich in this vitamin offer protection against lung and oral cavity cancers.
- It is one of the excellent vegetable sources for vitamin-K; 100 g provides about 700% of recommended intake. Vitamin K has potential role bone health by promoting osteotrophic (bone formation and strengthening) activity. Adequate vitamin-K levels in the diet helps limiting neuronal damage in the brain; thus, has established role in the treatment of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
- 100 g of fresh leaves contain 120 mg or 200% of daily-recommended levels of vitamin C. Scottish curly leaf variety yet has more of this vitamin, 130 mg/100g. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, which helps body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful oxygen free radicals.
- This leafy vegetable is notably good in many B-complex group of vitamins such as niacin, vit.B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin, pantothenic acid, etc that are essential for substrate metabolism in the body.
- It is also rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, sodium, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure by countering effects of sodium. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Iron is required for cellular oxidation and red blood cell formation.
Kale provides rich nutrition ingredients that offer protection from vitamin A deficiency, osteoporosis, iron deficiency anemia, and believed to protect from cardiovascular diseases and, colon and prostate cancers.
Selection and storage
Kale is available at its best during winter months from November until march. Exposure of crop to light frost in fact enhances its eating quality. While harvesting, individual lower leaves may be picked either progressively as the main stem elongates or the whole plant is cut at the stem and packed in bundles. In the store, buy fresh green leaves featuring crispy, crunchy, brilliant dark blue-green color.
Borecole, like chard, is extremely perishable leafy vegetable, so should be used quickly once harvested. If at all to be stored in the refrigerator, set temperature below 35 degree F and high humidity level to maintain their vitality.
Preparation and serving methods
As in spinach, borecole should be washed thoroughly in clean running water and swished in saline water for about 10-15 minutes in order to remove soil, dirt and any fungicide/insecticide residues.
Just before cooking, remove tough stems, and separate wilted leaves from healthy ones. The leaves are generally blanched before use in cooking.
Here are some serving tips:
- Fresh young crispy borecole can be used raw in salads.
- Mature leaves and stalks are typically cooked or sautéed.
- Tuscan kale leaves are popular winter staples in all over Mediterranean, used in soups (ribollita toscana), stews, salads, pizza, and pasta.
- The leaves also used in the variety of traditional kale recipes with potatoes, green beans, poultry, and meat.
- In Japan, fresh kale juice is quite popular.
Because of its high vitamin K content, patients taking anti-coagulants such as warfarin are encouraged to avoid kale since it increases the vitamin K concentration in the blood, which is what the drugs are attempting to lower. This effectively raises the effective dose of the drug and causes toxicity.
Its leaves contain 0.2 g/100 g of oxalic acid, a value far less than some other comparable greens such as spinach (0.97 g/100) and purslane (1.31 g/100 g). It may be used, however with caution, even in individuals with known oxalate urinary tract stones are advised to avoid eating other greens and certain vegetables belonging to amaranthaceae and brassica family because of their high oxalic acid content. Adequate intake of water is therefore advised to maintain normal urine output.
Here are some of my healthy recipes that feature Kale:
Source : www.nutrition-and-you.com