"Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense foods out there," explains Courtney Burke, a certified nutrition consultant and healthy eating specialist at Whole Foods in Palm Beach Gardens. While leafy green vegetables are awesome as a whole, kale is among the best—as evidenced by its deep green color. "The color of your food can tell you so much about its nutritional benefits," says Rebecca Berman, a registered dietitian and licensed nutritionist at Palm Beach Dietetics.
- Indole-3-carbinol: This natural substance protects DNA and has antioxidant benefits, notes Elyse Marrone, a registered dietitian nutritionist and past president of the Palm Beach Dietetic Association.
- Alpha-linolenic acid: ALA is "an essential fatty acid that supports healthy brain function," Burke explains.
- Lutein and zeaxanthin: These carotenoids promote healthy eyes and protect against macular degeneration.
How to Incorporate
"Kale isn't just for salads—it has a variety of uses and is surprisingly simple to incorporate into your daily diet," Burke says. She recommends adding it to a morning smoothie, tossing it into a soup or lightly steaming it for a side dish.
Try This: Kale Pesto, by Dianna Muscari, The Kitchen Prep Blog
|Kale pesto is a great addition to pasta and chicken or on sandwiches. Photo by Dianna Muscari|
- 4 large kale leaves, washed and dried
- 1 small bunch, roughly 10 leaves, fresh basil
- 2 small cloves of garlic
- 1/4 cup toasted walnuts
- Salt, to taste
- Pepper, to taste
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil
- Place first six ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until chopped and incorporated. You may need to use a spoon or spatula to scrape from the sides of the blender and push down between pulsing.
- With the blender or processor running, stream in olive oil and continue to blend until you reach desired consistency.
- Store in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for use on pizzas, in sandwiches, on pasta, on chicken, fish, etc.