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Healthiest Foods: Kale

Mary Murray

   "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.

Benefits

  • 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

Ingredients

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

Method

  1. 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.
  2. With the blender or processor running, stream in olive oil and continue to blend until you reach desired consistency.
  3. Store in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for use on pizzas, in sandwiches, on pasta, on chicken, fish, etc.
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