Kale – Veggie Superstar
By Carol DiPirro • January 17th, 2010 • 6877 Views
Kale, a descendent of the wild cabbage, is thought to have originated in Asia Minor and to have been brought to Europe around 600 B.C. by groups of Celtic wanderers. Curly kale played an important role in early Europe, having been a significant crop during ancient Roman times and a popular vegetable eaten by peasants in the Middle Ages. English settlers brought kale to the United States in the 17th century. Both ornamental and dinosaur kale are much more recent varieties. Dinosaur kale was discovered in Italy in the late 19th century. Ornamental kale, originally a decorative garden plant, was first cultivated commercially in the 1980s in California. Ornamental kale is now better known by the name Savoy.
The leaves of the kale plant provide more nutritional value for fewer calories than almost any other food around. Kale is a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the Brassica family, a group of cruciferous vegetables, including cabbage, collards and brussels sprout, that have gained recent widespread attention due to their phytonutrients. It is also an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and manganese, a very good source of dietary fiber, calcium, copper, and potassium.
It's the organosulfur compounds in this food that have been the main subject of recent phytonutrient research which includes the glucosinolates. There are over 100 different glucosinolates in plants; 10-15 are present in kale. Yet these 10-15 appear able to lessen the occurrence of a wide variety of cancers, including breast, bladder and ovarian cancers. Although it is not yet fully understood how kale's sulfur-containing phytonutrients prevent cancer, several researchers point to its ability to activate detoxifying enzymes in the liver that help neutralize potentially carcinogenic substances. Sulforaphane, which is formed when cruciferous vegetables such as kale are chewed, triggers the liver to produce enzymes that detoxify cancer-causing chemicals, inhibits chemically-induced breast cancers and induces colon cancer cells to commit suicide.
How many weekly servings of cruciferous vegetables do you need to lower your risk of cancer? Just 3 to 5 servings/week - less than one serving a day! (1 serving = 1 cup) ...