Kale is rich in vitamins and minerals.
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Kale's dark green leaves are dense with fiber, antioxidants like zeaxanthin and lutein and a variety of vitamins and minerals. As a member of the same cruciferous family of vegetables that includes cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, kale is also rich in glucosinolate compounds that may help prevent cancer, says the Linus Pauling Institute. The healthiest ways to eat kale include steamed, sauteed, boiled in soups, braised or raw, as you would fresh spinach or cabbage. The method you use to prepare and eat kale depends on which nutritional aspect of the vegetable you want to maximize.
Go Steamed or Raw
The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that the vitamin C content of foods decreases the longer the item is exposed to light, heat and air. Because of this, vegetables like kale provide more vitamin C when raw than cooked, even though a cup of cooked kale weighs 130 grams, nearly twice as much as the weight of a cup of raw kale. Each 1-cup serving of cooked kale has 53 milligrams of vitamin C, while 1 cup of raw kale has 80 milligrams. If you're concerned about increasing your vitamin C intake, cut kale only just before you plan on using it. Cook it by steaming instead of boiling, or use it raw. Slice kale thinly and use it in salads or slaws, or, as "Bon Appetit" suggests, combine kale leaves with pineapple, kiwi and fresh mint to make a smoothie.
Serve it with Fat
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin. This means that in order for you to absorb the most vitamin K possible from the food you eat, you need to consume it with a source of dietary fat. The Harvard School of Public Health estimates that most Americans don't get enough vitamin K regularly. Kale is an excellent source of the nutrient, providing over 100 percent of an adult's recommended daily intake of vitamin K in each raw or cooked cup. Eat kale with a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat like extra-virgin olive oil by sautГ©ing it briefly in heated oil, or by substituting it for basil when preparing pesto.
Add Fruits and Veggies
A 1-cup serving of cooked kale contains approximately 1.17 milligrams of iron, or 6.5 percent of the daily required intake for a woman and nearly 15 percent of the requirement for a man. Raw kale contains slightly less, with 0.98 milligrams in every cup. The iron in vegetables like kale is non-heme iron, a form of iron that isn't easily absorbed by the body. You can increase the amount of iron you get from kale by eating it with a rich source of vitamin C, or by eating it along with meat. Try mixing kale into green salads that contain orange or grapefruit segments. Or, add sliced kale to beef soups that also contain tomatoes.
Serve it with Fish
Both raw and cooked kale contain about 95 to 100 milligrams of calcium in every 1-cup serving. To increase the amount of calcium your body absorbs, the Office of Dietary Supplements recommends eating calcium-rich foods with a source of vitamin D. Vitamin D-fortified dairy products and fish like salmon or mackerel are excellent sources of vitamin D. Get the most calcium out of your kale by serving it lightly steamed or sauteed as a side dish for broiled or grilled fish. For a meal that's even higher in calcium, mix chopped, blanched kale leaves into your favorite low-fat macaroni and cheese recipe.