Kale, the plant with a great antioxidant potential

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In the autumn and winter season, it is worth taking care of diversifying your daily diet. Kale is great for culinary experiments, and at the same time is a rich source of vitamins and microelements. Kale (Brassica oleracea L. var. Sabellica L.) is a plant belonging to the brassica family. It has the highest nutritional value of all cruciferous vegetables. It is characterized by high resistance to low temperatures, so we can also harvest it in winter.

Nutritional values of kale

It contains the most potassium (530 mg), iron (1.7 mg) and calcium (157 mg). Its composition includes a high content of certain vitamins in 100 g of edible parts, such as: vitamin A (859 μg), β-carotene (5350 μg), vitamin E (1.7 mg) and C (120 mg), vitamin B1 (0 11 mg), B2 (0.2 mg), and niacin (1.6 mg). Protein makes up 3.3% and dietary fiber 3.9% of the plant's weight.

The antioxidant potential of kale

Kale is high in polyphenols, including flavonoids, sulforaphane and anthocyanins. The content of these compounds, as well as antioxidant vitamins, gives the plant a high antioxidant potential. The value of the total antioxidant potential of plant products per 100 g of fresh weight of the product is expressed in ORAC units. For kale, its value is 1770 units. The greater the product's ability to neutralize free oxygen radicals, the greater its ORAC number. Consuming 100 g of kale provides more than half of the recommended daily amount of ORAC units. Including kale in your diet, due to its high antioxidant potential, contributes to the reduction of oxidative stress. As a result, the body is protected against the adverse effects of free radicals, which are the basis of modern civilization diseases.
It should be noted that kale has the highest content of carotenoids among all brassicas, especially ß-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. Additionally, it contains significant amounts of glucosinolates. They are characteristic metabolites of cruciferous plants, which have properties supporting the synthesis of enzymes responsible for the elimination of carcinogenic substances from the body. One study found that increased consumption of cruciferous vegetables, including kale, can reduce the risk of developing cancers of the stomach, colon, anus, and lungs.
Remember that the content of individual ingredients beneficial to health in kale may significantly differ depending on the variety and place of cultivation.

The most popular varieties of kale

• Curly kale (notched)
This is the most common variety of kale. It comes in light or dark green colour. We can recognize it by curly leaves and hard, fibrous stems and a slightly bitter taste. The younger the kale leaves, the more delicate their flavour.
• Scarlet kale
This is a variety of kale with purple-purple leaves. Due to its colour, it is perfect as an ornamental plant.
• Tuscan Kale, Cavolo Nero or Black Cabbage
This variety has long and narrow leaves in dark green or blue-green colour. Tuscan kale has an intense, slightly sweet, nutty flavour. The leaves are slightly wrinkled and their structure is tight.

Cooking with kale

Kale goes perfectly with root vegetables, seafood, pork, fish, nuts, oyster mushrooms and game. There are many ways to prepare kale. It tastes perfect raw (after cutting the harder stalks) when added to a salad with apple, almonds and lemon juice. A healthy and popular snack is kale chips, baked in the oven with a bit of chilli oil and salt. Another possibility is to prepare a pesto or a kale-based green cocktail.

Exemplary recipes using kale

Quinoa with roasted apple and kale
Ingredients:
• Apple 220 g (1 large piece)
• Kale 50 g (2 handfuls)
• Quinoa, quinoa 50 g (1/4 cup)
• Coconut oil 5 g (1 teaspoon)
• Hazelnuts 15 g (half a handful)
• Pinch cinnamon seasoning
• Seasoning a pinch clove
• A pinch of thyme seasoning
Preparation:
1. Cook the quinoa.
2. Wash the kale and chop finely, dice the apple into 1 cm cubes.
3. Heat the oil in a frying pan; add apples, nuts and kale.
4. Season with cinnamon and cloves. Stir for about 2 minutes, until the apples and kale are slightly soft.
5. Finally, mix with quinoa and season with thyme.

Buckwheat groats with kale
Ingredients:
• Chickpeas cooked without salt 80 g (4 tablespoons)
• Kale 50 g (2 handfuls)
• Buckwheat groats 50 g (5 tablespoons)
• Cashew nut 15 g (1 tablespoon)
• Lemon juice 5 g (1 teaspoon)
• Onions 40 g (1/3 pieces)
• Garlic 3 g (1 clove)
• Universal rapeseed oil 5 g (1 teaspoon)
Preparation:
1. Boil groats.
2. Chop the onion.
3. Tear the kale into smaller pieces and pour hot water over it, wait 1 minute.
4. Pour in cold water.
5. Chop the nuts and roast them in a pan.
6. Mix the groats with the rest of the ingredients.
7. Season to taste.
8. Squeeze the garlic through the press.
9. Mix it with the oil and lemon juice.
10. Pour the finished sauce over the dish.

Orange and pineapple shake with kale
Ingredients:
• Fresh pineapple 60 g (2 slices)
• Kale 40 g (2 handfuls)
• Orange 150 g (1 piece)
• Water 220 g (1 glass)
Preparation:
1. Peel the fruit and cut into pieces.
2. Mix all ingredients with a high speed mixer.
3. Pour into a tall glass.

Summary

Kale is a vegetable of very high nutritional value. It is worth including it permanently in your diet, due to the content of vitamins and minerals, high antioxidant potential, as well as a large amount of polyphenols and glucosinolates. Regular consumption of kale can be used in the prevention and treatment of civilization diseases, including cancer and cardiovascular diseases.


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