Monday, September 08, 2014


Kale is king for some

For several months, I have had an ongoing dialogue with my co-worker Jeff who just can’t understand my fondness for kale.  Everywhere you look there are recipes for kale.  It’s the featured new “wonder food” in gourmet magazines, health magazines, newspapers, and sports magazines.  He's not buying it. I tell him it’s called the “queen of greens.”  And for good reason.  Alison Lewis, writing for MindBodyGreen, touts some health benefits of kale:

•  Kale is low in calories, high in fiber and has zero fat. One cup of kale has only 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber and 0 grams of fat. It’s great for aiding in digestion and elimination with its great fiber content. It’s also filled with many nutrients, vitamins, folate and magnesium as well as those listed below.

•  It is high in iron. Per calorie, kale has more iron than beef. Iron is essential for good health, such as the formation of hemoglobin and enzymes, transporting oxygen to various parts of the body, cell growth, proper liver function and more.

•  Kale is great for the cardiovascular system. Eating more kale can also help lower cholesterol levels.

•  It is high in Vitamin A. Vitamin A is great for your vision, your skin as well as helping to prevent lung and oral cavity cancers.

•  The vegetable has lots Vitamin C. This is very helpful for your immune system, your metabolism and your hydration.

•  Last, but not least, kale is high in calcium. Per calorie, kale has more calcium than milk, which aids in preventing bone loss, preventing osteoporosis and maintaining a healthy metabolism. Vitamin C is also helpful to maintain cartilage and joint flexibility.

OK, my coworker is still not convinced.  He’s not impressed with this remarkable list of health benefits.  If he thinks it doesn’t taste good, he won’t eat it.  I was up for the challenge. He didn’t like sautéed kale or tomato and kale salad, so maybe it was time to bring out the big guns.  My husband and I took him out to a restaurant in Putnam that serves kale chips as an appetizer.  They were tender, crunchy, melt-in-your mouth tasty.  Surprise: Jeff didn’t like them, so I was forced to eat the whole bowl.

Over the past year our community dietitian has developed several presentations designed to encourage school-aged kids to try new, healthy foods.  Teenagers pose the biggest challenge: fresh vegetables are hardly a match for pizza, burgers, fries and soda.  However, when I recently asked some teens to honestly tell me if these programs have changed their taste for vegetables, I was thrilled when two of them replied, “I really love kale now.”  One even said she looks for recipes to make it in different ways.

I told Jeff about these teen kale converts, but he just laughed.  I concede that he will never be the “king of kale,” but I will keep trying.  He doesn’t know what he’s missing!

Alice Facente is a community health nurse for the Backus Health System. This advice should not replace the advice of your personal health care provider. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Ms. Facente or any of the Healthy Living columnists at 

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