Pondering what side dishes to serve for the holidays? How about a chopped salad, cheesy gratin, or savory sauté featuring kale? Kale is popular with good reason: it was ranked 15th by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on a list of 41 "powerhouse" fruits and vegetables. The CDC defines a "powerhouse" food as one for which, on average, a 100-calorie serving contains 10% or more of the Daily Values of 17 nutrients known to strongly protect against heart disease. If you need further reasons to cook this verdant vegetable ASAP, here are a few details on its nutrient content:
- Vitamins A, C, and K. A ½-cup serving of kale provides all of the vitamin A and about half of the vitamin C you need daily. It also has more than six times the necessary daily amount of vitamin K.
- Phytonutrients. Kale is a source of numerous phytonutrients, including sulfur compounds, polyphenols, and carotenoids. Carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin, along with carotenes and other phytochemicals, contribute to kale’s color. Having higher blood levels of beta-carotene and lutein has been associated in some research with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. In addition, lutein and zeaxanthin accumulate in the eyes where they appear to help prevent oxidative damage that can lead to macular degeneration and cataracts.
Source: CDC - Preventing Chronic Disease