Kale is often hailed as the superfood because of its high nutritional content and health-boosting abilities. Once considered as a lowly “paleo” cousin to spinach and other dark leafy greens, kale has long been used as a stand-in for more exotic greens in restaurants.
Since its nutrient-rich nature makes it a valuable food source, many people are starting to understand the health benefits of kale. While most varieties of this nutritious and versatile vegetable offer a similar nutritional profile, some research has shown that certain varietals can boast superior health benefits! Let’s explore the different types of kale and how you can enjoy its many advantages.
Red, Orange and Yellow Kale
These three varieties of kale are quite similar in terms of nutrients and phytonutrients. The main difference is in color, with red kale generally having higher levels of antioxidants. These natural nutrients act as small fighters in your body, battling and defending your health.
The bright orange and yellow varieties of kale are not as common as the other two, but they are highly prized for their beautiful color. These types of kale have been shown to have higher levels of vitamin A, and the pigment that gives them their distinctive color is called betalain. Vitamin A encourages bone formation and healthy vision, while betalain may offer protective qualities against asthma and arthritis.
Although they offer many similar benefits, the nutritional profile of each type of kale differs, so it’s important to try all three in your diet.
This variety of kale is typically grown in the US, and it is one of the more recent additions to the foodie world. Inspired by the popular sauce, pesto kale brings a bright burst of citrus and basil together in a smoothie-like dish. Like the real thing, this vegan alternative is easy to make and can be customized to fit any dietary need or taste.
Pesto kale is a hybrid cross between kale and cabbage, and it was developed to be more resistant to pests and disease. With a strong flavor all its own, this vegetable is highly nutritious and holds exceptional potential to heal the body and nourish the mind.
Green, Spring and Winter Kale
Green, spring, and winter kale are usually found in the same stores and supermarkets, and they all contain high levels of antioxidants. These nutrients help protect your DNA against damage caused by free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can lead to cell malfunction and premature aging. In general, winter kale has the most potent antioxidants, and green kale has the least amount.
These three varieties of kale can all be used in food preparation, from soups to stews and fried foods. The bright green of spring and winter varieties make them look and taste like spinach, while the duller green of the interior of winter kale makes it more akin to a collard green. You might say that green kale is the healthy choice when it comes to color, but as always, it’s all about what you eat together!
When shopping for these vegetables, make sure you look for those with thick, sturdy stems that will stay upright despite the weight of their leaves. Stalks that bend easily indicate that the vegetable will be more susceptible to pests and disease.
Purple, Red and Brown Kale
These are the king and queen of kale varieties when it comes to nutrients, boasting exceptionally high levels of antioxidants and anthocyanins. The anthocyanins present in this vegetable contribute to its antioxidant capacity, making it a powerful natural medicine for the human body.
Most often found in the produce section of supermarkets, the purple kale variety is also known as cavalo nero or dinosaur kale due to its resemblance to the former. While red and brown kale are becoming increasingly available in supermarkets, it is important to note that these varieties are more common in the produce section of specialty groceries or farmers’ markets. These shops are usually the best source for high-quality vegetables and fruits because they tend to work with local farmers, ensuring that their fruit and vegetable selections are fresh and organic. They also have access to a wider variety of plants and ingredients, so there is often more than one option to choose from when it comes to creating your perfect dish. This is why it is important to always check the “best by” date on all the vegetables and fruits you buy, as fresh ones tend to stay in great shape for longer and provide you with more nutrients.
Choosing The Right Places To Shop
Since most supermarkets carry a wide variety of vegetables, it is important to understand where you should and should not be shopping. You should not go to the supermarket every week, as this will deplete your stash of healthy food fast. Instead, take a look at what is on sale at the moment and plan your weekly shop around that. You can also ask the staff at the supermarket for advice about what varieties they have in stock at the moment and which ones are looking a bit past their best. You should also make sure to store fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator or at room temperature, so they do not go bad quickly. Finally, make sure to wash all fruits and vegetables before eating them, as this will help keep harmful substances at a minimum. Washing ensures that the nutrients in the food are not destroyed by pesticides or contaminated by excessive amounts of oil or salt. This is especially important for fruits and vegetables that you will cook or eat in a raw state, like tomatoes and cucumbers.
Now that you’re aware of the many benefits of kale, you can begin to incorporate this superfood into your diet regularly. Just make sure to shop for good quality vegetables and organic options whenever possible, as excessive amounts of pesticides can cause many adverse health effects. You can also grow your own kale in your garden or on a windowsill, helping to protect yourself from the polluting effects of pesticides and giving you full control over the ingredients that go into your diet. And did we mention that kale is pretty darn tasty when cooked right?!