Adding the SuperFood Kale to Your Diet

March 28, 2013

Adding SuperFoods to Your Diet can be easy and fun

Every time I see an $8 package of Kale Chips at the local health food store, I’m tempted to buy them. But I don’t.  A bunch of Kale typically costs about $1.50, so why would I pay an extra $6.50 for the privilege of eating it out of a plastic box?  The trendy vegetable has gotten a lot of press lately, so I decided to find out why.

I decided to begin by whipping up a batch of the crunchy power food. The Food Network had several recipes, and I chose the parmesan-lime variety. YouTube added another dimension and I was able to get a kitchen-eye-view on the “how to” of making kale chips. I have to say, they turned out to be a delicious and guilt-free alternative to potato chips. The only thing to be cautious of as you’re munching away is the tendency for the kale to get caught in your teeth. A green flecked smile isn’t that cool unless it’s, maybe, St. Patrick’s Day.

I asked Certified Nutrition Coach, Susan Lampropoulous to tell me why Kale is all the rage among the health conscious these days. Here’s what she had to say:

“Kale is considered a “superfood” — one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables you can eat. The thing that’s great about Kale is that it offers benefits whether cooked or raw.

Whether cooked or raw, Kale is a great source of fiber — and who can’t use more fiber that doesn’t taste like cardboard!

More importantly, even though it looks like a leafy green, Kale actually a cruciferous vegetable related to broccoli and offers the same anti-cancer effects. The powerful cancer-fighting chemical contained in Kale is released by chewing it thoroughly or by chopping it a bit before putting into a salad. It is mostly destroyed, however, when it’s cooked. So, for cancer protection, add some chopped kale to your salads a few times each week.

Though its cancer-fighting properties are weakened by cooking, it is still a power-house of minerals when cooked (or raw). Like spinach, Kale is a potent vegetarian source of calcium.

Unlike spinach, though, it is much lower in oxalates. This is important for two reasons: 1)oxalates can be a cause of kidney stones for some people, and 2)oxalate binds to calcium, which means that the calcium in kale is much more bio-available than the calcium in spinach. Plus, kale contains the other co-nutrients we need for our bodies to properly use the calcium.  So, toss the calcium supplements and eat some kale a few times a week — it’s a much more effective and tasty way to fight osteoporosis!”

Words of Caution

Kale has a large concentration of Vitamin K and can cause problems for patients who take blood thinners because it promotes clotting. Kale also contains oxalates, which has been associated with kidney stones and some gallstones in laboratory tests.

Raw kale can be hard on the digestive system and can suppress thyroid function for some people. For these reasons, it’s probably best not to eat or drink raw kale more than once or twice a week. Eating the veggie cooked isn’t a problem for most patients. Of course, if you are taking medications you may want to check with your doctor for specific advice on your dietary habits.

Dr. Jeffrey Gold is an award winning ophthalmologist and surgeon who practices at Liberty Vision in Hamden CT. He is a leader in the field of Laser Vision Correction, specializing in epi-LASIK.

Susan Lampropoulos is a Certified Health Coach, educated at the Institute for Integrated Nutrition and can be reached at Sue lives in Orange CT with her husband and two kids.