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Nutritional Kale

ritau
09-04
Kale, or leaf cabbage, belongs to a group of cabbage (Brassica oleracea) cultivars grown for their edible leaves, although some are used as ornamentals. Kale plants have green or purple leaves, and the central leaves do not form a head (as with headed cabbage). Kales are considered to be closer to wild cabbage than most of the many domesticated forms of Brassica oleracea.

Kale originated in the eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor, where it was cultivated for food beginning by 2000 BCE at the latest. Curly-leaved varieties of cabbage already existed along with flat-leaved varieties in Greece in the 4th century BC. These forms, which were referred to by the Romans as Sabellian kale, are considered to be the ancestors of modern kales.

The earliest record of cabbages in western Europe is of hard-heading cabbage in the 13th century. Records in 14th-century England distinguish between hard-heading cabbage and loose-leaf kale.

Russian kale was introduced into Canada, and then into the United States, by Russian traders in the 19th century. USDA botanist David Fairchild is credited with introducing kale (and many other crops) to Americans, having brought it back from Croatia, although Fairchild himself disliked cabbages, including kale.At the time, kale was widely grown in Croatia mostly because it was easy to grow and inexpensive, and could desalinate soil. For most of the twentieth century, kale was primarily used in the United States for decorative purposes; it became more popular as an edible vegetable in the 1990s due to its nutritional value.

During World War II, the cultivation of kale (and other vegetables) in the U.K. was encouraged by the Dig for Victory campaign. The vegetable was easy to grow and provided important nutrients missing from a diet because of rationing.



Many varieties of kale and cabbage are grown mainly for ornamental leaves that are brilliant white, red, pink, lavender, blue or violet in the interior of the rosette. The different types of ornamental kale are peacock kale, coral prince, kamone coral queen, color up kale and chidori kale. Ornamental kale is as edible as any other variety, but potentially not as palatable. Kale leaves are increasingly used as an ingredient for vegetable bouquets and wedding bouquets.

Raw kale is composed of 84% water, 9% carbohydrates, 4% protein, and 1% fat (table). In a 100 g (3 1⁄2 oz) serving, raw kale provides 207 kilojoules (49 kilocalories) of food energy and a large amount of vitamin K at 3.7 times the Daily Value (DV) (table). It is a rich source (20% or more of the DV) of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate, and manganese. Kale is a good source (10–19% DV) of thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, vitamin E and several dietary minerals, including iron, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus. Boiling raw kale diminishes most of these nutrients, while values for vitamins A, C, and K, and manganese remain substantial.

Kale is a source of the carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin. As with broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, kale contains glucosinolate compounds, such as glucoraphanin, which contributes to the formation of sulforaphane, a compound under preliminary research for its potential to affect human health.

Boiling kale decreases the level of glucosinate compounds, whereas steaming, microwaving or stir frying does not cause significant loss. Kale is high in oxalic acid, the levels of which can be reduced by cooking.

Kale contains high levels of polyphenols, such as ferulic acid, with levels varying due to environmental and genetic factors.
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