Posted by Christa Knox
Kale is so much more than a passing fad. Packed with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and cancer-fighting compounds, kale truly is a super food. Kale is easy to incorporate into any diet: you can put it in salads, smoothies, soups, juices, or make kale chips.
Kale contains an incredible amount of vitamin K, which is needed for the clotting of blood and bone health among other numerous biological processes. Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin, so to maximize its absorption, pair it with a healthy fat such as olive oil, salmon, avocado, or nuts/seeds. And add some lemon. The acid from lemon juice helps make kale’s iron more readily available. Make sure to pull the leaves off of that thick stem first, and to soften it up, you can massage it with olive oil to break down the tough fibers.
A word of caution: Because kale is very high in vitamin K, if you are taking blood thinning or anti-coagulant drugs, such as warfarin (brand name Coumadin), you need to avoid large amounts of kale.
Kale juice has been shown to improve coronary artery disease risk in men with high cholesterol. Coronary artery disease is a risk factor for stroke, as is diabetes, which raises your risk of stroke two to four times over people who do not have diabetes. And, you guessed it, kale can help with blood sugar issues. A 2016 study found that eating kale can slow blood sugar rises after a meal. The study showed benefit from eating just one to two leaves.
Did you know that gram for gram, kale has more than twice the vitamin C as an orange? Vitamin C from the foods you eat is associated with a lowered risk of stroke, as it is a strong antioxidant, which can slow the progression of atherosclerosis. The anti-inflammatory benefits from kale are especially important as inflammation is involved in stroke risk.
How are you going to serve kale? Here’s one of my favorite ways:
Green Monster Smoothie
1 c. Liquid base (coconut water, almond milk, coconut milk, milk)
Four kale leaves, pulled from stems
Handful of fresh/frozen blueberries
1 Tbsp. maple syrup, honey, or 1 date (only if you need a sweetener)
3-5 ice cubes
Power It Up
1 Tbsp. ground flaxseed
1 scoop protein powder
1 Tbsp. almond/nut butter
Blend liquid and kale on high, until liquified. Add other ingredients, and blend on high.
Christa Knox, MA, MScN, is a stroke survivor and holistic nutritionist in Portland, Ore. Visit Christa’s website BrainFoodForThought.com.