Kale - The Superfood of the Garden
Kale, a type of non-heading cabbage or broccoli, is a member of the brassica family. In our, How to Grow Kale, Tricia shows us how to easy it is to grow kale in the garden. Kale comes in three basic varieties Scotch, Siberian and Bicolor. Scotch kales have grey-green leaves that are tightly curled and crumpled. Varieties include Lacinato and Scotch Blue Curled. Siberian kale has leaves which are blue-green and has smooth leaves with frilled edges. Examples include Siberian, White or Red Russian. All of these varieties are easy to grow, tasty and packed full of nutrition.
Which Kale to ChooseSo now you are sold on growing kale, which variety should you choose? Here is a short list of kale varieties and some qualities that may help you decide which one to choose:
- Red Russian – gourmet variety with red-purple veins, used in salads, cut and come again. Very mild, good in salads (see photo).
- Siberian – white stems with ruffled edges, hardy and fast growing. Mild flavor.
- Lacinato – also called Toscano kale or Dinosaur kale, thick crinkled leaves, grows to 48". Good for kale chips, very nice flavor (see photo below).
- White Russian – sister of Red Russian kale, moderately dissected leaves with white and green mid-veins. Mild taste.
- Ripbor – similar to Winterbor, more compact growth.
- Curly Roja – can be used as an ornamental or in an edible landscape.
- Scotch Blue Curled – one of the best frost resistant kales, finely curled leaves. Good in salads or for kale chips.
- Italian Tuscan Baby Leaf – fast growing, best tasting when picked small. Cut and come again.
- Portuguese Tronchuda Beira – more heat tolerant variety, paddle-shaped blue-green leaves, to 18", milder, sweeter flavor than other cole crops.
- Triple-Curled Dutch Darkibor – grows to 18", frilly leaves, mild and tender, good for kale chips or salads.
Health Benefits of Eating Kale
Kale is a superfood because it is packed full of nutrients. Just one cup of chopped kale contains 684% of the daily requirement of vitamin K, 206% of vitamin A and 134% of vitamin C! Kale also is packed full of antioxidants such as cartotenoids (lutein and zeaxanthin – help promote eye health, protect against cataracts and age-related macular degeneration) and flavonoids (more than 45) which have anti-cancer properties.
Just one cup contains 3 grams of dietary fiber and only has 36 calories! There are only a few drawbacks to eating a diet with kale. Because kale is high in vitamin K, which can interfere with blood thinning medications, you should consult a MD before eating a diet high in kale.
Check out our kale recipes on our resource page.
- Try Kale for Vitamin K and Cancer Protection – Tufts University
- New Year’s Resolution: Eat More Kale – Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
- Kale A Nutritional Powerhouse!! – NC State University Cooperative Extension