Kale is one of the wild-growing species of the cabbage family, which is the ancestor of any cabbages. Until the late Middle Ages, this plant was considered one of the most common vegetables in all of Europe. Kale is often referred to as braunkol, grunkol or brunkol. By the way, Beijing, or as it is sometimes called Chinese cabbage, is also a species of the same leafy plant. But once kale was considered food exclusively for the poor, due to its availability and low prices.
The healing properties of such a plant were highly valued by the ancient Romans and Greeks. No one can say with certainty which country this vegetable comes from: in America it is often called “red Russian cabbage”, and in Russia it has been out of work for a long time, and only now it is gradually starting to regain its former popularity.
Appearance and varieties of kale
Kale differs from other species in the absence of a head. The appearance of some of its varieties is so beautiful that they are successfully used for decorative purposes to decorate household and summer cottages, gardens and orchards.
On the basis of a wild plant, scientists breeders have bred many different varieties that differ in the shape and color of the leaves, adaptation to survival in different climatic conditions, precocity and height. Moreover, it should be noted that initially leafy cabbage had the ability to grow in cold regions and withstood even the first frosts.
Now, thanks to the huge selection work done, some varieties can easily tolerate both thirty-degree heat and fifteen-degree frost.
The most common variety of kale is kale, or kale, of which there are two varieties, red and green.
Green, in turn, has emerald green lacy leaves that do not lose their bright color even after winter.
Both the red and green varieties of the vegetable are hardy and withstand frosts down to minus fifteen degrees Celsius. Such varieties ripen approximately two and a half months after seedlings are planted in the ground.
Siberian kale and kale premier are also not afraid of cold weather, and the former is quite successfully cultivated throughout Siberia, as well as in the Northern Urals. Such varieties are quite resistant to various diseases and resist pests well.
Curly kale, in addition to its decorative properties, also has a sweetish mild taste, which allows it to be used as food. Its leaves are smooth, unlike lacy relatives, ruffled along the edges of a luxurious purple color.
Black Tuscany has a greyish-green color and tuberculate leaves, while Tintoretto is great for harvesting for the winter, as it turns out to be richer, sweeter and more fragrant after freezing.
'Dino' is a rather tall variety with thin and long leaves.
"Redboro" is very reminiscent of a palm tree with maroon leaves. Often reaches a height of up to one and a half meters. This variety is absolutely not subject to frost, often you can cook it by barely shaking off a layer of snow.
The variety "reflex" has gray-green corrugated leaves and excellent taste. Differs in high productivity and average ripeness. In addition, this variety is one of the valuable ingredients in dietary and healthy nutrition.
Valuable composition and beneficial properties of the product
The beneficial properties of this amazing plant are due to its rich vitamin and mineral composition.
The mineral complex is represented by magnesium, calcium, potassium, copper, iron, phosphorus, zinc, sodium, selenium and manganese. There is more calcium in kale than in milk. At the same time, it is much better absorbed due to the absence of casein.
It also contains beneficial substances such as zeaxanthin and lutein, which protect the eyes from ultraviolet radiation, and also contains indole-3-carbinol, which prevents the formation and growth of cancer cells.
This vegetable also contains sulforaphane, which also has anti-cancer properties, plus an antibacterial effect. The plant contains a large amount of easily digestible vegetable protein, which contains most of the essential and all essential amino acids. It is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
The beneficial properties of the plant include:
- indispensable in vegan and vegetarian cuisine, as it is a complete substitute for meat dishes;
- useful in dietary and healthy eating;
- normalization of the functioning of the digestive tract, especially after protein diets;
- restore and improve vision;
- reduction of "bad" cholesterol ;
- affects blood clotting;
- has antitumor effects.
Such a vegetable contains a decent amount of vegetable fiber, which has a beneficial effect on the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract, prevents constipation and improves digestion. In addition, it contains substances that promote detoxification of the body at the cellular level, which significantly improves kidney and liver function.
Under the influence of iron, also contained in kale, the processes of synthesis of vital hormones: serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline take place. Also, this mineral raises the level of hemoglobin in the blood, which improves the access of active oxygen to all internal organs.
This plant has a beneficial effect on the body's immune system, increases its natural defenses. This is due to the content of beneficial antioxidants in it. The constant and systematic use of such a green vegetable promotes the synthesis of white blood cells, which prevent various types of bacteria and viruses from entering the body. And sulforaphane and ascorbic acid protect it from the effects of free radicals and harmful environmental factors.
Extremely high values of calcium and vitamin K in this vegetable are just a panacea for the skeletal system. These substances actively strengthen bones and prevent bone loss. Calcium without vitamin K is ineffective, since it is this vitamin that promotes its absorption in the bones, as well as its removal from body tissues, thereby preventing the development of calcification. It also acts as a converter of bone matrix proteins and significantly reduces the excretion of calcium in the urine.
B vitamins, together with homocysteine, prevent bone fragility, which significantly reduces the possibility of fracture. And omega fatty acids have a beneficial effect on the joints: lubricating them and restoring their flexibility.
Carotenoids, vitamin A, lutein, and zeaxanthin are natural sources of eye protection from UV radiation. Exorbitant levels of beta-carotene prevent the occurrence of cataracts in the elderly and prevent age-related macular degeneration.
Vitamin A also increases the production of visual pigment - rhodopsin, which contributes to the accumulation and storage of vitamins in the retina, and zeaxanthin has the ability to be absorbed into it, which significantly improves vision. Vitamin K has a beneficial effect on the processes of blood circulation and hematopoiesis, thereby effectively relieving inflammation.
Manganese, present in kale, normalizes the level of glucose in the blood plasma, so this vegetable is simply indispensable for diabetes. Moreover, the high content of vegetable fiber contributes to the normalization of lipid balance, lowering sugar, as well as correcting the level of insulin in the body.
With the occurrence of oxidative stress, as well as peripheral and autonomic neuropathy in diabetics, alpha-lipoic acid, an antioxidant found in kale, helps to cope.
Kale has absolutely no fat content and contains about eighty percent of water, which keeps the feeling of fullness in the stomach for a long time. Vitamin C significantly accelerates metabolic processes, which leads to effective weight loss. In addition, getting rid of extra pounds leads to a decrease in blood sugar and prevents the occurrence of diabetes.
Green cabbage contains chlorophyll, which helps to block the carcinogenic effects of heterocyclic amines, which is the prevention of malignant neoplasms. In addition, feces contain indole-3-carbinol, which reduces the growth of cancer cells and prevents the occurrence of cancer.
Such a vegetable has the ability to reduce the risk of heart disease, and potassium helps to normalize blood pressure and heart rate.
The same vitamin K is the prevention of diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, due to a positive effect on brain neurons. And omega fatty acids prevent damage to brain cells due to high sugar content.
Contraindications and harms of kale
No matter how wonderful this product is, it also has prohibitions on its use. It is not recommended to eat cabbage for those people who suffer from urolithiasis and cholelithiasis, as this vegetable contains oxalates. The increased content of vitamin K in vegetables will make it much more difficult to thin the blood.
Eating kale is sometimes a source of stomach and intestinal problems, and can cause flatulence, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps.
The detoxifying properties of the product juice often lead to severe debility.
Cultivation and use in cooking
Growing kale is not a laborious process and even a non-professional can do it.
To do this, you need:
- Sow the seeds in the soil obtained by mixing earth, sand and peat, and germinate until sprouts appear. Thin out the seedlings and plant them in open ground until they reach 80 days of age.
- The plant needs watering, hilling, loosening and fertilizing. If necessary, they are treated from pests.
- Leaves that can be eaten grow back in about a month and a half and can be safely cut off, as new ones will grow in their place.
- Kale is hardy and may not be harvested for the winter. It is enough to leave the roots in the ground, and next year there will be a crop again.
However, it is most useful fresh, as many of its valuable properties are lost during heat treatment.
In a healthy diet, it is used to make smoothies and green vegetable juices. It can be frozen for the winter, and the coarsest leaves are salted and pickled. Kale also makes delicious chips and lasagna.
These cabbages can be stored for up to two weeks in the refrigerator in a vacuum bag or plastic container. When choosing it in a store, pay attention to the fact that the leaves are not wilted and crushed, and also do not contain plaque or any inclusions.
Salad with kale and white beans
Separate the beans from the liquid. Cut the vegetables in any way, and tear the cabbage with your hands and mix everything with the beans. From oil, vinegar and spices, prepare the sauce and season the salad with it.
For cooking you will need:
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, then lower the temperature to 100. Tear the cabbage and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Pepper, salt and then drizzle with oil. Send a baking sheet to a preheated oven and dry until cooked, without completely closing the door.
Kale is a very valuable, healthy and beautiful product. It has long been used for ornamental and fodder purposes, but is now gradually regaining its place in cooking and nutrition. Its valuable composition makes kale practically a panacea for many diseases, and excellent taste qualities are successfully used in the cuisines of various countries. But do not forget that there are contraindications to the use of this product, so it will not be superfluous to consult a doctor before taking it.