While there’s no official definition of the term superfood, the generally implied idea is a fruit or vegetable that is particularly nutritious and beneficial to your overall health and wellness, with high phytonutrient content. By that definition, kale should have a spot in the top ten. If you want to be healthy, there’s no avoiding the leafy green vegetables, and kale is one of the most nourishing. It is a good source of calcium, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, iron, folic acid, amino acids, antioxidant flavonoids, and lutein. It is easy to prepare, versatile, and delicious.
Conversely, environmentalists cite meat production as one of the top ten contributors to climate change. There are 7 billion people on the planet and 55 billion large animals that are raised for food each year making lots of waste and stretching resources. Which is why the famous author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan, suggested “Meatless Mondays” in the first place. He says, “By departing even modestly from the Western diet, we could reduce our chances of getting coronary heart disease by 80%, type 2 diabetes by 90%, and colon cancer by 70%.”
So eating meat sparingly, as a side-dish, is good for your body, your pocketbook, and the environment.
Some comparisons between beef and kale:
Organicauthority.com’s Jill Ettinger had these reasons to try kale:
1. Sustainability. Kale grows to maturity in 2 months. Meat cattle mature between 18 – 24 months of age. One pound of beef takes 2400 gallons of water and 16 pounds of grain.
2. Anti-inflammatory. The consumption of animal proteins is a major cause of autoimmune disease, heart disease and arthritis. The nutrients in kale make it anti-inflammatory. It is so nutrient-dense is can actually reverse some of these conditions.
3. Iron. Per calorie, kale has more iron than beef.
4. Fiber. Needed daily, few Americans get enough. Ongoing fiber deficiency is linked to many diseases, including digestive disorders, cancers, and heart disease. Most Americans get their protein from animal sources, which provide no fiber. Kale provides about 5% of the RDI per serving, along with two grams of protein.
5. Calcium. Despite high consumption of beef and dairy products in this country, we still have some of the highest rates of bone loss and bone health problems (such as osteoporosis) in the world. Kale has a more bio-available form of calcium than dairy, and contains more calcium per calorie than milk. It also has magnesium, which is necessary to use calcium.
6. Omegas. Mainstream meat products do not have the essential fatty acids we need for good health. Each serving of kale has more than 120mg of omega-3 fatty acids and more than 90mg of omega-6 fatty acids.
7. Immunity. Kale is a rich source of vitamins and minerals that nourish and support the liver, aid digestion and help to naturally detox the body. Factory farm meats and dairy products only lend to the scary and growing problem of Superbugs and resistant bacteria.
Tips for adding kale to your diet
Kale is considered a winter crop, even though it is available year round. The cold makes it sweeter; if it wilts or turns brown it may become bitter. It is easy to grow yourself. There are several varieties of kale: the most common is green (curly-leaf) kale, dinosaur kale and red Russian. The smoother leafed varieties are milder in taste.
Store kale for a week in the crisper, but remember that it gets stronger as it is stored. To store longer, wash, dry, mince or chop (pitch tough stems), and freeze. It thaws quickly and can be used like raw kale.
Eat kale raw, in a salad, use it as a wrap, or juice it or add it to a smoothie. Kale can be blanched, boiled, braised, sauteed, steamed or stir-fried. People prepare it in a similar manner to chard or collards: season with brown rice or umeboshi vinegar, soy sauce, tamari or sesame oil, to name a few. Substitute for spinach or cabbage in recipes.
If taste is an issue: mince finely and add to recipes, like parsley. Stir into bean, egg, pasta, potato, tuna, vegetable salads or soups, stews and sauces. Sprinkle on pizza; stir into scrambled eggs, lasagna, burritos or quesadillas; the list is endless. It will add color and nutrition to most anything.