Some call it the world’s healthiest food, others refer to it as a super food. Either way, kale is a leafy green all athletes should incorporate into their diets.
Kale is in the cruciferous family of vegetables, along with broccoli and cabbage. It is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C and manganese, as well as fiber, copper, tryptophan, calcium, vitamin B6, potassium, iron, magnesium, vitamin E, omega-3 fats, vitamin B2, protein, vitamin B1, phosphorus and vitamin B3. One cup of steamed kale contains all of these nutrients and only 36 calories! It’s no wonder why for years, vegetarians and vegans have been praising the benefits of kale.
1. Kale has three major benefits: antioxidant nutrients, anti-inflammatory nutrients and anti-cancer nutrients. The high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin K in kale give it good anti-inflammatory agents. One cup of kale has 10 percent of the recommended daily allowance of omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, vitamin K also helps promote bone health and prevent blood clotting, and has also been linked to helping protect against various cancers and combat Alzheimer’s disease.
2. For those who are avoiding dairy, kale gives you more calcium than milk! This helps prevent bone loss and promotes a healthy metabolism. Couple that with kale’s vitamin C and you can keep your joints flexible and healthy cartilage for years to come.
3. Kale is high in iron, something more women can use a little more of in their diets. In fact per, kale— per calorie— has more iron than beef. Iron is essential in the creation of hemoglobin and enzymes. These help transport oxygen through the body and help with cell growth and proper liver function.
4. Not convinced yet? Kale is a powerful detox food. The fiber and sulfur serve as powerful natural detoxing tools. It can help reverse the daily stresses we put on our bodies and keep your liver functioning at its highest levels.
How to Eat
Most experts agree the best way to maximize nutrients in kale is to steam it for five minutes. Others will say eat it raw mixed into a salad. A favorite way to cook it is with a little olive oil and garlic and sauté it in a pan for a few minutes. It also goes great scrambled into your morning eggs; add a little hot sauce to that and it’s guaranteed to become a favorite new breakfast.
So give this nutritional powerhouse a try! At first kale can be an acquired taste for some, but once you have tried it a few times you will be adding it to all your meals.
That’s the dirt for this week. Next week we bring you more ways to get you performing at your best, on and off the course.