Is Kale Really a Superfood?

Leafy greens

Not long ago, kale was used to add some beauty to our lives. It was an attractive decorative plant that added color and texture to gardens and containers and could survive cold weather. It also served as a pretty bit of garnish on your plate. But what exactly makes kale a superfood?  


Kale's surprising popularity as a food today is due to its outstanding nutritional profile. It stands above all of the other green leafy vegetables because it’s packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Why is Kale so Healthy?

Kale is a member of the Brassica family of plants, a group known for their incredible nutrition. Other members of the Brassica family include: 

  • Cabbage 
  • Brussels sprout
  • Arugula
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Kohlrabi
  • Mustard greens
  • Collard greens
  • Pak Choi 
  • Radishes

All members of the Brassica family are incredibly healthy. These vegetables have a unique compound, sulforaphane, that is being researched for its possible use in fighting and preventing a number of diseases. And, they boast high levels of nutrition for very low calorie content.

Adding a serving of cruciferous vegetables to your day is a great way to boost your fiber intake.

How Does Kale Taste?

Kale is sweeter than some other greens like collards and mustard greens, so it’s also a great way to enjoy getting in your servings of green leafies. Unlike many other vegetables in your garden, frost won’t kill kale. In fact, it will make it sweeter and take some of the bitterness away. It’s the perfect winter crop and a way to get some garden goodness on your plate at a time of year when fresh flavor is hard to come by.

How to Prepare Kale

You can prepare kale much as you would any other green. It does well in salads, especially massaged with olive oil to break down some of the toughness. It also adds some texture and flavor to winter soups. Here are few of our favorite kale recipes:

One way to convince kids to eat kale is by making kale chips. Bake the leaves on low heat with a little drizzle of oil and seasoning. When the edges crisp up, pull them out and enjoy a delicious, healthy alternative to processed chips. 

If you’re wanting to add some nutritional punch to your garden, you can’t go wrong with kale. It’s attractive and tasty - especially in the wintertime. Other nutritional powerhouses like berries and tropical fruits are simply not easy to grow in many gardens in the continental United States, but kale is an easy-to-grow favorite that almost anyone can grow and enjoy. 

MSU Extension - Three dark, leafy greens that you can add to your menu today for nutritional benefits.

Written by Teresa Chandler

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