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03 lutego 2023

What should you know about Kale

Kale (Brassica oleracea L. var. acephala) – also known as “Borecole” form the Dutch word “Boetnekool” meaning “peasants” cabbage. It is a leafy green vegetable that produces a rosette of elongated leaves with wavy to frilled margins. The leaves are typically blue-green in color but can also be light green, red, or purple, depending on the variety. In a long growing season, the main stem reaches a height of 60 cm (24 inche) or more. The plant may be harvested by cutting off the entire rosette before the stem has elongated, or (especially in areas with long, cool growing periods) the individual lower leaves may be removed progressively as the main stem elongates. It is characterized by a sweat, slightly bitter taste, and an appearance like a mix of lettuce and Swiss chard.


Kale is one of the oldest leafy brassica vegetables. It originates from the eastern Mediterranean. During the first millennium, it arrived in Europe, where is settled in various cultures. Kale was not introduced to the USA until the early 1980’s, but since then has been marketed in grocery stores as different varieties and at various stages of maturity, packed as fresh food ready to eat or cook.


Kale ranks high on the list of the healthiest foods or super foods. In a study that developed a classification scheme defining “powerhouse” fruits and vegetables as food providing 10% or more of the daily value per 100 kcal of 17 qualifying nutrients, kale was ranked 15th out of the 47 foods that satisfied the powerhouse criterion. These “powerhouse” fruits and vegetables are strongly associated with reduced risk of heart disease and other non-communicable diseases.


Kale has high nutritional value. According to the USDA database, 100 grams of raw kale provide 2.9 g of protein, 4.4 of carbohydrates, 4.1 g of fiber and only 1.49 of lipids. In addition. It offers more iron (1.6mg/100g) than meat, 2-3 times more calcium (254mg/100g) than milk, 3-4 times more folic acid (241µg/100g) than eggs, and two times more vitamin C (93.4mg/100g) than oranges. More details appear in the table.




100g serving of fresh kale can provide following nutrients



89.6 g


43 kcal



Total lipid (fat)




Fiber, total dietary




Minerals (mg/100g)


Potassium (K)


Calcium (Ca)


Magnesium (Mg)


Phosphorus (P)


Sodium (Na)


Iron (Fe)


Zinc (Zn)


Manganese (Mn)


Copper (Cu)


Selenium (Se)

8 µg

Vitamins and other components:


Vitamin C





0.347 mg



Pantothenic acid


Vitamin B6


Folate, total

62 µg

Vitamin A,

241 µg

Carotene, beta

2870 µg

Cryptoxanthin, beta

27 µg

Lutein + zeaxanthin

6260 µg

Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)

0.66 mg

Vitamin E (tocopherol, gamma)


Vitamin K (phylloquinone)

390 µg



Kale has been widely used worldwide in traditional medicine to prevent and treat different health disorders, including gastric ulcer, high cholesterol levels, hyperglycemic, rheumatism and hepatic diseases. Kale shows antioxidant and anticarcinogenic potential. Its health-related benefits have been attributed to a great combination of bioactive phytochemicals, including glucosinolates, carotenoids, and phenolic compounds.


Study shows that kale juice supplementation resulted in substantial improvements in serum lipid profiles, especially with respect to HDL and LDL-cholesterol levels, the ratio of HDL- to LDL- cholesterol, and in antioxidant status of hypercholesterolemic men.


Another study shows that diet supplemented by kale can be beneficial for maintaining optimal blood pressure, blood sugar, and abdominal circumference in subjects with potential metabolic syndrome.


The high proportion of soluble and insoluble fiber and phytochemicals in kale may affect gut bacteria species composition and diversity, serve as a substrate for gut bacteria and result in the proliferation of beneficial bacteria taxa or metabolites that influence host cellular mechanisms.


Study shows that kale supplementation enhanced several bacterial metabolic functions, including glycan degradation, thiamine metabolism and xenobiotic metabolism. The findings provide evidence that kale is a functional food that modulates the microbiota and changes in inflammation phenotype. It was shown that whole kale has beneficial effects on the gut microbiome by increasing the bacterial diversity and proliferation of specific beneficial bacteria, such as Coriobacteriaceae. Furthermore, glycan degradation and vitamin B1 metabolism are enhanced by kale, and these have been shown to play an important role in attenuating inflammation.


Kale is a hardy leaf vegetable that can grow in tough winters. Its flavor is improved after it has weathered a few frosts. Although kale likes cooler weather it can still be grown in warmer climates during cooler months. In cooler areas, sow seeds outdoors in late spring for fall and winter harvesting. In warmer areas, sow seeds outdoors through early fall for late winter and spring harvests. You can ask a local nursery which varieties are best for your area. It grows well in semi-shady to moderately site, soil pH should be near 6.8. Create shallow drills as long as desired, spacing each drill out by about 2.5 feet. Plant seeds half inch deep and 2 feet apart within rows. Cover with a thin layer of soil and water regularly. During growth, handpick or hoe weeds out as they appear. Mulching helps deter weeds and holds in moisture.

Kale is a prefect container vegetable. It’s easy to grow, rarely bothered by pests. If you want to grow them for a salad mix, sow thickly and harvest the leaves when they are still young and tender, at four weeks or so. For a season- long crop, sow seeds in groups of three, ¼-1/2 inch deep, with the groups about eight inches apart. After emergence, thin with scissors to one plant per group. Kale needs supplemental feeding during the season with liquid fertilizer.


Although usually grown as an annual, kale is a biennial plant and produces yellow four-petaled flowers born in loose clusters in its second year.


Clip young leaves at four or five weeks old or let the plant grow for a couple of months and harvest larger leaves, letting the smaller ones remain for later harvest. Larger, tougher leaves are great for cooking.


Kale exhibits multiple varieties mainly differentiated by color shades, size and leaf type. Different shapes of the plant are available, including tree kale, marrow kale, thousand- headed kale and collard. There are a few types of kale available:


Lanciano or dinosaur kale – also called Toscano kale, Black leaf kale and black cabbage, has dark blue-green variety leaves that are long and flat and maintain their texture after cooking. It is less bitter than curly kale, which make it ideal for making kale chips.


Cury kale – the most commonly available type. It is bright green, dark green or purple in color. It has tight, ruffled leaves that are easy to tear.


Red Russian – it is a flat- leaf variety, with the stems qualifying as reddish purple, the leaves are blue green; it is sweeter and more delicate than other types, that makes it good in salads.


As was mentioned earlier kale is available throughout the year. Pick up only those that are fresh, tender and dark green. Avoid dry or yellowing leaves. Smaller-size leaves are not only easier to handle, but they are also more tender and have a milder flavor than those with large leaves. Kale should be stored in the refrigerator crisper wrapped in a damp paper towel or placed in a perforated plastic bag. Do not wash before storing. It can be kept in the refrigerator for several days, although it is best when eaten within one or two days. Cooked kale can be kept for two days refrigerated.


Green leaves of kale are a great addition for salad, smoothies or juices and can be also cooked. See next blog entry.


I hope you will enjoy!


If you have any questions, please let me know.


All the best,








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J., D. N. (2014). Defining powerhouse fruits and vegetables: A nutrient density approach. Preveting chronic diease- CDC.

Kim SY., Y. S.-K. (2008). Kale juice improves coronary artery disease risk factors in hypercholesterolemic men. Biomedical and environmental sciences 21, 91-97.

Kondo S., S. A. (2016). Intake of kale suppresses postprandial increases in plasma glucose: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study. Biomedical Reports, 553-558.

M., S. (2015). Dr. Earth home grown food health garden body. Vacaville, California: cedar House Press.

Migliozzi M., T. D. (2015). Lentil and kale: Complementary nutrient-rich whole food sources to combat micronutrient and calorie malnutrition. Nutrients, 9285-9298.

Murray M., P. J. (2005). The encyclopedia of healing foods. New York, London, Toronto, Sydney: Atria Books.

Ortega-Hernandez E., A.-R. M.-V. (2021, 10, 2629). Improving the health-benefits of kales (Brassica oleracea L. var. acephale DC) through the application of controlled abiotic stresses: A review. Plants.

Shahinozzaman M., R. S. (2021). Kale attenuates inflammation and modulates gut microbial composition and function in C57BL/6J mice with diet- induced obesity. Microorganisms.

Thavarajah D., S. N. (2019 9: 10374). Effects of cover crops on the yield and nutrient concentration of organic kale (Brassica oleracea L. var. acephala). Scientific Reports.

USDA. (2019, 4 1). Retrieved from Kale :



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