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The Vegetable from the Fountain of Youth

“If you’re looking for the Fountain of Youth, kale may just be it!” Tom Gatto, a registered dietician, updates us on the nutritional powerhouse called kale. His discussion includes nutrient density, how to prepare it, and which vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants it contains, including how they enhance our health.

Dr. Michael H. Polcino commences: Today, everywhere you turn: “Kale! Kale! Kale!” I grew up in an Italian American home, and I had never heard of kale. I know escarole; I know broccoli rabe; I don’t know anything about kale. So today I asked a good friend of mine, Tom Gatto, who is a registered dietician, to come in and give us an update on kale, so let’s all learn about kale…

Nutrient Density

Tom Gatto first speaks about nutrient density: Kale can be referred to as a very nutrient-dense food. When we talk about foods in nutrition, there are nutrient-dense foods and there are energy-dense foods. Nutrient-dense foods contain an enormous amount of nutrition in the form of vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting compounds like antioxidants and phytochemicals.

Energy-dense foods are the opposite of nutrient-dense foods. They contain tremendous amounts of calories, energy, and very little nutrition, therefore, very little vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting compounds.

One cup of cooked kale only contains 33 calories and is loaded with all different vitamins and minerals. Eating kale on a consistent basis, along with other nutrient-dense foods, can also help you lose weight. Nutrient-dense foods are often extremely filling; they make you feel full more quickly, so you are less likely to eat too much during your meal.

On the other hand, common energy-dense foods most Americans overeat are pizza, soda, potato chips, candy, and cakes. These foods are very easy to overdo and can certainly expand our waistlines in a hurry. So if you are looking for a nutrient-dense food to help you feel better and potentially reduce your waistline, start eating more kale today.

Vitamins, Minerals, and Antioxidants

The question now is, what vitamins and minerals is kale rich in? First, kale is extremely rich in vitamin A. Vitamin A is well-known for its role in promoting optimal eye health. Vitamin A is also extremely important for your immune system.

Kale is also extremely rich in Vitamin K. Vitamin K is well-known for its ability to help your blood to clot. Secondly, Vitamin K is known for its ability to help build strong bones. So eating more Vitamin K will help increase your bone mineral density, which will make your bones stronger and less likely to break or fracture. This becomes extremely important as we begin to age.

Kale is rich in many different minerals such as potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and copper. All of these minerals play different roles inside the human body, but they are all essential for helping us to maintain our best health.

Lastly, kale is also extremely rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants is a hot term in the world of health and nutrition. Before we discuss what antioxidants are, we must first discuss what the word “oxidation” means, or really, “oxidative damage.” If you have ever witnessed rust develop on a piece of metal or sliced open an apple and seen the inside of it turn brown once it was exposed to the air, the process of oxidation is what you were witnessing.

Oxidation or oxidative damage also takes place inside our bodies. This is normal for the aging process. In other words, there is always some degree of oxidation taking place. Antioxidants help prevent the process of oxidation from occurring.

Kale is extremely rich in two antioxidants. One being Vitamin C, which is found in almost every fruit and vegetable, and two being beta-carotene. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants has been linked to a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease along with a reduced risk of developing many different types of cancers. Additionally, these antioxidants can help you look and feel younger. If you prevent excessive oxidation from occurring inside your body, you are more likely to look youthful as you age.

As you can see, kale is loaded with good nutrition from vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting antioxidants. If you are looking for the Fountain of Youth, kale may just be it.


Kale can be prepared in a similar way as other dark leafy vegetables are prepared. First, feel free to sauté it in garlic and oil like you would for broccoli and spinach. Or if you would like to steam it, you could certainly do that.

If you are looking for a quick and easy healthy snack, kale chips can be a real super treat. Simply take kale, put it on a baking sheet, and then add a little salt, pepper, and olive oil. Next, bake the kale in the oven until it becomes crispy, much like the texture of a potato chip. These snacks are much healthier than the conventional store-bought potato chips.

Kale can be thrown into any soup, along with any other vegetable. You can create any type of cold kale salad, using any other fruit or vegetable. Kale can be mixed with another popular grain, quinoa, which has also gained notoriety in the recent years.

If you are someone that has tried kale and really does not care for the way it tastes, or is not a big vegetable eater to begin with, a great way to increase your intake of kale or any other food or vegetable is to purchase a juicer or blender. You can then create a juice or a smoothie using kale and other fruits or vegetables.

As you can see, kale is a nutritional powerhouse. If you are looking to improve your health, it would be wise to start eating more kale today!

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