Spring Seasonal Fruit and Vegetable Highlight: Kale

Benefits of YogaOur gastric sleeve surgery practice located in south florida has many patients seeking advice on nutrition and health post sleeve gastrectomy/gastric sleeve procedure. Kale is well known to be high in nutritional value and very popular with our gastric sleeve patients. Gastric sleeve patients thrive learning about various ways to use kale in their diet – from smoothies, shakes, salads and dinners.

Kale has become a hot commodity these days, especially in Florida when spring brings us a bounty of farm fresh vegetables. This leafy, green member of the cabbage family seems to be the latest hip vegetable that has been making its way into restaurants and recipes everywhere we look. Unlike other leafy greens, kale’s curly leaves and often blueish color set it apart in appearance. At just 33 calories per 1 cup of raw kale, it’s low in calories, but packs a powerful punch with its vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and high levels of antioxidants and phytochemicals. Many Florida local green markets and supermarkets have ample supplies of Kale.

Benefits of Kale

  • It’s high in dietary fiber, which can help you feel fuller for longer and helps your body regulate blood sugar, contribute to bowel regularity, and potentially help reduce cholesterol.
  • Lutein and zeaxanthin, which contribute to kale’s deep green coloring, can help protect against macular degeneration and cataracts.
  • Kale is a vegetarian source of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid.
  • It’s a good source of B-vitamin folate, which is essential for brain developement and especially important for pregnant women and those of child-bearing age.
  • Kale’s health promoting phytochemicals, such as sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol, appear to offer protection from prostate and colon cancer.
  • High levels of vitamin A are found in kale. Vitamin A is essential for eye health and vision, as well as skin and hair growth.
  • Vitamin K, which helps promote bone formation and strengthening, and also plays a role in limiting neuronal damage in the brain is plentiful in kale. However, vitamin K intake can affect anti-coagulant mediations, so kale should be avoided for those taking medications such as Warfarin.

How to Prepare Kale

  • Raw: Kale is great enjoyed raw in salads or in smoothies. Its thick leaves hold up to heavier salad dressings, chunky proteins, beans or legumes, and vegetables. Try it in place of lettuce in a ceasar salad. Or, toss some washed, raw leaves into your smoothie.
  • Sauteed: Add a little olive oil and toss in some onions and garlic, and viola. Adding kale to a stir fry is another delicious choice.
  • Baked: Bake kale in the oven by drizzling a little olive oil over lightly salted leaves to make a kale chip.
  • Soups: Toss some cut or shredded kale into soups and stews like white bean soup, minestrone, or pasta fagioli.