Kale, collard greens, turnip greens, and mustard greens are nutritionally supercharged and bursting with plant chemicals that medical studies indicate we should consume to prevent cancer, heart disease, and even vision problems.
Ruffly bluish-green kale leads the leafy group in phytochemicals -- the substances that give plants color, flavor, and health-boosting abilities. Researchers are constantly uncovering more health benefits of these plant chemicals. For instance, the hefty load of lutein in kale is linked to a reduced risk of eye problems. Other components of kale make it a cancer-fighting vegetable, especially against cancers of the colon, stomach, lung, and breast. Kale also is high in vitamin A, has almost as much calcium as milk, and contains a burst of potassium.
Before cooking kale, wash it well. Soil likes to hide amid its ruffles. Remove tough stems, and cook leaves in a bit of boiling broth or salted water until tender -- two to four minutes -- before using in a recipe. Serve cooked kale in soups, tossed with garlic-flavored olive oil and a splash of vinegar.
Continued on page 2: Greens and Lutein