NPR : News

Filed Under:

Superfood Kale In The Limelight

What is it with kale? That's what one of our producers asked this week, after hearing about the "Eat More Kale" standoff between Vermont t-shirt maker Bo Muller-Moore and the fast-food chain Chick-fil-A. (Check this story on last night's All Things Considered for more details.)

It's true that kale seems to be enjoying a certain limelight these days, and not just because Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin was willing to say publicly, "Don't mess with kale."

Maybe it's because it's one of the only dark leafy green vegetables to break into the chip world. Pricey kale chips are suddenly being given prominent positions in upscale stores like Whole Foods. The dark leafy green is also creeping onto some unlikely restaurant menus — like an Olive Garden soup.

As Nancy Shute reported earlier this year, some farmers are now growing and selling several varieties of kale at once to meet demand: Scottish curly kale, red Russian kale and dark-leaved toscano, to name a few.

Why has kale gotten an edge on all the other dark leafy greens? Tamara Duker Freeman, a dietician and nutritionist with a fantastic blog called What I'm Eating Now, says kale scores a perfect 1,000 on the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index, a food-rating system that measures nutrients per calorie. "While I view the term 'superfood' with more than a healthy dose of skepticism (it's more of a marketing term than a nutrition term), I would be hard-pressed to come up with a food more deserving of the title," Duker Freeeman says of kale.

Nutritionally, kale has Vitamins K, A and C, and calcium and iron going for it. Kale's distinctive crunch is also likely to appeal to people of all ages, says Duker Freeman.

Kale's advantage might also be in its flavor. According to Kitchen Window contributor Susan Russo, kale and spinach are among the sweetest greens. Collards, meanwhile, are earthy and grassy, while turnip and mustard greens in contrast have a distinctively bitter flavor.

Though we may think of kale as a farmers' market item, it was originally a food of Europe and then of Africa. It's also been on Southern menus for centuries, along with collard greens. This is one reason a new African-American food pyramid has a prominent layer devoted entirely to greens: collards, chard, kale and spinach. And don't forget that sukuma wiki, kale or collards chopped fine and sauteed, is a staple in Kenya.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

How Photos Of Crisis Can Shape The Events They Represent

NPR's Rachel Martin talks with Kira Pollack, director of photography and visual enterprise at Time, about how iconic photos might affect the conversation about the events they have come to represent.
NPR

How Big Egg Tried To Bring Down Little 'Mayo' (And Failed)

Newly released emails from the American Egg Board reveal embarrassing details about its fight against the vegan product Just Mayo. Industry critics say the board's antics may have broken the law.
WAMU 88.5

Friday News Roundup - International

Hungary struggles to deal with thousands of migrants at a Budapest train station. World leaders react to news the Obama administration clears a hurdle on the Iran nuclear deal. And the king of Saudi Arabia makes his first official visit to Washington. A panel of journalists joins guest host Tamara Keith for analysis of the week's top international news stories.

NPR

How The Architect Of Netflix's Innovative Culture Lost Her Job To The System

Netflix is famous for pioneering a company culture that demands standout results from every employee. One of the architects of this philosophy ended up losing her job to the system she created.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.