Kale (Brassica oleracea) is a member of the Brassicaceae (Mustard) Family, making it a relative of broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. Native to Asia Minor, it is considered the closest relative to wild cabbage. The species name, oleracea means, “a garden herb used in cooking.”
Kale and collards are very similar, but kale often has curly leaves, and where collards thrive in warmer climates, kale survives best in a cooler one. Flowering kale is edible, but not as tender as other varieties. Kale is one of the easiest vegetables to grow.
Kale benefits the stomach and calms lung congestion. It has been used to treat constipation, obesity, dental problems, pyorrhea, arthritis, gout, skin disorders, ulcers and to rejuvenate the liver. All members of this family contain antioxidant indoles, which protect against colon, breast and lung cancer. Kale also has antibiotic and antiviral properties.
Kale is considered warming. Its flavor is sweet with a slightly bitter-pungent flavor, similar to cabbage. Kale is rich in calcium, iron, potassium, sulfur, beta-carotene, vitamin C, folic acid, and chlorophyll. One cup of kale has more calcium than one cup of milk.
Select tender, dark green, or even bluish-green leaves, avoiding those that are yellowed. Kale can be added to vegetable juices, chopped fine and added to salads as well as steamed, stir fried or made into soup. As some people with an overly acidic condition may find that kale is intestinally cleansing and can cause flatulence, the addition of a bit of ginger, cumin or caraway can prevent this.