Everything You Need to Know About Kale

What is kale?

Kale has been dubbed as the “Superfood of the Century” and “The King of All Vegetables.” And for good reason, too. It belongs to the family of leafy green vegetables, the Cruciferous Family, which is notorious for being packed with nutrients, vitamins and minerals. (Harrigan, 2018)

Kale is a hard, leafy green that is usually eaten raw and is served in salads. It is also scientifically known as Brassica oleracea, and is botanically considered to be a cabbage. Kale comes in a lot of varieties. There is the curly leaf Kale, and the one with flat leafs called the Lacinato (or Tuscan) kale. (What is kale?)

While kale did not become popular until 2013, when it suddenly became the food of choice for food bloggers that it started replacing other leafy greens in salads and even appeared as the main component of snack products. (Kale)

Today, we will be learning about everything there is to know about kale. Including its benefits, where it is found, how it is cultivated, the possible substitutes to kale, as well as the various recipes that incorporate kale. 

What health benefits can I get from kale?

As mentioned earlier, kale is considered to be the Superfood of the Century. It is extremely dense in nutrients and has a lot of health benefits. The following are the various health benefits that you can get from incorporating kale into your daily diet. 

1. Kale is the most nutrient-dense food on the planet

A single cup of chopped raw kale (roughly about 67 grams or 2.4 ounces) contains 206% of the daily value (DV) for vitamin A, 684% of the DV for vitamin K, 134% of the DV for vitamin C, 9% of the DV for vitamin B6, 26% of the DV for manganese, 9% of DV for calcium, 10% of the DV for copper, 9% of the DV for potassium, 6% of the DV for magnesium, as well as 3% of DV for vitamin B1, vitamin B2, iron and phosphorous. (Kale, raw)

Just look at those numbers! One cup of kale can already make you attain your daily goal of vitamins A, K and C. 

Read: Health Benefits of Alugbati

2. Kale is loaded with antioxidants

A study published in 2012 has concluded that kale had good nutritional value and has shown to have a high antioxidant activity. These antioxidants include beta-carotene, vitamin C, polyphenols and flavonoids. Specifically, kale contains the flavonoids kaempferol and quercetin. (Olsen H, 2009)

Antioxidants promote a healthy wellbeing by preventing oxidative stress to cells, promoting anti-inflammatory capabilities and promoting a healthy cardiovascular system. (Antioxidants, 2012)

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3. Kale is an excellent source of vitamin C

As mentioned earlier, a cupful serving of kale contains 134% of the DV for vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential to the body. It boosts the immune system to fight against viruses and pathogens, as well as participating in the growth and development and repair of body tissues. Vitamin C is also important in the maintenance of bones, cartilage and teeth and aids in the easy absorption of iron. (Zelman, 2010)

Read: 10+ Amazing Health Benefits of Mustasa

Where can I buy kale in the Philippines?

Kale is one of the Cruciferous Vegetables that do not easily grow in the Philippines. It is not naturally found in the wild, and is therefore, not a native plant to the Philippine island. Having originated from Europe and usually grows during the winter season, kale is not normally farmed in the Philippines. (Anonymous, 2014)

Thankfully because of the high demand for kale and advanced farming techniques, kale has successfully made its way to the Philippine supermarkets. Although it is still definitely not as popular as its other cabbage relatives, the availability of kale is slowly getting there. (Anonymous, 2014)

These are the various places from which you can get kale when you are from Manila, according to the blogspot blog of eBuyers Guide Philippines: (Anonymous, 2014)

1. Farmer’s Market Cubao, near the Dampa side

Pro tip: It’s better to go kale-hunting early in the mornings on a weekday. 

2. Healthy Options

3. Benguet University Stall at the Centris Market

4. Online options: 

  • GreenFresh Organic Farm through their Instagram and Facebook
  • The Green Grocer Manila
  • SugarLeafPH through their Instagram

If you are not from Manila, and are near Baguio, I am certain that I have bought kale from one of my vegetable trips there. It was a summer, however, when cabbage season is at peak, and the remnants of the cold air from February through March is what grew the kale. 

I don’t think SM Supermarket offers kale in their vegetable aisles as I have never seen it there, personally. However, if you have, it would be helpful if you inform us about your kale encounter. 

Is there a kale farm in the Philippines?

The most common Cruciferous vegetables from the cabbage family in the Philippines are cauliflowers, broccolis, cabbages, Chinese cabbage (“pechay”), and mustard. Kale is not on this list, unfortunately. This is because kale requires a somewhat cold climate to grow in. (Tan, 2018)

However, as per a result of our research, we have found out that there are actually two kale farms in existence located in the Philippines, especially in Region IV-A (commonly known as CALABARZON Region). There is the Kalye Luntian farm located in Alfonso, Cavite and the Costales Nature Farms in Majayjay, Laguna. (Tan, 2018)

Kalye Luntian grows kale, while Costales Nature Farms grows the Chinese counterpart of kale, kai-lan, also known as the Asian Superfood. Costales Nature Farms is a certified organic farm that grows kale for its two buyers. They grow it in open or as rotational crop in the greenhouses. One of these two buyers is a leading fresh agri-produce consolidator in the country, that distributes and sells kai-lan under its own brand. The remaining one of these two buyers is a number one wellness chain which prides itself in selling organic meat, eggs, pork and vegetables. This buyer markets the kale under the “I love organic” label. (Tan, 2018)

Read: 10+ Surprisingly Health Benefits of Lettuce

Can kale grow in tropical climates?

The question remains to be asked; does kale grow in tropical climates? Despite being a cold crop, it has been tried and tested – kale does grow on tropical climates. This is also proven to be truthful by the existence of the two kale farms in CALABARZON. In Singapore, also, Kale is being grown and sold in the markets for as long as since it was introduced in 2013. (Getting to Know Kale, 2015)

According to a Singaporean website, it is possible to grow kale in your tropical backyards. Since kales aren’t usually the target of pests or diseases, it is fairly easy to grow them as you do not need to keep a keen eye on them. They only need sufficient composed mixed into the soil, watered regularly and get sufficient sunlight. (Getting to Know Kale, 2015)

What can I use as a substitute for kale?

Since kale is in fact, not widely available in tropical countries such as the Philippines, consumers are frequently on the lookout for other kale-wannabes in the market. While there is not one vegetable in the market that is able to replicate all the nutritional goodness that is found in kale, there are other substitutes that come in place in a far second. 

These substitutes are from The Stone Soup. (The Best Kale Substitutes)

1. Collard greens

When it comes to flavor and texture, the closest match to kale is collard greens. Recipes that also call for kale recommend collard greens as a substitute if it is not available. However, not even collard greens is readily available in the Philippines.

2. English Spinach

Spinach serves as a good kale substitute for salads and recipes that ask for kale. Spinach, like kale, is also packed with various nutrients and minerals. 

3. Swiss chard

Swiss chard is a good kale substitute when the recipe calls for cooked kale. When cooked, the texture and flavor of Swiss chard and kale is not too far off.

4. Turnip tops

While turnip tops have a slightly different flavor from kale, they can serve as a good kale substitute, especially if the leaves are young and tender, similar to that of kale leaves. 

Read: 15 Healthy Native Filipino Food

What recipes include kale?

The following are the best recipes that include kale. (Vigoreaux, 2019)

Spicy Sausage, Kale, and Goat Cheese Pizza (link: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/food-recipes/easy/a23603078/spicy-sausage-kale-and-goat-cheese-pizza-recipe/)

Arugula Kale Harvest Salad (link: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/food-recipes/a40388/arugula-kale-harvest-salad-recipe/)

Roasted Squash Panzanella (link: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/food-recipes/easy/a24177673/roasted-squash-panzanella-recipe/)

Sweet Potato Cakes with Kale and Bean Salad (link: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/food-recipes/a32712/sweet-potato-cakes-with-kale-and-bean-salad/)

Steak with Kale and White Bean Mash (link: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/food-recipes/healthy/a42202/steak-with-kale-and-white-bean-mash-recipe/)

How to prepare kale?

Most kales can be tough to chew when eaten raw. A lot of people do not know that you need to massage your kale before serving it. Massaging your kale can break down the chemical plant bonds that make it difficult for you to chew kale. It seems that massaging kale is not common knowledge as of yet, but if you are serving kale, please do massage it. (Shoemaker, 2017)

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Anonymous. (2014, September 17). Where to Buy Kale in Manila. Retrieved from eBuyers Guide PH: http://ebuyersguideph.blogspot.com/2014/09/where-to-buy-kale-in-manila.html

Antioxidants. (2012, September 30). Retrieved from Better Health: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/antioxidants

Getting to Know Kale. (2015, October 8). Retrieved from Nong: https://nong.com.sg/blogs/news/69192195-getting-to-know-kale

Harrigan, J. (2018, February 22). What Is Kale? A Guide on Kale Nutrition and Its Benefits. Retrieved from Real Simple Food: https://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/recipe-collections-favorites/popular-ingredients/what-is-kale

Kale. (n.d.). Retrieved from Harvard TH Chain: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/kale/

Kale, raw. (n.d.). Retrieved from Self Nutrition Data: https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2461/2

Olsen H, A. K. (2009, April 8). Characterization and quantification of flavonoids and hydroxycinnamic acids in curly kale (Brassica oleracea L. Convar. acephala Var. sabellica) by HPLC-DAD-ESI-MSn. Retrieved from PubMed: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19253943

Shoemaker, C. (2017, June 21). Greek-Inspired Kale Salad with Vegan Tofu “Feta”. Retrieved from From My Bowl: https://frommybowl.com/greek-kale-salad-tofu-feta/

Tan, Y. (2018, April 11). “SUPERFOOD” KALE AND TWO FARMS IN CALABARZON. Retrieved from Agriculture: https://www.agriculture.com.ph/2018/04/11/superfood-kale-and-two-farms-in-calabarzon/

The Best Kale Substitutes. (n.d.). Retrieved from The Stone Soup: https://thestonesoup.com/blog/kale-substitutes/

Vigoreaux, G. (2019, February 1). 37 Different Ways to Eat Kale Because You Can Never Get Enough. Retrieved from Good Housekeeping: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/food-recipes/healthy/g1436/easy-kale-recipes/?slide=5

What is kale? (n.d.). Retrieved from Take Part: http://www.takepart.com/flashcards/what-is-kale/index.html

Zelman, K. M. (2010, January 7). The Benefits of Vitamin C. Retrieved from WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/the-benefits-of-vitamin-c

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