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Wednesday Wonders: Kale

September 16, 2009

Starting today, Wednesday will be a day for Q & As from you โ€” the Nutritioulicious readers.ย  Please post questions in the comments section or email me directly at Jessica@nutritioulicious.com to ask your burning food and nutrition questions. Every week I will post a featured question with an answer. I look forward to your questions! Let’s get the ball rolling with today’s Wednesday Wonder!

Q: Hi! I have been making smoothies every morning using kale and wanted to know if there is a nutritional difference between dinosaur kale and curly-leaf kale? โ€” Eliza

A: Hi Eliza,

Great question, especially since kale is in season right about now. It’s great that you have been eating so much kale, since the nutritional benefits are really excellent. For those of you who don’t know, kale is a green, leafy vegetable in the Brassica family, which also includes broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, and collard greens. There are multiple types of kale, including red Russian kale, curly kale, ornamental kale, and dinosaur kale.

The primary difference between the different types of kale is in appearance and taste, not nutrition. Nutritionally, kale is a powerhouse of nutrients. It is very high in vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, and antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. It is also a good source ofย  fiber and calcium, and has been found to have sulfur-containing phytonutrients that help prevent cancer. Kale is low in calories, containing 36 calories per 1 cup.

As for appearance and taste, curly kale (on the left in the picture below) has a wider, more ruffled leaf and a thick, fibrous stalk, and is usually a brighter shade of green than other varieties. It has a more pungent and bitter taste than other types of kale. Dinosaur kale (on the right in the picture below), also known as Lacinato kale, has narrower, darker leaves that are almost blue-green in color and has an embossed texture. It has a bit of a sweeter, more delicate taste than curly kale.

Curly Kale (left) and Dinosaur Kale (right)
Curly Kale (left) and Dinosaur Kale (right)

Bottom line: Either variety of kale will provide you with nutritional benefits. Which you choose comes down to taste preferences.

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    1. Yeah, it’s such a great name!

      As for the blenders, I wonder why you have chunks of ice left over?! Perhaps you should try using less ice and adding as needed depending on the consistency you want for the smoothie. Another option is to use a hand blender instead of the big KitchenAid.

      I don’t know anyone who has the Vitamix, so I’m not sure if it’s worth it. Perhaps some other readers have recommendations!

  1. Wow…I never knew all that about kale! I rarely eat it, but since I never knew all of the health benefits, I should probably start, right?

    Do you have any tasty recipes that use kale? I’m not sure how to start incorporating it into my diet.

    1. You can make kale the same way you make any other leafy green, like spinach – saute it with garlic and olive oil or add it to stews or soups (white bean and kale is a popular combo). I also like roasted kale, which I made tonight and will be posting a recipe for tomorrow. So stay tuned!

  2. I love kale and use it in my morning juice everyday but had never known the differences thx so much for all the great info