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Kale is up high in the list of the ten most nutritious vegetables. It belongs to the same group of vegetables as cabbage and broccoli (Brassica oleracea Acephela Group) and has green or purple leaves which do not form a head. Kale is very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, zeanxanthin, and rich in calcium; the calcium in kale being extremely well absorbed. It also contains good amounts of folic acid, vitamin B6, manganese and potassium
Diet and Digestion
One cup of kale contains nearly 20% of the RDA of dietary fibre. It also contains glucosinolate isothiocyanate (ITC) which fights the formation of H. pylori (Helicobacter pylori), a bacterial growth in the stomach lining that can lead to ulcer and gastric cancer.
One cup of kale provides about 10% of the RDA of omega-3 fatty acids that helps regulate the body's inflammatory process. A high dose of vitamin K further fights against excessive inflammatory-related problems, such as arthritis, autoimmune disorders, and asthma.
Kale is high in carotenoids and flavonoids, two powerful antioxidants that protect our cells from free radicals that cause oxidative stress. The key flavonoids kaempferol and quercitin (as well as 45 other distinctive flavonoids in kale) have been shown to specifically fight against the formation of cancerous cells. With high doses of antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin A, and manganese, kale is a potent defender against cellular oxidation.
A healthy diet of kale provides glucosinolates, which have been shown to prevent colon, breast, bladder, prostate, ovarian cancers, as well as gastric cancer.
The high fibre content of kale lowers cholesterol by binding with bile and results in the liver producing more bile acid to digest fat, requiring more cholesterol to so, ultimately lowering the amount of cholesterol within our bodies.
The isothiocyanates (ITC) from glucosinolates found in kale aid in both phases I and II of the body's detoxification process. The high sulphur content of kale has further been shown essential for phase II of detoxification.
Kale provides a high dose of vitamin K (providing 1327% of the RDA in one cup), which is necessary for the synthesis of osteocalcin, a protein that strengthens the composition of bones. Vitamin K also prevents calcium build-up in our tissue that can lead to atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease and stroke. Finally, vitamin K is essential for synthesizing sphingolipid, the fat needed to maintain the myelin sheath around our nerves, and therefore our nervous system as a whole thereby making it beneficial to brain health.
one cup of kale is an effective antioxidant providing 192% of the RDA of vitamin. It boosts immunity, maintains healthy bones and teeth, prevents urinary stones, and is essential to our reproductive organs.
One cup of kale heartily provides over 88% of our RDA of vitamin C. It is not only a powerful antioxidant, but also lowers blood pressure, ensures a healthy immune system, and fights against age-related ocular diseases, such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
The nutrition in kale is best preserved by steaming or lightly stir-frying. Alternatively drink kale in a juice, combined with beet, cucumber, watercress, celery, carrot, green apple and parsley for an juice packed full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Scientists have recently deemed walnuts as the healthiest nuts, healthier than almonds, peanuts, pistachios or pecans. Walnuts are particularly rich in antioxidants, substances that protect the body from free radical damage which contributes to ageing as well as some types of cancer. Walnuts contain antixodiants at a level up to fifteen times more powerful than vitamin E.
Nuts, as a food group, are a good source of good-quality protein, vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre. Although considered fattening, in the case of walnuts for example, the bullk of this fat is in the form of beneficial non-saturated fat rich in omega-3 fatty acids, one serving contains 2.6g. Omega-3 fatty acids help the body fight against high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, stroke and heart disease. Walnuts also contain no cholesterol so are good for a low-cholesterol diet. The American Journal of Cardiology found that eating a handful of raw walnuts after a meal high in saturated fat limits the fat's ability to damage the arteries.
A serving (around a handful) of walnuts contains around 350mg of magenesium which is important for nerve and muscle function and aids normal heartbeat. There are also several B vitamins avaiable in walnuts including B1, B6 and folate. Vitamin B1 promotes a healthy heart and nervous system and helps convert carboyhdrates into energy. B6 is essential for the brain, nerves and red blood cells. Folate is necessary to maintain healthy blood cells and DNA. One serving size of walnuts will also provide 50% of the recommended daily allowance of manganese and 25% of copper. Manganese helps the body form connective tissue, bones, blood clotting factors and sex hormones. It also plays a role in fat and carbohydrate metabolism, calcium absorption, and blood sugar regulation. Manganese is also necessary for normal brain and nerve function. Copper is an essential enzyme known as cuproenzymes. It plays a role in energy production, connective tissue formation, iron metabolism and supports normal functioning of the brain and central nervous system Walnuts are also a good source of phosphorus and contain trace amounts of calcium, iron and vitamin K.
The black walnut, or American walnut, has many medicinal uses. Ancient Greeks and Romans called the black walnut the 'imperial nut' and used the hull for intestinal aliments. It has been part of Russian folk medicine since the 17th century. People of the Middle Ages used walnuts to ward off witchcraft and epileptic fits. American Indians still use the inner bark to make a laxative tea, and they chew the bark for toothaches.
Black wanuts have shown promise as a cytotoxic anti-cancer agent. It can be used to treat various diseases of the skin such as ringworm in children. It also has uses for sore throats, tonsillitis, thyroid disorders and inflammatory skin conditions including eczema and acne. According to the American Cancer Society, black walnut hull extractis is reputed to counter more than 100 parasites. In traditional Chinese Ayurvedic and Western herbal medicine, black walnut tinctures are used to treat yeast infections and to kill parasites. The active ingredient in the tincture is juglone, a naphthalene derivative. It also contains plumbagin, tannins and serveral flavanoids such as quercetin. In short black walnut has anti-fungal, astringent, anti-inflammatory and anthelmintic properties and anti-oxidant properties. Anti-cancer properties have yet to be verified.
Walnuts are best eaten raw. Blend them into a rice milk and fruit shake for a satisfying breakfast. Toast them lightly for salads or use them in deserts to add more nutrition and depth of flavour.
Mini-carob walnut cakes
Preparation time: 5 minutes
1/2 cup of ground walnuts
1/2 cup carob powder
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
4 egg whites
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Place all ingredients in a bowl and stir. Scop batter into 4 oiled ramekins. Place in an oven preheated to 200 degrees and bake for 30 minutes. Cook before removing. This dish can also be sweetened with xylitol or maple syrup if required.
QUINOA (pronounced keen-wa)
Quinoa is an ancient grain native to South America, once called the gold of the Incas. Though it is called a grain it is in fact a seed. It supplies a complete protein which means it contains all nine essential amino acids. It is particularly high in the amino acid lysine which is essential for tissue growth and repair. It is also a good source of methione and is rich in magnesium, folate, and phosphorous.
Quinoa is helpful for migraine sufferers. The high magnesium content helps relax blood vessels a contributing factor to migraine onset. It is also a good source of riboflavin - vitamin B2 - which has been shown to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks in sufferers.
With high levels of magnesium, quinoa is helpful in reducing the risk of hypertension, heart arrhythmias and ischemic heart disease. It is also high in dietary fibre which can also offer protection against heart disase. In postmenopausal women, increased levels of whole grains have been shown to slow down the progression of atherosclerosis - plaque build-up around the arteries - and slow the narrowing of arterial passages.
Increased whole grain fibre such as that found in quinoa has been found to half the risk of pre-menopausal women developing breast cancer.
Quinoa is a good source of the antioxidant manganese, a mineral that serves as a cofactor for superoxide dismutase enzyme which protects the body's mitochondria against oxidative damage during energy production. It also protects other cells, including red blood cells, from damage by free radicals. Ageing of cells results from free radical damage over time.
Low whole grain consumption has been shown to correlate to a 20% increase in wheezing in children with astham. Whole grains have been shown to benefit asthma sufferers and the vitamin E content of quinoa has also been found to be of benefit.
The high insoluble fibre content of quinoa can help women avoid gallstones, lowering the risk by 17%. The protection is dose related. Not only does insoluble fibre increase transit time of food through the intestines, it also reduces the secretion of bile which in excess can contribute to gallstone formation. Insoluble fibre can also increase insulin sensitivity and lower the triglycerides in blood.
Healthy Intestinal Flora
Plant ligans are phytonutrients abundant in quinoa and these help keep the gut flora healthy. They are converted by the good flora of the gut into mammalian ligans, including one called enterolactone, which protects against cancer and heart disease.
Reduced risk of Type II Diabetes
Being a rich source of magnesium, quinoa is helpful in the regulation of blood sugar. Magnesium is a co-factor for more than 300 enzymes including those involved in glucose and insulin secretion. Studies have revealed that including whole grains, such as quinoa, in the diet reduces the risk of developing diabetes by up to 31%.
Quinoa can be found in certain supermarkets such as Waitrose and on-line with Ocado. It needs to be stored in an air-tight container and will keep from three to six months, slightly longer if stored in the fridge. It needs to be rinsed thoroughly before cooking and is cooked on the hob with one part grain to two parts water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer and cover. It will take about fifteen minutes to cook and expand. To give the quinoa a more nuttier flavour, dry fry for five minutes before boiling.
Suitable for low-gluten diets
Quinoa has a very low gluten content and few people are show allergies to it.
See the Recipes section for this month's delicious quinoa recipes