Can superfoods really be helpful? Well, first of all, health goes far beyond just eating well. In fact, it’s a lifestyle. And all those pleasures and joys we encounter in life? They’re examples of primary food. You see primary foods are much more than what you place on your plate.
The concept is that it’s the things like regular physical exercise, having a fulfilling career, a rich spiritual practice (whatever that means to you) and healthy relationships that can fill your soul and your hunger for life. And when these things are in balance and satiate you then your life feeds you and eating the food on your plate is secondary.
Today I want to discuss a couple of these secondary foods. Broccoli and kale are often touted to be “superfoods.” And, yes, they really are amazingly healthy for you.
To start, both broccoli and kale are considered cruciferous vegetables related to each other in the Brassica family. This family of super plants also includes cauliflower, cabbage, mustard greens and Brussels sprouts.
These superfoods provide a ton of nutrition and other health-promoting compounds. They’re relatively inexpensive and easy to cook, too!
Can superfoods really be helpful? Think: super nutrition
Broccoli and kale are full of nutrition meaning they’ve got lots of vitamins, minerals and are high in fiber, for example. They’re both considered to be nutrient dense, which is a measure of nutrients per calorie — and these both have a lot!
100 grams of broccoli (about 1 cup, chopped) contains:
- 34 calories
- 8 g protein, 0.4 g fat, 6.6 g carbohydrates and 2.6 g fiber
- Good source of B vitamins (when eaten raw)
- >100% of your daily vitamin C
- Almost 100% of your vitamin K
- Good source of manganese
- Traces of all the other vitamins and minerals
One cup of loosely packed kale contains:
- 8 calories
- 7 g protein, 0.2 g fat (including Omega-3 fatty acids), 1.4 g carbohydrates and 0.6 g fiber
- Contains pre-vitamin A (beta-carotene)
- Several B vitamins, including B1, B3, B5, B6 and folate (B9)
- Rich in vitamins C and K
- Lots of minerals including manganese, magnesium, iron, potassium, sulfur, copper, phosphorus and calcium
As you can see, these two foods contain a lot of nutrients.
NOTE: Too much vitamin K may interact with certain blood-thinning medications. If you’re taking one of these medications, talk to your doctor or pharmacist before incorporating too much of these superfoods into your diet.
Broccoli and kale also contain other health-promoting compounds.
Can superfoods really be helpful? Think: super health-promoting compounds
Broccoli and kale tend to taste a bit bitter but that bitterness equals healthfulness!
The bitter flavor comes from some of the health-promoting compounds found in these super plant foods. Specifically, compounds such as glucosinolates (for example, sulforaphane and isothiocyanates) and polyphenolic flavonoids.
There are a few different types of kale (curly kale, dinosaur kale, red/purple kale). The different colors stem from slight differences in the amounts of the compounds these plants contain.
As mentioned earlier, one of the main active ingredients in cruciferous vegetables are glucosinolates. These antioxidant compounds are very useful to help detoxify and protect against cancer.
FUN FACT: It’s the precursors to glucosinolates that are in cruciferous vegetables, not the compounds themselves. When fresh broccoli and kale are eaten (or even chopped/blended) raw the active compounds are produced. This fact is incorporated into a trick I use in this week’s recipe.
NOTE: Glucosinolates may affect iodine absorption and thyroid health, particularly in people prone to thyroid disease. In this case, you may not have to ditch these superfoods altogether – but you may want to cook them first.
These superfoods also contain flavonols like kaempferol and quercetin. Flavonols have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and they decrease your risk of cancer.
Kale also contains carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin. Carotenoids are known for promoting eye health and are protective against many cancers.
When cooked, kale contains another anti-cancer compound called indole.
Broccoli and kale are cruciferous superfoods. So, can superfoods really be helpful? Yes! These two green powerhouses are packed with nutrition and have a whole array of health-promoting compounds. (Always remember to consult with a qualified physician before engaging in any significant diet, fitness, or lifestyle change or making any changes with regard to supplements, herbs, vitamins or prescription drugs.)
Almost everyone should be eating these regularly (in addition to filling yourself with plenty of primary foods).
Please be cautious if you’re taking blood-thinning medications. And, if you have thyroid issues, cook them first.
Do you, or does anyone you know, absolutely love (or hate) these superfoods? Do you have a favorite recipe to share? Please share with us in the comments section below. As always, we love to hear from you.
Recipe: (Broccoli and Kale): Superfood Soup
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. garlic, chopped
2 large handfuls kale
4 stalks celery, chopped
4 stalks broccoli chopped
8 cups broth
½ cup tahini
2 tsp. sea salt
Sauté garlic in olive oil in a large soup pot. At the same time, do steps #2 and #3.
Add half of the raw kale, celery and broccoli to your high-speed blender (in that order).
Cover with up to 4 cups of broth, and blend.
Pour soup into the pot with the sautéed garlic. Do the same for the other half of the veggies and broth.
Heat soup, and simmer for up to 5 minutes.
Remove from heat. Add tahini and sea salt. Stir well.
Serve and enjoy!
P.S. If you want the soup to be extra creamy, you can re-blend after it’s heated.
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