Life After 50: Why We Love Kale

I love kale.

I eat it, drink it, and write about it whenever I can. Kale articles can stop me in my tracks, especially those with recipes (most of which I've tried).

Not only is it a super-food, it's super-hip: Hollywood has embraced this humble, versatile dark, leafy green as only Hollywood can, resulting in a huge increase in the consumption of kale by some of the world's top celebrities. Good!

I ingest so much kale that my husband thinks I'm addicted. True, I do mix some with brown rice for lunch almost every day, sneak this green wonder into my family's nightly salads (they still can't tell the difference between kale and lettuce), and yes, a bottle of my "green juice" is with me at all times. But still. Addicted? No, I just think I'm onto something: kale is good for you. And here's why:

  • Kale builds better bones: Calorie for calorie, kale has more calcium than milk and calcium is essential for building strong bones. Just as important, it's really high in magnesium which, along with vitamin D, helps the body absorb calcium. Check out this short video for a look at all the best foods for building better bones for life:

  • Kale builds a better immune system: Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and lower the risk of chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and autoimmune disorders.
  • Kale builds better eyes: Kale is rich in the eye-health promoting lutein and zeaxanthin compounds, which could help reduce the risk of macular degeneration.
  • Kale builds a better body: It's low in calories, has zero fat, and can be prepared in a variety of ways, including raw in a salad or as a smoothie.
  • And it's genuinely delicious! One of my favorite ways to eat it is also one of the simplest ways to prepare it: Sauté with a little olive oil until wilted, then add a pinch of sea salt, almond slivers and dried cranberries, and sauté for a few more minutes. Serve with brown rice and voila': the perfect low-in-calorie, high-in-nutrition lunch!

    Is there anyone who shouldn't eat kale? Alas, possibly yes. If you're taking any kind of blood thinner (like warfarin), check with your doctor before eating kale because it's high in vitamin K which helps blood to clot and eating it could interfere with the drugs. Kale also contains oxalates, which can keep calcium from being properly absorbed. Nutrition experts recommend not eating kale at the same time as calcium-rich foods.

    If you're just now jumping on the kale bandwagon . . . take it slow: eating too much kale right away could be a little hard on your digestive system (I speak from experience).

    I'd love to hear from you! Post your favorite kale recipes in the comments section below.
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    For more tips on living your best life after 50 (or 60, or 70...) check out The Best of Everything After 50: The Experts' Guide to Style, Sex, Health, Money and More and Keep me posted on how you're doing by subscribing to me on Facebook and "tweeting" me on Twitter at @BGrufferman. Check out the full video series-The Best of Everything-on the AARP YouTube Channel.

    Earlier on Huff/Post50:

    Healthy Food Habits For Optimum Brain Health