Sunday, February 22, 2009

What's in kale? USDA nutrient content data

(Photo: Homegrown kale, frozen, now thawing)

Here is a complete chart showing the nutrient content of 1 cup of chopped raw kale, an amount I would easily consume in a fresh salad, mixed with various other greens or as my husband's delicious kale slaw recipe.

The standouts are the high content of calcium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, folic acid,
vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), vitamin K, potassium, manganese, copper, and even the plant form of omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid). In addition to the carotenoid beta-carotene, kale contains other very important carotenoid molecules called lutein and zeaxanthin (both necessary for eye health) and numerous others (probably too many to count, and maybe even yet identified).

The fact that you can consume such a large quantity of these important nutrients from a food that is so easy to grow, readily available, easy to incorporate into many different delicious recipes, plus so low in calories is a huge bonus and reason to eat some kale 365 days of the year!

I plan to write posts in the upcoming months to give you more information about the importance of each of these nutrients and other molecules (phytochemicals not required for growth but important to optimize overall health) contained in kale and other brassica vegetables. Doing so will be a great review and fun for me; in fact, I can almost guarantee that I will learn something new, too, and I will enjoy sharing this information with you!

Kale (raw)

Scientific Name: Brassica oleracea (Acephala Group)

Nutrient Units 1 cup, chopped
-------
67.000 g
Proximates
Water
g
56.588
Energy
kcal
33.500
Energy
kj
140.030
Protein
g
2.211
Total lipid (fat)
g
0.469
Carbohydrate, by difference
g
6.707
Fiber, total dietary
g
1.340
Ash
g
1.025
Minerals
Calcium, Ca
mg
90.450
Iron, Fe
mg
1.139
Magnesium, Mg
mg
22.780
Phosphorus, P
mg
37.520
Potassium, K
mg
299.490
Sodium, Na
mg
28.810
Zinc, Zn
mg
0.295
Copper, Cu
mg
0.194
Manganese, Mn
mg
0.519
Selenium, Se
mcg
0.603
Vitamins
Vitamin C, ascorbic acid
mg
80.400
Thiamin
mg
0.074
Riboflavin
mg
0.087
Niacin
mg
0.670
Pantothenic acid
mg
0.061
Vitamin B-6
mg
0.182
Folate
mcg
19.631
Vitamin B-12
mcg
0.000
Vitamin A, IU
IU
5963.000
Vitamin A, RE
mcg_RE
596.300
Vitamin E
mg_ATE
0.536
Lipids
Fatty acids, saturated
g
0.061
4:0
g
0.000
6:0
g
0.000
8:0
g
0.000
10:0
g
0.000
12:0
g
0.001
14:0
g
0.002
16:0
g
0.051
18:0
g
0.003
Fatty acids, monounsaturated
g
0.035
16:1
g
0.001
18:1
g
0.033
20:1
g
0.000
22:1
g
0.000
Fatty acids, polyunsaturated
g
0.226
18:2
g
0.092
18:3
g
0.121
18:4
g
0.000
20:4
g
0.001
20:5
g
0.000
22:5
g
0.000
22:6
g
0.000
Cholesterol
mg
0.000
Amino acids
Tryptophan
g
0.027
Threonine
g
0.098
Isoleucine
g
0.132
Leucine
g
0.155
Lysine
g
0.132
Methionine
g
0.021
Cystine
g
0.029
Phenylalanine
g
0.113
Tyrosine
g
0.078
Valine
g
0.121
Arginine
g
0.123
Histidine
g
0.046
Alanine
g
0.111
Aspartic acid
g
0.198
Glutamic acid
g
0.251
Glycine
g
0.107
Proline
g
0.131
Serine
g
0.093

USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 12 (March 1998)
Where kale is more than decoration on my plate (of course I eat that too if I know that it has been washed)!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

17 comments:

Karen said...

I just discovered your site. I am glad to see a site glorifying this wonderfully nutritious and under-appreciated vegetable!
Kale is probably my favorite vegetable. I cook it most often (in a huge pot) with a bit of sauteed shallot and then add soy sauce and balsamic vinegar near the end of cooking. Everyone in my family loves this and it is good hot or cold.
Karen

Diana Dyer said...

Karen,
Glad you stopped by! Kale is just coming to the best time of the growing season. Harvesting it after being nipped by the frost will sweeten it up just a bit, making it even more delicious. Enjoy!
Diana

Brooke said...

Wow!Thanks for all of the great information.
I just made my first salad of Kale and swiss chard.... delicious!!
Did I read your list right that a cup of kale also has 2 grams of protein?
Thanks
Brooke

Diana Dyer said...

Brooke,
Thanks for stopping by my kale blog. Yes, 1 cup of raw kale has just over 2 grams of protein, not a major source of protein either in terms of quantity or quality. In contrast one egg has 7 grams of protein that is considered the highest quality protein for promoting growth and development.

Please stop by again!
Diana

Brooke said...

I was unaware that there were better types of proteins than others.
Is animal protein more 'bio-available' to humans than plant based proteins?
Thanks

Anonymous said...

Why was there not a Vitamin K content given for kale?
I had kale the other evening for the first time in my life. There was a rather large amount of kale in the soup we made, about 1 cup for each serving of soup.
About six hours later, I had a severe cramp in my right calf. About 12 hours after that or 18 hours after eating the soup, I went to the ER and found that I had a blood clot in my lung.

A few weeks ago, following knee surgery, my wife was advised to go easy on green leafy vegetables for some period of time.

Diana Dyer said...

Thanks for stopping to visit my blog about kale and also pointing out the omission of vitamin K in the table provided on this post. Kale is very high in vitamin K. One cup of frozen, cooked and drained kale contains 1146 micrograms of vitamin K per USDA data. The RDA for vitamin K is 120 micrograms per day for men and 90 micrograms per day for women. Yes, vitamin K is necessary for blood clotting. I am sorry to hear that you had a blood clot after eating kale, but without knowing much more of your medical history and current medications, I can only say for certain that there was an association, not a cause and effect, between eating the kale and your subsequent blood clot. Your wife's surgeon likely made that suggestion in order to reduce the risk of excessive bleeding during her surgery. In the past, people taking blood thinning medications such as Warfarin used to be told to restrict their foods containing vitamin K, however, today people are told to consume a consistent daily amount of vitamin K containing foods to which the amount of blood-thinning medication is titrated. To do so requires a team effort from the patient, doctor, and dietitian. If you google "vitamin K food content USDA", you will find the link to a PDF that has 20 pages of vitamin K content of foods from highest (kale) to lowest (white grapefruit). Vitamin K is an essential nutrient and is likely to play an important role in many aspects of our health, including the emerging information about the importance of high vitamin K intakes to prevent osteoporosis and bone fractures. Again, I thank you for pointing out that this chart (for some unknown reason!) did not include vitamin K. I send my best healthy wishes to you and your wife!
Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Renee said...

I have just found a love for kale. Can't get enough of it..literally. I bake the whole bunch with a little olive oil and I can eat the whole store bought bunch. Is that dangerous for too much potassium or other nutriets?
I want to plant it this year. Do you know of a good non-gmo place to purchase? I will get your book soon and feel your sight has been a god-send to me at the right time.
Thank you!
Renee

Diana Dyer said...

Renee
Thanks for stopping by. IF you purchase certified organic kale seeds, they will not be genetically modified (GMO). See other posts I have done about "not overdoing a good thing", particularly the post called The Dose is the Poison.
Eating too much potassium is usually only a worry if one needs to consume a potassium-restricted diet because of kidney failure.
Diana

Brooke said...

THese seeds are great!!

http://www.botanicalinterests.com/products/view/3013/Kale-Red-Winter-Organic-Seed/page:2/category:vegetables/filter:14

Anonymous said...

Dear Diana,

I have been craving kale from my uncle's garden, but the kale from the grocery store seems somehow less nutritious, less craving-satisfying... do you think this is an illusion based on the pleasant idea of the kale having come from my uncle's, or might big agribusiness kale be grown less nutritiously than that from my uncle's virgin soil (he's never grown kale or anything else in it before)? is there any science you know of that addresses the benefit of kale from gardens vs. kale from supermarkets?

thanks so much if you know,
Z

Candy Jane said...

Hello, Diana!
I teach raw food classes here on the Oregon coast, where KALE thrives all winter long! I did a Raw-some dinner for 32 folks last night (a heart-healthy education group that focuses on vegetarian meals), and the star of the show was COLORBOX KALE SALAD. I massage chopped raw kale with a bit of olive oil and pinch of sea salt, smoosh in some avocado. After setting for about 10 min., while I chop other yummy veggies to include (green onion, red cabbage, yellow bell pepper,red ripe tomatoes), the kale is softened and easy to chew. This is my fav way to eat kale, getting all those phytonutrients and enzymes that glorious kale has to offer.
What a fun site you have created, I'll be back. Especially appreciated the extensive nutrition info...

Kerry Hoke said...

We just tried Candy Jane's "COLORBOX KALE SALAD" and loved it! My boys, 7 and 5, actually both liked it and they are picky eaters. The 7 yr old who doesn't like vegetables said that it was "zingy."

Silvianne Enstad said...

Thanks for your reliable nutritional information on kale.

Anonymous said...

re chart not including vitamin K. Unless the chart was updated since the comment was made, it does include K. "Vitamin K" is actually potassium. Potassium is listed under minerals.

Diana Dyer said...

Thanks for visiting my blog and reading through this lengthy post and comments. You are correct that K is the chemical abbreviation for potassium, but potassium is mineral and vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin. They are not the molecule and very different functions in the body in spite of their potentially confusing names and/or abbreviations. Please stop by again!
Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Shannon Gilmartin said...

Just used Kale instead of cabbage in my colcannon. The kids loved it. Our farmer from our CSA recently gave me a GIANT pot of planted Kale which hopefully I won't kill too soon (I have a bit of a black thumb, but he said I should be OK with Kale, it is pretty hearty) Our pet chinchillas also like it as a snack. Good and healthy for all of us, and looking forward to trying some of your recipes for it to add to my repertoire.