Five reasons to include kale in your Thanksgiving menu

Find out why kale is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. This kale harvest salad with cranberries and pumpkin seeds is a perfect side for Thanksgiving
By Julie Daniluk, R.H.N.
kale nutrition health Getty Images

It's got a lot of competition, but kale is one of the healthiest foods available. Just one piece of evidence: a new rating system called the Andi scale rates the density of nutrients per calorie. The scale is ranked zero to 1000 and kale takes the top spot because this leafy green delivers the most nutrients for only 36 calories a cup.

Until recently, we thought about nutrition as vitamin A through zinc, but it turns out that the consumption of a variety of phytochemicals (such as indole-3-carbinol, found in cabbage) helps our bodies to detox and repair, protecting us from disease. That and these five other reasons are why you should pick up some of this in-season veggie during your next trip to the market:

1. Kale prevents inflammation and builds healthy bones: Kale is high in vitamin K, which is important for bone mineral density and osteoporosis prevention. A lack of vitamin K in the diet can also contribute to excessive inflammation in the body, leading to joint pain and symptoms of arthritis.

2. Improve your skin with kale: Vitamin A, found in kale, helps treat and prevent acne because of its anti-inflammatory effects. The retinoids in vitamin A prevent the inflammation of acne and reduce the overproduction of oil in the skin. One cup of kale contains over 100 percent of your required daily intake of vitamin A.

3. Choose kale to prevent gout and kidney stones: Kale is a good source of vitamin C, which prevents the buildup of uric acid in our systems. This acid buildup can deposit in our kidneys and joints and possibly lead to the development of gout and kidney stones.

4. Kale is high in soluble fibre: Soluble fibres are great at binding the bile acids and lipids in our intestine that are used to create cholesterol in our system. This lowers the amount of cholesterol in our systems and can lower our overall risk of heart disease.

5. Kale may help prevent some cancers: Kale contains compounds that play a role in a reduction of the risk of bladder, breast, colon, ovary and prostate cancer by inhibiting the growth of tumors.

Five reasons to include kale in your Thanksgiving menu  

Thanksgiving kale salad
The cranberries and pumpkin seeds in this dish will brighten up any Thanksgiving table. The sterols and zinc in the pumpkin seeds help your immune system for the cold winter ahead. The earthy sweetness of the kale is set off nicely by the nutty flavour of the quinoa. I use both red and white quinoa for a nice colour variation.

1 cup quinoa (yields 4 cooked cups)
2 1/2 cups water, divided
8 cups kale (yields 4 steamed cups), stems removed, cut into ribbons
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup dried cranberries (juice-sweetened)

1/4 cup pumpkin seed butter (use almond butter if you can’t find pumpkin)
1/4 cup apple cider
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 tsp salt (reduce if needed)


1. Place quinoa and 1.5 cups of water into a medium pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, then simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat for five minutes, then fluff with a fork. Let cool.

2. Place kale and 1 cup water in a large pot and steam for two minutes. Drain well.

3. Place cooked qunioa into kale pot. Add seeds and berries. Mix well to combine.

4. Mix all dressing ingredients together in a bowl and add to pot.

5. Combine well. Serve warm immediately or chill and serve.

Makes nine cups.

For more amazing Thanksgiving recipes visit

Nutritionist Julie Daniluk hosts Healthy Gourmet, a reality cooking show that looks at the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition. Her soon-to-be-published first book, Meals That Heal Inflammation, advises on allergy-free foods that both taste great and assist the body in the healing process.


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