Everybody loves kale. It’s full of beneficial nutrients. You can prepare it a variety of different ways. I eat some almost every day.
But that doesn’t mean it’s the best green around. It really just means that we often like things because other people like them and because we hear more about them. They become more present in our minds and we find ourselves craving them more often. And right now people are craving kale.
That’s great. Yet, I recently read about some other leafy greens that might be even better.
The Leafy Greens You’ve Never Heard of That Are Better Than Kale
There are a variety of healthy dark leafy greens grown in Africa, including moringa, African nightshade, amaranth greens, spider plant, and cowpeas, and they’re taking over Africa.
You might be thinking, why aren’t they popular already? I know I was. But apparently for a long time indigenous vegetables were thought to be inferior to ones like kale and collard greens, which were brought in from Europe. Eating kale, much like in North America today, was a sign of status.
So for a long time indigenous vegetables were hard to find anywhere except obscure markets. Luckily, as of late there’s been a big push across Africa to eat more of them. 25% more greens were planted in 2013 than in 2011. They are commonly stocked on shelves at supermarkets. And for good reason.
4 Reasons Indigenous Greens Are Better Than Kale
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1. Some varieties have more protein
That’s right. In the protein department many greens have kale beat, which is very important when other sources of protein are scarce. It’s also great news for vegetarians.
2. More iron, calcium, folate, vitamins A, C, and E, and other nutrients
Similarly, depending on the variety of each plant, many greens actually have more nutrients than kale, many of which are essential for a healthy body.
3. Better able to endure droughts and pests
This is a great benefit if you’re growing crops in a relatively dry climate, and every gardener knows what a menace pests can be. Growing something that is naturally more resistant to dry spells and nasty little critters is good news for everyone.
4. Great for malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies
As a result, growing more indigenous greens is a good way to help tackle malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies. In North American millions of people still don’t get enough iron or calcium and everyone is looking for more nutrient dense foods.
The Problem With Growing More
Of course, the problem with popularity is that someone wants to profit. Just look at what’s happened to wheat. Greed has taken over its entire production, to the point where many people can’t digest it properly and its nutritional content is almost non-existent.
The fear is that the same thing will happen to Africa’s indigenous greens. As farmers try to grow bigger yields, the nutritional content or pest resistance, might be lost.
The lesson I draw is that we should always remember that balance is important in life. Kale is popular today, but that doesn’t mean other greens are less worthy. Swiss chard, bok choy, spinach, African nightshade and amaranth – they’re all worth a try.
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