Once upon a time, we didn't ingest kale by the bushelful, start the morning with a turmeric tonic, or seek out pulses for our pantry. But the superfood revelations keep coming, even as the word itself comes under fire. While some believe that the term has more to do with clever marketing than nutrition, knowing about unusual plants that have health benefits and don't taste terrible seems like a win-win.
Next up in the spotlight: kohlrabi. The cruciferous vegetable is a "much overlooked superfood," says Dr. Nicholas V. Perricone, a dermatologist, best-selling author of 10 books on health and wellness, and founder of Perricone MD. The doctor has been espousing the benefits of powerhouses like salmon and blueberries for years, long before most in the skin-care world were making the link between a healthy diet and glowing skin. It seems kohlrabi may be the next worthy star. "It is low in calories but high in vitamins, minerals and fiber," he says. "It's naturally high in vitamin C, which is important for healthy collagen products to keep skin firm."
Okay, we're listening. Perricone continues, "Like other members of the Brassica family, kohlrabi contains health-promoting phytochemicals such as isothiocyanates, sulforaphane, and indole-3-carbinol that protect against certain cancers. A study published in the International Journal of Oncology demonstrates the link between diet and stress-induced cancer. We know that stress accelerates both aging and disease. When we are under stress our immune systems are also compromised impacting our ability to ward off invading organisms. Chronic stress raises the level of all of the 'death' hormones, including norepinephrine and cortisol. Finding a safe and effective substance that can inhibit the carcinogenic effects of norepinephrine is a significant accomplishment."
Perricone adds that in addition to kohlrabi, other vegetables make the cut including watercress, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, broccoli sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy, kale, collards, mustard, turnip, radish, and rutabaga.
As for the taste, kohlrabi is sweet and mild, and is often sliced into strips and used raw in slaws and salads, including ones on the menu at Little Park in TriBeCa and the Girl & the Goat in Chicago. Feast your eyes on this:
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