Kale is a vegetable and a member of the cabbage family. It’s a cruciferous vegetable like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, collard greens, and Brussels sprouts. Its leaves can be green or purple, and have either a curly or smooth shape. There are different types of kale. The most common type is called curly kale (Scots kale), which has green, curly leaves and a fibrous stem. Do you want to know what the health benefits of kale are? Read on to find out.
Health Benefits of Kale
1. One of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet
A single cup of raw kale (67 grams) contains:
• Vitamin A – 206% of the DV (beta-carotene)
• Vitamin B6 – 9% of the DV
• Vitamin C – 134% of the DV
• Vitamin K – 684% of the DV
• Manganese – 26% of the DV
• Copper – 10% of the DV
• Calcium – 9% of the DV
• Potassium – 9% of the DV
• Magnesium – 6% of the DV
Kale also contains 3% or more of the DV (daily value) for vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, iron, and phosphorus. It has 33 calories, 6 grams of carbs, and 3 grams of protein. Kale contains little fat. A large portion of the fat is an omega-3 fatty acid known as alpha-linolenic acid.
2. Loaded with powerful antioxidants
Antioxidants are substances that help fight oxidative damage caused by free radicals in the body. Oxidative damage is among the leading drivers of aging and some diseases such as cancer. Like other leafy greens, kale is rich in antioxidants. These include beta-carotene and vitamin C, as well as various polyphenols and flavonoids.
Some antioxidants have other important functions. The flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol found in kale have been studied extensively in test tubes and animals. These antioxidants have heart-protective, blood pressure-lowering, anti-viral, anti-depressant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties.
3. Can help lower cholesterol
Cholesterol is used to make bile acids (substances that help your body digest fats). The liver converts cholesterol into bile acids, which are then released into the digestive system each time you eat a fatty meal. When the fat has been absorbed and the bile acids have served their purpose, they’re reabsorbed into the bloodstream and used again. Substances known as bile acid sequestrants can bind bile acids in your digestive system and prevent them from being reabsorbed. This reduces the amount of cholesterol in the body.
Kale contains bile acid sequestrants, which can lower cholesterol levels in your body. Over time, this may lead to a reduced risk of heart disease. Steaming kale is particularly effective in increasing the bile acid binding effect. In addition, one study discovered that drinking kale juice each day for 12 weeks increased HDL (good cholesterol) by 27% and lowered LDL (bad cholesterol) levels by 10%.
4. Has cancer-fighting properties
Cancer is a serious disease characterized by the uncontrolled growth of cells. Kale is loaded with compounds that are believed to protect against cancer. One example is sulforaphane, a substance that can help fight cancer at the molecular level. Kale also contains a indole-3-carbinol, another substance believed to help prevent cancer.
5. Good source of minerals
Kale is high in minerals that many people are deficient in. It is a good source of calcium, a nutrient that’s important for bone health and plays a role in various cellular functions. Kale also contains magnesium, which can help protect against heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Kale also contains plenty of potassium. Adequate potassium intake is associated with reduced blood pressure and lower risk of heart disease. One advantage of kale over other leafy greens like spinach is that it’s low in oxalate, a substance that can prevent minerals from being absorbed.
6. Rich in lutein and zeaxanthin
One of the consequences of aging is poor eyesight. Fortunately, there are nutrients that can help prevent this from happening. Such nutrients include lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoid antioxidants found in large amounts in kale. Studies have shown that people who get enough lutein and zeaxanthin have a lower risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
7. Can help you lose weight
Kale has properties that make it a great weight loss friendly food. It is low in calories but can still make you feel full. Because of its low calorie and high water content, kale has a low energy density. Eating foods with low energy density can aid weight loss according to numerous studies. Additionally, kale contains protein and fiber. These are two important nutrients when it comes to weight loss.
Adding kale to your diet is simple. Use it in your recipes or add it to your salads. A popular snack is kale chips. Just drizzle some olive oil or avocado oil on your kale, add salt, and bake in it an oven until dry. It tastes delicious and makes a great crunchy, healthy snack.
Many people also add kale to smoothies to boost the nutritional value. But if you want maximum nutrition and flavor, it is recommended to steam kale. Fill a steamer pot with two inches of water. While waiting for the water to boil, chop greens. Steam for five minutes. It’s that easy. Now that you know the health benefits of kale, it’s time to load up on this very nutritious vegetable.
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