Do you love cruciferous veggies? They belong to the Brassica family and their members are, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and the all-mighty kale. Don’t get it wrong, all of these are really healthy, but today’s topic is going to be all about kale. Being known as a superfood, kale originates from Europe and Asia Minor. People have been eating it for nearly 4,000 years. You can find it in many different colors, from dark green to even pink. The most known types are curly, Lacinato, Salad Savoy, and Red Russian kale. So, why is this green veggie so popular, and what are the health benefits of kale? Well, that’s what today’s topic is going to answer.
Kale nutrients and health benefits
Did you know that kale is one of the most nutrient-dense foods in the world? It presents a great source of fiber and it’s rich in an omega-3 fatty acid known as alpha-linolenic acid.
One cup of raw kale (about 67 grams/ 2.4 ounces) has:
*DV – a daily value
- Vitamin A: 206% DV (from beta-carotene)
- Manganese: 26% DV
- Vitamin K: 684% DV
- Calcium: 9% DV
- Vitamin C: 134% DV
- Copper: 10% DV
- Vitamin B6: 9% DV
- Potassium: 9% DV
- Magnesium: 6% DV
- Calories: 33
- Carbs: 6 grams (2 of which are fiber)
- Protein: 3 grams
As you can see kale is very rich in various nutrients, so when you have a chance, try it out as it can be a great addition to your daily meals.
Kale is enriched with powerful antioxidants
Many green veggies are rich in antioxidants. Well, luckily, kale is one of them. Some of these are actually beta-carotene and vitamin C. Antioxidants are well-known for combating oxidative stress. And, as you’ve probably heard, oxidative damage can be a potential cause for many diseases.
So, it’s good to know kale can help us stay healthy. It has flavonoids, quercetin and kaempferol. So far, there are a lot of animal studies regarding these two kale compounds.
They provide great heart protection, they can lower blood pressure and inflammation. Also, they have antiviral and anti-depressant effects and may have anti-cancer properties.
Is kale high in vitamin C?
We all know how important vitamin C is. It’s a powerful water-soluble antioxidant, and the kale has more vitamin C than most other veggies and it has 4.5 times much of this vitamin as spinach.
So, kale is the king of vitamin C and it presents one of its best sources. If you decide to eat a cup of raw kale, you will consume more vitamin C than if you eat a whole orange. Pretty cool, right?
That doesn’t mean you should stop eating oranges, though. They are awesome too!
May reduce risk of heart diseases
One of many kale superpowers is the ability to bind bile acids in the digestive system. Now you probably wonder what bile acids are. So, here’s the explanation. Cholesterol makes bile acids and they help your body to digest fats.
More precisely, your liver turns cholesterol into bile acids. Then, when your body has finished with fat absorption, those little bile acids get reabsorbed into the bloodstream and then used all over again.
But, there are also substances known as bile acid sequestrants and they prevent bile acids to be reabsorbed. And here kale comes in.
It contains those sequestrants and that’s why kale can lower cholesterol in your body. All of that can potentially lead to a lower risk of heart diseases.
One study shows that if a person drinks kale juice every day for 12 weeks can increase their body’s HDL or the “good” cholesterol by 27%. The study also found that LDL levels were lowered by 10%.
There is also one more awesome thing. One study showed that steamed kale increases the bile acid-binding effect greatly. Therefore, it turned out kale has similar potency as a cholesterol-lowering drug.
So, learn how to cook kale, it may have great health benefits for your cardiovascular system.
Note: Don’t ever skip your medication because you added any vegetables to your diet. Always consult your doctor. Nothing can replace much-needed medications.
Is kale high in vitamin K?
Did you know that vitamin K is very important? It’s mandatory for blood clotting. Well, kale is a great source of this valuable vitamin.
One cup of raw kale includes about 7 times the RDA (recommended daily amount). But, you should know there are two types of vitamin K, and those are K1 and K2.
The form in kale is K1. On the other hand, vitamin K2 can be found in fermented soy foods and in some animal products. This vitamin is good for heart disease and osteoporosis prevention.
Kale is rich in beta-carotene
Many people believe that kale has a lot of vitamin A in it, but that is not quite true. It is actually high in beta-carotene, and the human body turns it into vitamin A. So, if you want your body to make more Vitamin A, give it some kale.
A good source of minerals
People can be deficient in many minerals. Luckily, kale has plenty of much-needed nutrients. So, kale is a good source of calcium, and calcium is very important for bone health.
It also has a nice amount of magnesium, and it’s worth a mention that many people have a magnesium deficiency.
Besides mentioned minerals, kale also contains a bit of potassium, a very important mineral that has been linked to reduced blood pressure and lower heart disease.
It is also very low in oxalate, which is a substance that can prevent mineral absorption. So, that’s one more advantage of this green veggie.
Does kale improve eyesight?
Many people get eyesight problems when they age. Luckily, some nutrients can be added to the diet and that way might prevent eyesight issues.
Nutrients that are good for your eyes are lutein and zeaxanthin, and you can find plenty of them in kale.
Some studies have found that eating enough of these two may lead to a lower risk of macular degeneration and cataracts. And these are the common eye issues among people.
Kale contains cancer-fighting compounds
It’s good to know that there is food that has cancer-preventing compounds. A kale’s compound, sulforaphane, has been shown it can help against cancer at its molecular level.
It also has a substance called indole-3-carbinol that is supposed to play a role in cancer prevention. Some studies say that cruciferous veggies may lower the risk of several cancers. Luckily, kale is one of them. But, you should bear in mind that evidence in people is mixed.
Kale may help in weight-loss
It is said that kale can be very beneficial when it comes to weight loss. Because it is a low-calorie but satiating food, kale is a nice option for a weight loss diet. It doesn’t have much protein and fiber, so that too helps in losing pounds.
But, there is no study that directly says what’s the kale’s effect on weight loss, so we can only assume that considering its structure.
The bottom line – Health Benefits of Kale
As you can see, kale is a pretty awesome veggie. It’s rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. You can very easily incorporate it into everyday meals. So, if you like cruciferous foods, then you’ve probably tried it so far.
Even though it’s healthy, any food should be eaten in moderation. If you have any health condition or allergies, consult your doctor about the ingredients you consume.
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