Kale is a leafy green member of the Brassica family, one of the cruciferous vegetables well known for their healthy sulfur-containing micro-nutrients. Experts now agree that cruciferous vegetables like kale should be a regular part of a healthy diet. Enjoy kale raw in salads, added to soup, lightly steamed or as part of a stir-fry dish. No matter how you eat it, Kale is one of the healthiest vegetables available. Here are a few of the health benefits of including kale as a regular part of your meal plan.
1. Kale Lowers Cholesterol
Kale contains components that bind bile acids, making them more easily excreted by the body. Excreting excess bile has the effect of lowering cholesterol in the body. One study showed that kale juice taken over a 3 month period increased the “good” HDL and decreased “bad” LDL cholesterol levels. Eating raw and juiced kale were both beneficial, but steamed kale had the strongest cholesterol-lowering effect.
2. Kale Fights Cancer
Health research on kale shows that it is an excellent source of at least four glucosinolates, sulforaphane, and indole-3-carbinol that provide proven cancer-fighting benefits. Recent studies have shown kale to have a cancer-fighting benefit against breast cancer, colon cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer and bladder cancer
3. Kale Helps Eliminate Toxins
Kale is shown to provide nutritional support for both phases of the cellular detoxification process. Isothiocyanates (ITCs) along with sulfur compounds in kale, help regulate cellular detoxification. Additionally, glucosinolates found in kale stimulate the liver enzymes that help eliminate toxins from the body.
4. Kale Has Powerful Anti-Inflammatory Effects
Kale is a nutritional powerhouse, containing at least 45 known flavonoids that have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Eating foods high in flavonoids has been shown to provide protection against a variety of diseases, including heart disease, cancer and type-2 diabetes.
Flavonoids found in kale include kaempferol and quercetin that provide powerful benefits against chronic inflammation. Additionally, lutein and zeaxanthin are protective of the eyes. Current research suggests that people who eat foods high in lutein and zeaxanthin have a reduced risk of aging effects on the eyes, such as macular degeneration and cataracts.
5. Kale is Heart Healthy
Kale is rich in fiber, potassium, and vitamins that support a healthy heart. In the United States, most adults are deficient in potassium. Increased potassium intake works with decreased sodium to lower the blood pressure. Add these benefits to the superior nutrition and cholesterol-reducing benefits of kale and it is easy to see why kale is considered a heart-healthy superfood.
6. Kale is High in Fiber
With 7 grams of fiber per 100 calories, kale provides significant benefits to the digestion. The high fiber and water content help promote a healthy digestive tract and prevents constipation.
7. Kale is a Vegan Source of Omega-3s
Kale is a vegetable source of alpha-linolenic acid or ALA, an essential omega-3 fatty acid. Omega-3s have significant health benefits. A 100 calorie serving of kale provides over 350 mg of ALA.
8. Kale is Rich in Vitamins
Calorie-for-calorie, kale is among the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. Eating only 1 cup of kale provides over 200% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for beta-carotene, 684 % of the RDA for Vitamin K, and 134% of the RDA for Vitamin C. Kale also contains Vitamin B1, B2, B3 and B6 along with numerous micro-nutrients and minerals.
9. Kale Provides Minerals
Kale is a good, plant-based source of calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, potassium, manganese and phosphorus. Calcium is important for bone health and cell metabolism. Magnesium is known to be protective against type-2 diabetes and heart disease. Most people do not get enough of these vital minerals in their diets.
10. Kale is Low in Oxalates
Many leafy greens, including spinach, contain oxalates, which lower the body’s ability to absorb minerals. Oxalates are also implicated in the formation of kidney stones. Eating kale on a regular basis provides the body with all the benefits of leafy green vegetables without the problems associated with oxalates.
The deep green color of kale only hints at the numerous health benefits available from the regular consumption of kale. From providing superior nutrition to preventing disease, kale earns its reputation as a superfood.