Kale, a once obscure winter green, has been rising in popularity for the past few years. From McDonalds and Booster Juice to the most upscale restaurant, kale is appearing on every menu and has almost become too trendy to take seriously!
But I’m here to tell you, kale is a superfood to be taken seriously and it’s here to stay!
The health benefits of kale are undeniable, no other green vegetable comes close to the amount and variety of nutrients offered up by its dark, crinkly leaves. Beyond the natural vitamins, minerals and fibre, kale contains healing plant compounds that elevates it to superstar status!
Noteworthy Health Benefits of Kale
Weight Loss: One cup of kale has only 36 calories and zero grams of fat, which makes it a great diet aid. Furthermore, one cup contains nearly 20% of the RDA of dietary fiber, which promotes regular digestion, prevents constipation, and lowers blood sugar and curbs overeating.
Bone Health: Vegans will appreciate kale as being one of the best sources of plant-based calcium. 1 cup cooked kale has over 100 mg of calcium. Furthermore, kale is a rich source of other bone-building nutrients such as Vitamin K, phosphorous and zinc. In particular, Kale is exceptionally high in Vitamin K, one cup provides over 1000% of the RDI for Vitamin K! Vitamin K is important for the synthesis of osteocalcin, a protein that strengthens the composition of our bones.
Nutrition Tip: Kale contains oxalic acids, an organic acid found in leafy green like kale, spinach, chard and beet greens, which binds with the calcium and other minerals and reduces its absorption. Cooking kale, rather than eating it raw, helps to break down oxalic acids, thereby increasing the absorption rate of this and other important minerals. Kale can be steamed or cooked in broth with some garlic.
Antioxidant Protection: Kale is a superstar in the arena of antioxidants, particularly vitamin C and beta-carotene and vitamin A. One cup of kale contains over 200% of the RDI for Vitamin C and Vitamin A. Antioxidants counteract the damage of free radicals. Every day weare exposed to free radical molecules fromchemical and toxins in the pollution, water and food that enters our body. These cause oxidative damage to cells and has been linked to everything from cardiovascular disease and cancer to cataracts and Alzheimer’s.
Nutrition Tip: Beta-carotene can be absorbed more easily if kale is cooked in a little oil. Also pulverizing kale in a blender to make a smoothie breaks down the cell walls, releasing more nutrients.
Cardiovascular Health: antioxidants like Vitamin C found in kale protects blood vessels from oxidative damage and normalizes cholesterol and blood pressure. The high fibre content of kale, binds to bile acids produced by the liver, effectively removing excess cholesterol from the body. Vitamin K also prevents calcium build-up in our tissue that can lead to atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Detox: Kale is a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables. Like it’s cousins broccoli, bok choy, cabbage and cauliflower, kale is rich in glucosinolates, a natural sulphur compound which converts to indoles in the body. Indoles has several detoxifying benefits including these:
- Critical for phase 2 liver detoxification, whichenables the removal of toxins from the body.
- Anti-inflammatory –interferes with the production of inflammatory compounds e.g. arachidonic acid
- Inactivates carcinogens that enter our body e.g. carcinogenic xenoestrogens from plastics (BPA, phthalates) and pesticides
- Prevents tumour formation and metastasis
With all these health benefits, kale definitely deserves frequent appearances on our plates and in our smoothies! Check out my other blog posts for tips on cooking with kale and using kale in smoothies.