Health - Diet & Nutrition
By: - at July 31, 2013

The Health Benefits of Kale

KaleKale is known as “Queen of Greens”, “New Beef”, and “Nutritional Powerhouse". Kale belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family, the same as collards and broccoli. Even though you can find Kale throughout the year in markets, the main season for Kale is between mid-winter to the beginning of spring. Both the taste and availability is highest during Kale's prime season. It is easy to grow Kale and it grows well in colder climates that are less susceptible to frosts.

The major varieties of kale are curly, dinosaur, tuscan, lacinato, and ornamental Kale. Though a few more varieties are also available. Each variety of Kale has its own distinct appearance, texture, and taste. The botanical name of Kale is Brassica oleracea.

Curly Kale has a lighter green color with a pungent flavor and is similar to a bitter pepper.

Curly Kale:
Curly Kale

Ornamental Kale has leaves with colors in green, purple, or white. This has a tender texture and a mellow flavor.  This type of kale is the least used for eating.

Ornamental Kale in Bloom:
Ornamental Kale

Dinosaur Kale has leaves that are blue-green in color and have embossed textures. It is sweet and delicate in taste.  Dinosaur kale is the most popular form of kale for eating.

Dinosaur Kale:
Dinosaur Kale

Health Benefits of Kale

1)  Kale Has a Great Nutrient Profile
Kale has a high fiber content, does not have any fat content, and is low calorie. One cup of Kale contains 5 grams of fiber, zero fat, and 36 calories. Due to its rich fiber content, digestion improves and patients tend to have healthier digestive tracts. Kale also contains several other useful nutrients, along with essential vitamins, magnesium, and folate.

2)  Kale Has High Iron Content
The iron content in Kale per calorie is more than the iron present per calorie in beef. Iron is very good for health, since it augments the formation of enzymes and hemoglobin in your body. Moreover, iron helps in good cell growth, transportation of oxygen to all the parts of your body, proper liver function, as well as a healthier immune system.

3)  Kale Is a Great Source of Vitamin K
Another major ingredient of Kale is vitamin K. Studies reveal that Kale reduces the risk of at least five types of cancer:  namely, breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, ovary cancer, and cancer of the bladder. The glucosinolates present in Kale generate isothiocyanates (ITCs), which are believed to play a key role in lowering cancer rates. Further, vitamin K also improves a wide range of bodily functions, such as preventing blood clots and the maintaining healthy bones. Additionally, it has been found that higher levels of vitamin K can help those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, providing them with benefits that even include partial recovery of neurogenesis.

4)  Kale Has Powerful Antioxidants
Kale is full of powerful antioxidants. It is a known fact that antioxidants like flavonoids and carotenoids offer protection from several types of cancer. Researchers have identified more than 45 flavonoids in Kale, with quercetin and kaempferol heading the list of flavonoids. All the flavonoids in Kale have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits combined in them. Hence, they offer a lading dietary role for Kale in avoiding oxidative stress and chronic inflammation.

5)  Kale Has Great Anti-Inflammatory Benefits
Kale is an ideal anti-inflammatory food item. It has been estimated that one cup of Kale contain 10% of the important RDA of omega 3 type fatty acids, which are helpful in fighting asthma, arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases.

6)  Kale Reduces Cholesterol Levels
Kale provides excellent support for patients suffering from cardiovascular disorders, since Kale reduces cholesterol levels.

Bowl of Healthy Baked Kale Chips:
Baked Kale Chips

7)  Kale Has Plenty of Vitamin A
The vitamin A content of Kale is quite significant. Not only does vitamin A prevent oral cavities and different forms of lung cancer, but it also improves your vision. Furthermore, vitamin A is useful in maintaining healthy skin.

8)  Kale Has High Amounts of Vitamin C
The vitamin C content of Kale is also high, boosting your body's immune system, hydration, and overall metabolism. Additionally, vitamin C helps in improving joint and cartilage flexibility.

9)  Kale Is a Great Source of Calcium
The high level of calcium in per calorie of Kale compared to milk is a great aid in prevention of bone loss and osteoporosis, as well as maintaining a healthy metabolism.

10)  Kale is a Great Detoxifier
Kale is a very beneficial at detoxifying the body. The rich level of fiber and sulfur in Kale leads to amazing detoxification results. They also improve the overall health of your liver. The latest research has shown that the ITCs generated by the glucosinolates present in Kale are useful in regulating detoxifying at the genomic level. Moreover, Kale favorably modifies both phase I and phase II detox steps.

Kale also contains high amounts of chlorophyll, which also is great for detoxifying the body. Chlorophyll is the deep green pigment that you see in Kale. Chlorophyll is also great for purifying the blood.

Due to these huge health benefits, you should highly consider consuming Kale and other cruciferous vegetables at least 2 to 3 times every week as part of your regular diet. Each serving of Kale should be a minimum of 1½ cups. In fact, you could increase the intake of Kale to 4 to 5 times a week and the serving size to even 2 cups to reap even more health benefits from Kale.

Storing Kale

You should not wash Kale before storing it in refrigerator, since water exposure encourages spoilage. When storing it in the refrigerator put it in an air tight plastic bag up to 5 days.

Preparation of Cooking Kale

Start off by rinsing kale under running cold water before using it for cooking. You should cut the leaves of Kale into one-half inch slices and cut the stems into one-quarter inch length. You should keep them in this cut position for a minimum of 5 minutes to increase their health promotion qualities and then steam cook them for 5 minutes. You could also sprinkle the cut pieces of Kale with lemon juice and keep them for 5 minutes before steam cooking them. In just one cup of cooked Kale, which is about 130 grams, both the daily percentage value of nutrients as well as massive health benefits can be gained.

If you steam cook Kale, it offers unique cholesterol lowering benefits. The steaming process helps in binding the bile acids present in your digestive track with the rich fiber contents present in Kale. When you consume steam cooked Kale extracts the bile acids act more powerfully. This binding process causes more cholesterol to be lost in the body so patients will have much healthier results.

Bowl of Steamed Curly Kale:
Bowl of Steamed Curly Kale

Use Kale for Juices and Smoothies

Kale makes a great complement for juices and smoothies.  When using them in smoothies leave out the stem so it will have a better texture.  Juicing kale along with other healthy produce is a great way of getting all of kale's health benefits.

Using Kale for Juices and Smoothies

Opt for Organic Kale

Kale is a great example of a produce that should be bought organic instead of conventional.  Like most green leafy plants, choosing organic ensures you that the pesticide content will be dramatically lower, along with a higher nutrient density.

Conclusion

Since Kale is a green vegetable it is extremely healthy, and adds essential vitamins and minerals to your diet. Kale can be chopped and eaten like other vegetables or it can be made into a juice/smoothie. It has powerful anti-oxidants that can prevent cancer and other serious diseases. Kale is also great at flushing out your system, effectively cleansing the body of all sorts of contaminants. It can prevent cataracts and is very beneficial to your cardio-vascular system. It has anti-inflammatory benefits and can reduce or heal arthritis. Kale has Lutein properties in it, which is an anti-oxidant used to protect the skin from ultraviolet rays as well as promoting visual health.


 

 

 

 

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