health benefits of kale

Health Benefits of Kale

 Kale Health Benefits, Recipes and more

Many of you might have heard about kale and how beneficial its consumption can be for your health. So let’s learn more about this superfood and explore its nutritional content and various health benefits. Recipe suggestions are also included to inspire and inform you about the different ways in which you can prepare and cook this leafy vegetable.

What is Kale?

Kale or borecole is a leafy green or purple vegetable that botanically belongs to the Brassica family, a group of vegetables including cabbage, cauliflower, collards and Brussels sprouts. Its full scientific name is Brassica oleracea L. var. acephala D.C. Impressive, isn’t it? It is an annual plant that flourishes well in rich organic soil and prefers cool climate and light frost conditions.

Types of Kale

There are several types of kale which differ in taste, colour, texture and appearance. They include:

  • Curly Kale  – usually bright/dark green or purple colour
  • Lacianto Kale (also known as dinosaur or Tuscan kale) – dark blue-green leaves with a slightly wrinkled and firm texture
  • Red Russian Kale – flat, fringed leaves, large arugula leaves, or the outer leaves of a mature cabbage
  • Redbor Kale – dark red in colour which can also look deep purple
Nutritional Profile of Kale

Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables on the planet and it has been known since ancient Greek and Roman times. It’s low in calories and fat, with no cholesterol and a high antioxidant content. It is full of essential vitamins such as A, C and K as well as minerals like potassium, copper, iron, phosphorus, calcium and manganese. Kale is also a good source of fibre and protein.

nutritional table

Health Benefits

Kale is a source of:

  • Carotenoids

Lutein and zeaxanthin – these give its deep, dark green colour and act as antioxidants helping to protect against macular degeneration and cataracts ; Lutein also helps to support colon health

Beta-carotene – this is converted to Vitamin A as needed

Vitamin A is required for sebum production to keep hair moisturized. It is also necessary for the growth of all bodily tissues, including skin and hair

  • Flavonoids

Kaempferol and Quercetin – providing both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits thus protecting against chronic inflammation and oxidative stress

  • Folate

B vitamin, essential for brain development ; Helps in the making of red blood cells ; Aids synthesising and repairing of DNA ; Regulating of cell metabolism; Supports the immune system

  • Alpha-linolenic acid

An omega-3 fatty acid, which may help reduce inflammation and fight against arthritis, asthma and autoimmune disorders

  • Iron

Contributes towards good overall health by assisting in the formation of haemoglobin and enzymes, transportation of oxygen to various parts of the body, cell growth and proper liver function

  • Phytochemicals

Sulforaphane and Indole-3-Carbinol – provide protection against various cancers such as colon, prostate, breast, kidney, bladder and lung cancer; help detoxify the body

Reduce cholesterol levels by trapping cholesterol so that it cannot be recycled from the small intestine back into the liver. This may also contribute towards a lower risk of heart disease

Steaming kale instead of consuming it raw will increase its cholesterol-lowering effect

  • Alpha-lipoic acid

An antioxidant which has been shown to lower glucose levels, increase insulin sensitivity as well as to help prevent oxidative stress-induced changes in patients with diabetes

Alpha-lipoic acid can be an effective way of treating neuropathy (nerve pain or damage) associated with diabetes

It also increases or maintains levels of other antioxidants, particularly vitamin C and glutathione

  • Vitamin K

Contributes towards normal blood clotting and bone health as well as protection against certain cancers and neuronal damage in the brain (useful in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease)

  • Calcium

Aids in preventing bone loss, preventing osteoporosis and maintaining of healthy metabolism

  • Fibre

Aids in digestion and helps prevent constipation

  • Vitamin C

Powerful antioxidant which helps support the immune system, metabolism and hydration

It is also needed in the building of collagen, the main protein of connective tissue that provides structure to skin and hair

 Here is a summary of some of the many health benefits of consuming kale:

health benefits of kale poster

 

Precautions

Avoid eating large quantities of (raw) kale if you:

  • are on an anticoagulant medication/blood thinner. Kale is rich in vitamin K which can cause an interference
  • are experiencing thyroid problems. Kale, as other members of the cabbage family, contains goitrogens, naturally occurring substances which interfere with the function of the thyroid gland. Cooking helps to inactivate them
  • have a history of oxalate-containing kidney stones. Kale contains a significant amount of oxalate

Also remember to thoroughly wash kale before eating or even better try to go for organically grown one, as the levels of pesticide residue in conventionally grown kale can be high.

Finally, this is a great video to provide you with a quick overview on kale in addition to some useful tips on how to store and cook it. It also includes delicious recipe suggestions for you to try.

 

 

 

 

References:

1. What are the health benefits of kale? – http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270435.php

2. Popular Types of Kale and Their Health Benefits  – http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-food/popular-types-of-kale-and-their-health-benefits/

3. 10 Proven Health Benefits of Kale – http://authoritynutrition.com/10-proven-benefits-of-kale/

4. The Truth About Kale – http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/kale-nutrition-and-cooking?page=1

5. Top 10 Health Benefits of Eating Kale – http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4408/Top-10-Health-Benefits-of-Eating-Kale.html

6. Vitamin K – http://www.lef.org/magazine/2004/3/aas/Page-01

7. Health Benefits of Kale – http://thepaleogut.com/fruit-vegetables/health-benefits-kale/

8. Kale nutrition facts – http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/kale.html

9. Antioxidant Activities of Vitamin C and Lipoic Acid in the Body – http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/ss02/suh.html

10. Alpha-lipoic acid (1,2-Dithiolane-3-pentanoic acid)  –http://www.kalesnaturalfoods.com/ns/DisplayMonograph.asp?storeID=AD5DDB8ED2B24753A27A5747E28D0A62&DocID=alphalipoicacid

 

 

 

 

 

 

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