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Top 10 Benefits of Kale

Little known just a few years ago, kale has become a popular food.  It is a cruciferous vegetable, related to cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens and brussel sprouts. Among all the healthy greens, kale is one of the most nutritious. It is filled with beneficial compounds, many of which are medicinal in their health effects.

Here are the top 10 scientifically-proven benefits of eating kale:

1. Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense foods available. A single cup of raw kale contains:

  • Vitamin A: 206% of the RDA (from beta-carotene).
  • Vitamin K: 684% of the RDA.
  • Vitamin C: 134% of the RDA.
  • Vitamin B6: 9% of the RDA.
  • Manganese: 26% of the RDA.
  • Calcium: 9% of the RDA.
  • Copper: 10% of the RDA.
  • Potassium: 9% of the RDA.
  • Magnesium: 6% of the RDA.
  • It also contains 3% or more of the RDA for Vitamin B1 (Thiamin), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Iron and Phosphorus.

Yet a cup of raw kale has a total of 33 calories, 6 grams of carbs (2 of which are fiber) and 3 grams of protein.

2. Kale contains powerful antioxidants.

Antioxidants are substances that assist the body in fighting off oxidative damage by free radicals. Oxidative damage is implicated in ageing and a number of diseases, including cancer. Kale offers such antioxidants as quercetin, kaempferol, beta-carotene, vitamin C, flavonoids and polyphenols. Two of these, quercetin and kaempferol, are known to protect against heart disease, hypertension, inflammation, viruses, depression and cancer.

3. Kale is a great source of vitamin C.

This vitamin is a water-soluble antioxidant that is critical to health. Kale offers more vitamin C that most vegetables, with four and  a half times as much C as spinach. Kale is higher in C than a whole orange.

4. Kale lowers cholesterol.

Research has shown that daily consumption of kale juice for 12 weeks increases HDL, or “good” cholesterol, by 27 percent, and lowers LDL cholesterol by 10 percent, which provides protection against heart disease.

5. Kale is an excellent source of vitamin K.

A cup of raw kale contains nearly seven times the recommended daily intake of vitamin K1, which is critical for blood clotting.

6. Kale contains substances that fight cancer.

Kale contains sulfoaphane, which is known to fight the formation of cancer at the molecular level, and indole-3-carbinole, also believed to prevent cancer.

7. Kale is high in beta-carotene.

Kale provides beta-carotene, an antioxidant that is converted in the body into vitamin A.

8. Kale provides minerals often lacking in the modern diet.

Kale is a plant-based source of calcium, which is needed for bone health and a variety of cellular functions. If offers magnesium, which protects against type 2 diabetes and heart disease. It contains potassium, which is lined to a reduction in blood pressure and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

Unlike spinach and some other leafy greens, kale does not contain oxalates, which can prevent the absorption of minerals.

9. Kale protects the eyes.

Kale is high in lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients that protect the eyes as they age. People who have enough of these nutrients are at reduced risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.

10. Kale may help in weight loss.

Kale is lower in calories but high in fiber, providing bulk to help you feel full. It has a low energy density, and eating low-energy density foods have been proven to aid in weight loss.

Summary:

Kale is one of the most nutritious foods available. It can be eaten raw in salads, or cooked in a variety of recipes. Many people add it to smoothies to boost nutritional value.