Written by: Kat Gal
Have you heard that kale is not only the trendiest, but also one of the healthiest greens out there?
It’s true – kale is a versatile supergreen abundant in nutritional benefits.
Recent research has found that several of the most common causes of death, including coronary heart disease and cancer, can be prevented through a proper, nutritious and adequate diet.
A healthy diet can also help you to prevent and fight chronic illnesses, as well as temporary issues, like the common cold. Kale is undeniably an essential part of a healthy diet and an easy way to meet a multitude of nutritional requirements.
What Is kale?
Kale is one of the top superfoods on the list; it is a dark, leafy, green, cruciferous vegetable that, due to mainstream nutritional education, has become increasingly popular throughout research.
Did you know that only 1 cup of kale may provide you with an entire week’s worth of nutrients that you can’t get from any other foods? Kale is abundant in vitamins, minerals and DNA cell-repairing phytonutrients.
Types Of Kale:
- Curly Kale: Curly kale is the most popular and common form of kale found in U.S. grocery stores, recognizable by its ruffled edges. It is easier to tear it than chop it. Most commonly, it comes in a dark green color, but you can also find purple varieties. This is potentially the best kale for juicing and making kale chips. It is also great in smoothies, salads and stir-fries.
- Lacinato Kale: Lacinato kale is also known as dinosaur kale. It is long, narrow and mostly flat with even edges. Though it still has that typical bitter, dark green kale taste, it is sweeter than curly kale. Because of its share, texture and bitter-sweet taste, this is my favorite to add to salads. It is excellent in juices, smoothies and stir-fries and because it is flat, it is also great in sandwiches and wraps.
- Red Russian Kale: Red russian kale is flat and resembles arugula or oak leaves more than either of the previously mentioned kales. The stems are purple while the leaves are more green or greenish purple. The leaves are much thinner than in the curly or dinosaur varieties. Red russian kale is also the sweetest of all. The stems can be difficult to digest, so it is the best to focus on the leaves instead. Because it is so thin and flat, it is excellent for sandwiches, wraps and salads, however, you can also use them for juicing, smoothies and stir-fries as you wish.
- Redbor Kale: Redbor kale has a beautiful purple color and resembles a mix of a curly kale and a rainbow chard. Though this kale is edible, it is mainly used as an ornament plant for garden decoration. The best way to use it is to decorate your salads and meals with some edible purple color rather than making a meal out of it.
Some of the most potent nutrients found in kale include:
- Vitamin K (684% of the daily recommended amount)
- Vitamin A (206% of the daily recommended amount)
- Vitamin C (134% of the daily recommended amount)
- Less than 35 calories total
- 2.9 grams of protein
- 329 mg of potassium
Reading this incredible list, I bet that you are convinced that you need to eat more kale. Chances are you will be reaching into the fridge or running to the farmer’s market to get your daily kale in. Don’t worry, at the end of the article, you will find some exciting ways to incorporate kale into your healthy diet.
Here Are 9 Surprising Benefits Of Kale
1. Kale May Help Healing Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death and 12% (or 1 in 8) of women will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime. The good news is that kale can protect and help you recover from breast cancer.
Kale’s cancer-fighting super power, a phytochemical called sulforaphane, which is a powerful antioxidant that stimulates natural detoxifying of enzymes, helps your body to stay healthy. Sulforaphane is not only generally good for you, but can also modulate breast cancer.
It’s been found that sulforaphane inhibits certain enzymes called histone deacetylases (HDACs), which in turn improves the manifestation of tumor suppressor genes that are usually silenced in cancer cells. According to a 2010 research study, sulforaphane reduced the positive cell population of human breast cancer cells by an incredible 65-80%.
Thanks to these phytochemicals, kale may help to overturn tumor growth and block cancer-causing substances and help keep you cancer-free.
2. Vitamin K
Kale is unbelievably abundant in vitamin K with 680% of you daily value in just one cup. While many vegetables are more nutritionally available raw, kale is an exception. If you cook it, it increases to over 1300% of the daily vitamin K value.
Did you know that there are two types is vitamin K? Vitamin K1 and K2.
Vitamin K1 can be found in many leafy greens and some other vegetables, including:
- Collard greens
- Brussel sprouts
Vitamin K2 can be found in:
Vitamin K2 found in these animal products are later being synthesized with bacteria.
Both K1 and K2 are important for blood clotting and preventing excessive bleeding. But if you are vegan and don’t consume animal products, you still don’t have to worry about K2 found in meat, cheese and eggs. It’s been found that, thanks to some bacteria, your body will convert K1 into K2.
You simply have to make sure to consume enough vitamin K1 through kale and other greens listed above. If you are worried, K2 supplementation is also available.
3. Vitamin A
Vitamin A is another important vitamin that is abundant in kale. You can get over double (206%) of your daily intake from one cup.
Vitamin A is essential for a multitude of your biological functions. It is a retinoid, necessary for your ocular health. You have likely heard of beta-carotene, a commonly known form of vitamin A. It is a crucial factor in pigmentation, as well as in the neurological communication in your retina.
By consuming an abundance of vitamin K, you may be able to prevent the deterioration of your vision in old age.
4. DNA Cell Repair
Kale can prevent problems in the sequence of your DNA by giving your cells the nutrients they need to make necessary adjustments. Some phytochemicals in kale may help the protein development your cells require for DNA repair.
Others are involved in the prevention of cellular proliferation, which is directly correlated to the development of cancer in your body. Therefore, with DNA repair, kale can help prevent and fight cancer.
5. High In Soluble Fiber
Kale is also very low in calories (36 calories in a cup), but high in fiber (5 grams in a cup), which is necessary for healthy digestion and a functioning body.
Fiber is absolutely necessary for your gastrointestinal and cardiovascular health. When it is dissolved in your small intestine, it binds to the acids found in your bile. Fiber also helps to oxidize many of the lipids, including cholesterol found in your blood stream, therefore, it is linked to lowering cholesterol.
Iron is one of those minerals that vegans, vegetarians, woman and athletes are warned to be worried about. The truth is that with an adequate, nutritious diet, there is no need for this worry. Even a vegetarian or vegan diet can meet necessary iron requirements and kale is here to help you.
Iron binds to oxygen, getting your food directly to you red blood cells, forming hemoglobin. Red blood cells and hemoglobin are responsible for transporting oxygen to be absorbed throughout your body.
Oxygen is necessary for life and the more you have in your blood, the better your biological functions will be carried out. Kale is high in iron content and therefore, keeps your red blood cells healthy and your body energetic.
Antioxidants are absolutely non-negotiable for your health.
The “oxidant” element of the word antioxidant refers to the method of oxidation that absorbs electrons from other molecules, removing one of the necessary atomic components in these molecules. The “anti” part refers to the stopping of this oxidation process in other molecules.
Oxidation can be dangerous because it can lead to the formation of free radicals, which are a harmful group of molecules with an odd number of electrons. When free radicals interact with oxygen, it can lead to a series of chain reactions that can eventually invade your cellular DNA and make all sorts of dangerous changes to your cells.
Antioxidants are necessary because they remove electrons from the free radicals and neutralize the chain reaction.
Understanding the oxidation process and free radical damage, you now understand why antioxidants are so essential. Kale is powerful because it is packed with antioxidants. One of the essential antioxidants found in kale is vitamin C.
8. Vitamin C
You learned that vitamin C is good for you as a child when your mom made you drink orange juice. But did you know that vitamin C is found in many other fruits and vegetables, including kale?
According to a study in the journal Acta Scientiarum Polonorum Technologia Alimentaria, kale is an excellent source of some of the most important antioxidants, including Vitamin C, polyphenols, beta carotene and many others.
The same research had found that cooking kale drastically reduces the presence and activity of antioxidants, suggesting that it is best to consume kale raw to maximize the nutritional and antioxidant benefits. However, cooking kale is not bad for you either; as mentioned earlier, vitamin K actually becomes more available when kale is cooked.
Other research from the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found the presence of 45 different flavonoids. Flavonoids are types of antioxidants that are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. They are found in kale and two other relatives of kale, collard greens and Chinese broccoli.
Mainstream media wants you to believe that calcium has been found in milk and only milk. However, in the last decade, there has been an increasing amount of questions and doubts that have been raised about the true impact and potential damage of dairy on human health and the environment, urging us to look for calcium elsewhere.
Calcium is undoubtedly vital for your health; as stated by the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, it is the fifth most abundant element in your body. Calcium is essential for your musculoskeletal health and bone strength. It prevents deterioration that can lead to osteoporosis.
The good thing is that there are plenty of plant-based sources of calcium. Kale is not only one of these, but also comes out at the top as a superhero of calcium-containing foods.
According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that compared the absorption of calcium when consuming milk and when consuming kale, calcium in kale was much more absorptive than the calcium in milk. Though the study had only examined 11 women, the results suggest that you can find ample calcium in kale and your body can also absorb higher quantities of calcium than one of the more commonly sought out sources of the nutrient.
How To Use Kale
You can enjoy it:
- In a stir-fry
- As a straight up kale juice
- In your green smoothies
- In your green juices
- In rice, potato, or pasta dishes
- In the form of one of the most popular and nutritious snacks out there, kale chips
Here is my favorite green juice recipe with plenty of kale:
- 2 large cucumbers
- One big fistful of kale
- 4 stalks of celery
- 1 handful of romaine lettuce
- 1 broccoli stem
- 1 green apple
- 1-inch ginger
- 1 lemon
- Wash your ingredients.
- Chop them if needed (depending on the size of your juicer’s opening).
- Juice them.
- Drink up.
The Verdict On Kale
Research studies and personal stories show that kale truly is a superfood and a supergreen. It can greatly improve your health, protect you from multiple health conditions and aid your body to fight existing disease. Your entire body, including your heart, brain, bones and blood can benefit from consuming plenty of kale on a daily basis.
With all of this evidence, it is safe to say that kale really does live up to the lofty nutritional claims that its advocates often make. It has the ability to drastically improve the health of multiple different body systems and can protect you from numerous conditions that can be hazardous to your quality of life.
What’s on the menu this week? After reading this article, I truly hope that your answer includes kale. Your body will thank you, believe me.
What’s your favorite way to eat kale? Share your tips and recipes in the comments below. As always, we would love to hear from you!
You deserve to live a happy and healthy life and Kat is here to show you how to do that. Kat invites you to join the “Happiness Tribe: 2016, the Year of Happiness” on Facebook to create your best year yet within a supportive sisterhood. For more health and happiness tips, visit her website and check out her best-selling program, Your 21-Day Mind-Body-Soul Shake-Up. To contact her for writing assignments, check out her freelance writing website.
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