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7 Health Benefits of Eating Kale

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Kale, also known as borecole, is a leafy green vegetable that is part of the Brassicaceae family, which also includes cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, collards, and Brussels sprouts. Considered a descendant of the wild cabbage, kale has been cultivated for over 2000 years and it is believed to have originated in Eastern Mediterranean or Asia minor.

By the Middle Ages, kale had widely spread through Europe and Asia and eventually was brought to the United States in the 17th century by English settlers. It became a popular vegetable during World War II and it was promoted because it was easy to grow and provided lots of nutrition.

There are many different types of kale, ranging in colours from green to purple leaves, as well having a variety of different shapes and textures.

The most common type of kale is curly kale or Scots kale, which has green and curly leaves with a hard, fibrous stem. The pale green stems are tough and typically removed, while the tightly curled leaves are chewy yet succulent.

The common Kale found in the most grocery stores is pale to deep green with large, ruffle-edged leaves and long stems.

The taste of kale also varies depending on the variety and how it is prepared. In general, kale has an earthy, fresh flavor and it is slightly bitter when eaten raw. However, kale can be delicious and flavorful when it’s been cooked.

Kale can be prepared in many different ways. It can be steamed, boiled, or sautéed. Kale is delicious when added to soups and casseroles, and it goes well with cheese and other vegetables. To maximize the nutritional content of kale, it’s best eaten raw or very lightly cooked.

Nutritional Value of Kale

Kale is an excellent source of vitamin A and vitamin K. One cup of chopped raw kale provides more than 100% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamins A and K.

In addition, kale is a great source of many other important nutrients, such as vitamin C, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, and phosphorus.

According to the USDA Nutrient Database, one cup (20.6 grams) of raw kale contains:

  • 7.2 calories
  • 0.6 g of protein
  • 0.9 g of carbohydrate
  • 0.8 g of fiber
  • 49.6 mcg of vitamin A
  • 19.2 mg of vitamin C
  • 80.3 mcg of vitamin K
  • 52.3 mg of calcium
  • 0.33 mg of iron
  • Health Benefits of Kale

    1. Prevents cancer

    Kale contains a range of phytochemicals, which are known to have anti-cancer properties. One of these is sulforaphane, a compound that has been shown to inhibit the growth of several cancer cells, such as breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer and bladder cancer [1].

    Indole-3-carbinol (I3C) is another compound found in kale that has been studied for its potential role in cancer prevention. For example, a 4-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 57 women found that a minimum dose of 300 mg of I3C daily may be necessary to reduce risk of breast cancer [2].

    In addition, I3C has been shown to suppress the growth of prostate cancer cells by inducing G1 cell cycle arrest leading to apoptosis, and regulates the expression of apoptosis-related genes [3].

    2. Supports heart health

    The powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of kale make it a perfect food for promoting heart health. Several studies have confirmed that adding kale to your diet regularly can lower your LDL (bad cholesterol) while increasing your HDL (good cholesterol).

    One study in 149 people with metabolic syndrome found that consuming 14g of kale powder every day for 8 weeks significantly reduced the levels of LDL cholesterol, along with blood pressure, belly fat, and fasting blood sugar levels [4].

    Another study has found that kale could also decrease blood pressure and blood sugar levels, both of which are major risk factors for heart disease [5].

    3. Promotes eye health

    Kale is known to contain a significant amount of vitamin A, which promotes eye health. A 100g serving of raw kale contains more than 100% of the recommended daily intake.

    In addition, kale is loaded with carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which help protect against age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and other age-related eye diseases.

    4. Maintains strong bones and teeth

    Kale is a good source of plant-based calcium, which is needed for strong bones and teeth. Kale is also high in vitamin K; just one cup of raw kale gives you a whopping 80.3mcg of vitamin K, which is over 66% of the vitamin K RDA for adult men and nearly 90% of the vitamin K RDA for adult women. Studies suggest that vitamin K works with vitamin D to support healthy bone metabolism [6].

    5. Boosts the immune system

    Due to its high vitamin C content, kale can help strengthen the immune system and ward off infections. Kale contains four times the vitamin C content and twice the selenium content of spinach, as well as nutrients like vitamin E and beta-carotene. These are all important for supporting a healthy immune system.

    6. Prevents anemia

    Dark leafy vegetables, such as kale, are naturally rich in non-heme iron. This nutrient aids in the formation of red blood cells, which transport oxygen around the body.

    To promote iron absorption in the digestive system, you must consume foods that are high in vitamin C, like citrus fruit, peppers, strawberries, and cruciferous vegetables.

    7. Promotes liver health

    Kale is rich in antioxidants and chlorophyll, both great for supporting your body’s natural detoxification process and keeping your liver healthy. Kale is also packed with vitamins A, C, and K. These nutrients help protect liver cells from damage and aid in the detoxification process.

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