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Gone are the days of unceremoniously disregarding kale as a finishing garnish at fancy restaurants. Kale, which is known to the science community as Brassica oleracea var. Sabellic, is a type of cabbage that requires manipulation before consumption. That’s not to say kale must be cooked prior to consumption. In fact, kale salads are a popular preparation, however, the thick, dark levels are most tender when massaged with oil to break up the tough fibers. Kale is a superfood packed with nutrients and antioxidants that provide many powerful health benefits. Check out a few reasons you might want to add kale to your diet.
Important Note: The health benefits noted herein are supported by the most current scientific research at the time of this publication.
- Highly Nutritious
- Packed With Antioxidants
- Reduces Risk of Heart Disease
- Incredible Source of Vitamin K
- Anti-Cancer Properties
- Supportive of Weight Loss
- Unlikely Benefits: Further Research Needed
A superfood is defined as a nutrient-rich food dense in compounds that benefit one’s overall health. It’s no surprise that kale is categorized as a superfood because it is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that deliver many incredible health benefits. Significantly, kale contains over 200% of the daily recommended value of vitamin A, nearly 700% of the daily recommended value of vitamin K, and a whopping 134% of the daily recommended value of vitamin C per serving. Kale also contains respectable concentrations of vitamin B6, manganese, calcium, and copper. Moreover, kale is rich in magnesium and potassium. Other nutrients found in trace amounts include thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, iron, and phosphorus. What’s more, kale has a low calorie, carbohydrate, and fat content per serving. What little fat is contained in kale is composed of the omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid. Considering its incredible nutrient profile and its low calorie and fat content, kale is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet and certainly worth a place in your diet.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. Categorically a superfood, kale is packed with nutrients that are good for many facets of your health.
Packed With Antioxidants
If you add kale to your diet for no other reason, do so for the powerful antioxidants contained. If you’re not sure what antioxidants are, they’re the plant compounds that fight the harmful free radicals and reduce oxidative stress that may otherwise lead to chronic illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Notably, kale is rife with the anti-oxidative flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol; research has connected these two compounds to protect the heart from disease, reducing blood pressure, anti-inflammation, and anti-cancer functions.
Furthermore, kale is rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant that serves many important benefits. It’s a well-known fact that vitamin C is important to the health of your immune system. Besides that, however, vitamin C is essential to the production of collagen, the body’s most abundant protein; collagen is essential to bone, cartilage, tendon, skin, and muscle health.
Another antioxidant found in high concentrations in kale is beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. Notably, vitamin A is essential to many bodily functions, including eye health, immunity, and healthy skin. Last, kale is also rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, powerful antioxidants that protect your eyes from macular degeneration and cataracts among other eye diseases.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. Undoubtedly, kale’s greatest brag is that it’s loaded with powerful antioxidants that protect your body in several ways.
Reduces Risk of Heart Disease
Kale is also rich in a substance called bile acid sequestrants, which lower cholesterol levels. Because well-managed cholesterol is essential to heart health, kale may inadvertently lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. In a study wherein subjects consumed a serving of kale juice every day for 12 weeks, researchers found improved “good” cholesterol levels, reduced “bad” cholesterol levels, and higher antioxidant levels. A subsequent study noted that steaming kale enhanced the bile acid sequestrant strength and further improved its cholesterol-lowering effect.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. Besides kale’s powerful antioxidants, the bile acid sequestrants also work hard to reduce risk factors, namely cholesterol levels, of cardiovascular disease.
Incredible Source of Vitamin K
Kale is considered one of the Earth’s richest sources of vitamin K, a nutrient vital to blood clotting. It’s so important, in fact, that the world’s leading anticoagulation pharmaceutical blocks vitamin K when indicated. Notably, just one serving of raw kale contains over seven times the daily recommended value of vitamin K. Other benefits of adequate vitamin K intake include the prevention of heart disease, osteoporosis, liver cancer, vascular calcifications, and the list goes on.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. Kale contains astounding concentrations of vitamin K, a nutrient important to blood clotting and some chronic illnesses.
Kale is loaded with several anti-cancerous properties. Besides being packed with antioxidants that fend off the harmful free radicals that could lead to some cancers, kale is rich in sulforaphane. This substance has been shown in laboratory studies to inhibit the formation of cancer cells altogether. Moreover, kale contains a second cancer-fighting substance called indole-3-carbinol, which some studies have proven to prevent cancer too.
General Consensus: 3.5/5 and here is why. Several laboratory studies have concluded the aforementioned substances prevent cancer, however, human studies are needed.
Supportive of Weight Loss
Kale’s low calorie, low carbohydrate, and low fat content, coupled with its nutrient density, makes it inherently supportive of weight loss. Also, kale contains adequate amounts of protein and fiber, both of which create a longer-lasting feeling of fullness that may stop you from consuming unnecessary calories throughout the day. Furthermore, kale has a high water content, which, coupled with its low calorie count, gives it a low energy density; in several studies, foods with a low energy density have proven to aid in weight loss.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. Kale’s nutrient-density, low energy density, and low calorie content make it an ideal food in your weight-loss diet.
Unlikely Benefits: Further Research Needed
Improves Hair Health
General Consensus: 2.5/5 and here is why. While it’s true that hair health benefits from vitamin K, a nutrient kale is rich in, there are too few studies connecting kale to hair health to declare this benefit with confidence.