Health Benefits of Kale
Kale is renown as a “nutritional powerhouse” for numerous reasons. It’s also known as “the queen of greens” which too is correct. Here are a few health benefits of kale from which it will be clear why kale has been labeled so.
Kale Wards Off Depression
A Columbia University psychiatrist is a great supporter of kale and explains that people love kale so much because its nutrients help make them feel optimistic and keep depression away. One of the reasons of why kale helps with mood is because of its phytonutrients. They generate carotenoids and as per the recent studies at Harvard University, carotenoids are associated to uplifting of mood.
Kale is also loaded with omega-3 fatty acids which can be extremely helpful in fighting the depression symptoms.
The blend of iron, protein, vitamin B6 and folate found in kale can produce more dopamine and serotonin. These two compounds interact in the brain and help elevate mood.
Kale and Diabetes
Diabetes occurs when the body is unable to produce adequate insulin because of which glucose level in blood shoots up.
Glucose in food should be converted to energy in order to make a person live and stay healthy.
There is some research available to show that kale can benefit in diabetes.
According to Reader’s Digest, sulforaphane, a compound occurring in kale controls the anti-inflammatory acid, which affects blood sugar.
Though this research is not very extensive, the fact is that kale can help in diabetes in other ways because it consists of vitamins A, C and K, fiber, beta-carotene, manganese and zeaxanthin, all of which help control glucose.
Kale is Packed with Vitamin C
If a person is experiencing bleeding gums, fatigue or muscle pain, the person is not getting enough vitamin C. Vitamin C deficiency results in many other disorders too. Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is a powerful antioxidant and its benefits in common cold are well-known. Kale is loaded with vitamin C and provides vitamin C in more amount than oranges.
134% of the daily recommended dosage of vitamin C can be obtained from a cup of kale while an average-sized orange contains only 113%, despite the fact that a standard orange weighs 131gm and a cup of kale weighs only 67gm. This means kale has twice more vitamin C than that in an orange.
Kale is a Storehouse of Nutrients
Kale contains many other nutrients which together make kale extremely healthy.
Vitamin A: Vitamin A is essential to keep one’s vision and skin healthy. It also prevents lung and mouth cancers and keeps liver healthy.
Vitamin B6: Vitamin B6 is important for health of brain, hormones including norepinephrine, serotonin and melatonin and to help maintain the natural clock of human body.
Vitamin K: This vitamin provides strong bones and helps prevent heart disease.
Calcium: Calcium makes bones and teeth stronger and helps blood to clot.
Manganese: Manganese fights against blood thrombosis and regulates sex hormones.
Copper: Copper is essential to keep one’s bones and immune system healthy. It also helps body in the production of RBCs.
Magnesium: Magnesium induces reactions of 300 enzymes and also helps with thousands of other biochemical reactions in the body. It’s also important for metabolism of nutrients, muscle contractions and other body functions such as production of energy.
Potassium: Potassium helps maintain body’s normal balance. It’s also an electrolyte and regulates body fluid.
All these vitamins and minerals are found in kale.
Kale Helps Fight Cancer
Kale is a great source of ogranosulfur compounds. These compounds are extremely helpful in fighting various types of cancer, especially colon cancer, the most dangerous type of cancer. Organosulfur breaks down into isothiocyanates which are helpful in killing cancer cells. Kale helps lessen the chances of lung cancer by 39%. Besides this, kale helps strengthens immune system which can further help in fighting against cancer.
Kale Fights Heart Disease
Kale is packed with vitamins B6 and C, and potassium. Vitamins B6 and C are great for heart health.
In a study, Mark Houston, MD, MS from Vanderbilt Medical School observed that individuals who were given 4,069mg of potassium every day had a 49% reduction in ischemic heart disease as compared to those who were given less.
Potassium is also beneficial in preventing stroke.
20% of individuals who consume potassium in high quantities live longer. Only 1 cup of kale contains 349mg of potassium.
Kale Helps in Losing Weight
Kale is loaded with dietary fiber. Each cup of it consists of 2.4 grams of dietary fiber which is almost 10% of what everyone needs to consume in an everyday 2,000 calorie diet. Dietary fiber decreases appetite and thus helps in losing weight.
As observed by Harvard University, kale contains a lot of proteins too which also make one feel full, thereby controlling weight.
There are only 33 calories in one cup of kale.
Users can add kale to chicken broth, vegetable soup or even tomato paste and it will help them feel full and thus lose weight.
Kale for Healthy Eyes
Lutein and zeaxanthin in kale are essential for eye health. These two nutrients are present in everyone’s eyes and are also in kale. Both of them make the plant a bit yellowish.
It also consists of vitamin C and many other antioxidants that help in protecting one’s eyes from UV rays.
Moreover, kale helps one’s body fight against pollution and also cigarette smoke.
Healthy Pregnancy with Kale
Being loaded with nutrients, kale is one of the best prenatal foods. Its nutrients maintain mother’s health as well as help in delivering a healthy child.
The following three types of kale should be regularly taken by an expecting mother.
Curly: This type of kale is the most common and is typically bright green or dark purple in color. Its leaves are tightly ruffled and are easy to tear. It can be stir-fried, or made into soups and smoothies.
Lacinato: Lacinato kale is also known as dinosaur kale because it is solid and scaly in texture. Its color is dark blue-green and flavor is stronger than curly kale. Its leaves are usually flat and longer and remain so even after cooking. It can be sautéed in salads and made into kale chips.
Red Russian: Red Russian kale has thinner and flat leaves resembling oak leaves that have a bit of purple stalks and red tinge. These stalks are not usually consumed due to their hard texture. However, leaves are delicious when added to sandwiches, soups, juices or salads or even for garnishing.
Kale Lowers Cholesterol
Due to the high fiber content of kale, it’s great for
cleansing and detoxifying the body and also helping reduce cholesterol. It collects excess cholesterol compounds from your gut and pushes them out in the excretion process.
While kale can lower cholesterol in both forms – raw and cooked, according to a new study, it offers the highest benefit when steamed because the fiber content in steamed kale attaches better to bile in the digestive tract and removes cholesterol in more amount and more effectively.
Kale for Bone Health
Because of its high calcium content, kale is good for bone health too. So also, it’s rich in vitamin K which reduces the risk of fracture, improves calcium absorption and decreases urinary excretion of calcium.
Calcium in kale helps prevent bone loss and also maintains a healthy alkaline environment and metabolism in the body.
One cup of kale contains the same amount of calcium as that in one cup of cow’s milk.
Kale for the Health of Skin and Hair
Sulfur found in kale detoxifies skin, reduces scars and produces collagen. Beta-carotene, a carotenoid occurring in high quantities in kale is converted to vitamin A by the body as required.
One cup of cooked kale offers 885 mcg of retinol A, the nutrient important for the growth of tissues, including skin and hair, and also in the generation of sebum, the skin oil which keeps hair and skin moisturized and smooth.
Another vitamin essential for skin health is vitamin C. There is 53.3 mg of vitamin C in a cup of cooked kale and this is required for building and maintaining collagen, the protein that keeps skin healthy and youthful, and also helps in wound healing. Vitamin C also helps in iron absorption.
Kale is packed with vitamin C as well as iron and thus prevents hair loss occurring due to iron deficiency.
Kale for the Protection of DNA
A study has shown that vitamin C or ascorbic acid exerts the activity of preventing IMA-induced DNA damage. Furthermore, the increased concentrations of hepatic lutein due to kale can also be associated to protection against DNA damage. However, this connection is only at a hypothetical level and is yet to be demonstrated.
Despite the fact that kale offers numerous health benefits, it should not be consumed in excess. Consuming large amounts of leafy greens can result in gas, constipation and bloating as per one study.
Also, those who are on blood thinners should eat kale carefully because kale contains vitamin K that promotes blood clotting.
Kale also consists of oxalates, compounds that are sometimes associated to kidney stones and gallstones. To reduce the potential problems caused by oxalates, it’s recommended to chew kale well and take rest between meals.