Dark leafy greens are supposedly the most nutritionally dense vegetables. They come with many health benefits, and kale is no exception. What is kale, and what gives it the top position it takes up in so many salad and green juice recipes nowadays? Join us to explore.
What is kale?
Kale stems from the plant brassica oleracea, which is also called ‘mustard plant’, and is of the same family as other vegetables such as broccoli, brussels sprouts and cabbage. It is a vegetable that is distinguished by its broad, curly leaves, and although it is more commonly seen in its dark green version, it can also be seen in deep purple, blue-green, or red-purple. In Hong Kong, there is another vegetable that is quite familiar to kale: ‘gai-lan’, also called ‘Chinese kale’ or ‘Chinese broccoli’, although the nutritional makeup is different due to being grown differently, they are of the same family.
Here are some of the super health benefits of kale:
1. kale is packed with micronutrients
Kale naturally has good quantities of nutrients such as vitamin A, C, K, as well as a wide range of key minerals such as magnesium, manganese, iron, copper, and phosphorus, plus other antioxidants. For vitamin C, which we need for a good immune system, just consuming 1 cup of kale brings you over 100% of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA). Likewise, for vitamin A, which helps with cell metabolism and supports brain health, one cup of kale can provide over 200% of our RDA!
2. Detoxifies the body
Kale is a great source of fiber; for every 1 cup of it, there is 2.5g of dietary fiber. In contrast, spinach contains 0.7g of dietary fiber per 1 cup, so you can see the difference. Being high in fiber allows better movement of wastes in the digestive system, helping to reduce chances of constipation. Kale also contains phytonutrients such as kaempferol and quercetin, which help to minimize inflammation due to eating too much animal protein and processed foods, and also help to cleanse blood due to having more alkaline qualities.
3. Great for eye health
For good vision and healthy eyes, it is important that we have a sufficient intake of beta-carotene and vitamin A. Other than containing these nutrients, kale also contains one of the highest amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin, which are crucial nutrients responsible for shieling eye tissues from UV damage, as well as preventing the chances of developing cataracts.
4. Kale is especially high in vitamin K
Vitamin K is a nutrient necessary to us to help our blood clot, and kale is a food source that contains amounts of vitamin K that are considerably higher than other foods. If blood clotting is not efficient, it means that there is a higher chance of uncontrolled bleeding when we become wounded and encounter any events that cause us to lose blood. Having an inefficient clotting mechanism also mean that our blood may tend to be thinner, causing a higher likelihood of low blood pressure, meaning that we may be more prone to feel dizzy, or even faint. That’s why it is so important to try to have a balanced diet, with sufficient of macro- and micro-nutrients.
5. Heart healthy
According to research, eating kale is able to bring about a decrease in LDL cholesterol which is considered ‘bad’ cholesterol that can build up in our blood vessels, causing risks of heart disease to increase. Kale contains properties that help to increase HDL cholesterol, thus improving the process of removing LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream.
6. Helps fight cancer
Kale has been found to contain cancer fighting compounds that function to disrupt the growth of cancerous cells. When cancerous cells grow, there are also compounds that inhibit the growth of our healthy normal cells, certain feature of kale’s nutritional makeup seems to have the effect of inhibiting the growth of the cells that interrupt with normal cell metabolism, thus helping the body produce more healthy cells to fight the cancerous cells.
Kale works great in salads or green juices; you can buy it at supermarkets or through local growers which you can find online.
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