I think kale gets a bad rep. Oftentimes it gets associated with eccentric vegans, impossible weight loss plans and boring green slop on the side of your plate when in truth it’s just a very misunderstood vegetable. In this article I’m going to try and disperse the dark cloud of mystery and misinformation surrounding kale and hopefully by the end, make you realize that kale is that friend you never knew you needed.
Everyone readily sings the praises of Kale’s cousins such as broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens and watercress: their benefits and advantages, the numerous studies that have been done to prove these benefits and the many testimonies of those who have tried them. Unfortunately, this unfair publicity has led to this culture in which we look down upon kale as the black sheep of the family. The reality however couldn’t be further from the truth, kale is actually a nutritional giant among the leafy greens, some of whose benefits eclipse those of it’s close relatives. Also known as leaf cabbage, kale plants are known to have both green and purple leaves sometimes, it’s central leaves do not however form a head like most cabbages. It comes in three main varieties: red kale, which has red or purple stems and curly leaves. Black kale, a variety with flat, long, crinkly leaves of a blue-green colour. The third kind is curly kale, it has very curly, bright green leaves and a fibrous stem. It is the most popular of the tree varieties.
Like most other cruciferous vegetables, kale is rich in vitamins such as vitamins A, K, C and B6. it has a much higher vitamin C content than most other vegetables, more than four times as much as spinach! Vitamin C is a very important antioxidant, which is important for the development and repair of body tissues. It plays a vital role in maintaining immune system function. Kale is an excellent source of this most vital vitamin, having more vitamin C in a single cup of kale than in an entire orange. It is one of the best sources of vitamin K in the world. In the whole world! It contains way more than five times the recommended daily amount of vitamin K in a single cup of uncooked kale. Vitamin K in case you didn’t know, plays an absolutely critical role in blood clotting. I don’t think you need to have been in a life-threatening situation where you almost bled out to understand how vital it is for blood to clot normally. A vitamin K deficiency is not good for anyone, but luckily for them, adding a bit of kale to your diet will keep you well within the recommended dosage. It’s really that simple. Kale contains a variety of vitamin K known as vitamin K1, which has been shown to help prevent osteoporosis and heart disease.
Antioxidants, we all know we need them, and kale’s got them. These are the substances that prevent or slow down cell damage that is caused by oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is caused by an accumulation of free radicals and other unstable molecules produced by body. Well the body does produce some of its own antioxidants, they’re not always enough to combat defects of oxidative stress hence it’s necessary to absorb antioxidants from external sources like from our food. Luckily for us kale is loaded, it contains high levels of antioxidants like other leafy green vegetables. Compounds such as kaempferol and quercetin I present in large quantities in kale, and studies have shown them to have anti-inflammatory, antiviral effects, lowering blood pressure and sometimes even preventing against certain cancers. On the same topic of cancer, kale contains other compounds that are linked by research to the protection against certain cancers. While kale desk contains some vitamin A, it contains even more so an antioxidant called beta-carotene that the body can actually convert on its own into vitamin A. It’s actually a very good source of beta-carotene.
A lot of people don’t get enough minerals and they don’t even know it. Minerals are elements on earth and that are found in food that our body needs to help maintain normal function. some minerals play more important roles than others but in general they are plenty of minerals that your body needs in sufficient amounts to help it to function optimally. The ever important calcium, that is necessary to maintain bone health and various cellular functions can be obtained in really good amounts from kale. You can obtain potassium, which is linked to lowering the risk of heart disease as well as magnesium which research has shown also prevents against heart disease while also lowering the risk of diabetes. Kale is an excellent source of many other minerals that most people lack in their diets nowadays. It also contains a host of other nutrients and compounds that serve many beneficial functions in the body. Nutrients such as lutein are links to promotion of good eye health, lowering the risk of cataracts and macular deterioration as we age. Kale contains compounds that are known to lower cholesterol levels. Who knew kale chips were going to help save you from a heart attack?
By virtue of it being a vegetable, kale is an excellent source of these nutrients and minerals and compounds without having to resort to the use of animal products. This allows the possibility for people who cannot consume animal products to get vital nutrition and the accompanying health benefits while still maintaining their diets. Speaking of diets, there’s a truth to this association between kale and dieting. A cup of kale contains only about 34 calories, about 6 grams of carbohydrates, and 3 grams of protein. This makes it one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. It’s packed with nutrients while having virtually no calories. it’s an absolute staple for people trying to lose or maintain weight, as you can eat as much of it as you want and it won’t tip your scale. In this day and age, adding kale to your diet has never been easier, and we can thank those eccentric vegans for this one. In every corner of the world wide web you can find a recipe for a kale snack or how to incorporate it into a main meal, integrating kale into your everyday eating habits is as easy as clicking on the internet.
Kale doesn’t get nearly as much publicity as it deserves and it’s quite the shame too, because people have so much more to gain from this humble powerhouse vegetable then they realize. I hope we can all leave this article ready to embark on a new found friendship with this leafy green.