It is definitely one of the healthiest and most nutritious plant foods in existence.
Kale is loaded with all sorts of beneficial compounds… some of which have powerful medicinal properties.
Here are 5 health benefits of kale, that are supported by science.
1. Kale is Among The Most Nutrient Dense Foods on The Planet
Before we get to all the benefits, let me briefly explain what kale is…
Kale is a popular vegetable, a member of the cabbage family.
It is related to cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens and brussels sprouts.
There are many different types of kale. The leaves can be green or purple in color, and have either a smooth or curly shape.
The most common type of kale is called curly kale or Scots kale, which has green and curly leaves and a hard, fibrous stem.
A single cup of raw kale (about 67 grams or 2.4 ounces) contains (1):
- Vitamin A: 206% of the RDA (from beta-carotene).
- Vitamin K: 684% of the RDA.
- Vitamin C: 134% of the RDA.
- Vitamin B6: 9% of the RDA.
- Manganese: 26% of the RDA.
- Calcium: 9% of the RDA.
- Copper: 10% of the RDA.
- Potassium: 9% of the RDA.
- Magnesium: 6% of the RDA.
- Then it contains 3% or more of the RDA for Vitamin B1 (Thiamin), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Iron and Phosphorus.
This is coming with a total of 33 calories, 6 grams of carbs (2 of which are fiber) and 3 grams of protein.
Kale contains very little fat, but a large portion of the fat in it is the omega-3 fatty acid called alpha linolenic acid.
Given the incredibly low calorie content, kale is among the most nutrient dense foods in existence. Eating more kale is a great way to dramatically increase the total nutrient content of your diet.
2. Kale is Loaded With Powerful Antioxidants Like Quercetin and Kaempferol
Kale, like other leafy greens, is very high in antioxidants.
This includes beta-carotene, vitamin C, as well as various flavonoids and polyphenols.
Antioxidants are substances that help counteract oxidative damage by free radicals in the body..
Oxidative damage is believed to be among the leading drivers of aging and many diseases, including cancer.
But many substances that happen to be antioxidants also have other important functions.
These substances have been studied intensely in test tubes and animal studies. They have powerful cardioprotective, blood pressure lowering, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-depressant and anti-cancer effects… to name a few.
3. It is an Excellent Source of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an important nutrient.
It is a water-soluble antioxidant that serves many vital functions in the body’s cells.
For example, it is necessary to synthesize collagen, the most abundant structural protein in the body.
Kale is much higher in vitamin C than most other vegetables, containing about 4.5 times much as spinach.
The truth is… kale is actually among the world’s best sources of Vitamin C. A cup of raw kale even contains more vitamin C than a whole orange.
4. Kale Can Help Lower Cholesterol, Which May Reduce The Risk of Heart Disease
Cholesterol has many important functions in the body.
One of them, is being used to make bile acids, which are substances that help us digest fats.
The liver turns cholesterol into bile acids, which are then released into the digestive system whenever we eat a fatty meal.
When all the fat has been absorbed and the bile acids have served their purpose, they are reabsorbed into the bloodstream and used again.
Substances called bile acid sequestrants can bind bile acids in the digestive system and prevent them from being reabsorbed. This reduces the total amount of cholesterol in the body.
Guess what… kale actually contains bile acid sequestrants, which can lower cholesterol levels (11). This should lead to a reduced risk of heart disease over time.
One study found that daily consumption of kale juice for 12 weeks increased HDL (the “good”) cholesterol by 27% and lowered LDL levels by 10%, while also improving antioxidant status.
According to one study, steaming kale dramatically increases the bile acid binding effect. Steamed kale is actually 43% as potent as cholestyramine, a cholesterol lowering drug that functions in this way .
5. Kale is One of The World’s Best Sources of Vitamin K
Vitamin K is an important nutrient.
It is absolutely critical for blood clotting, and does this by “activating” certain proteins and giving them the ability to bind calcium.
The well known anticoagulant drug Warfarin actually works by blocking the function of this vitamin.
Kale is one of the world’s best sources of vitamin K, with a single raw cup containing almost 7 times the recommended daily amount.
The form of vitamin K in kale is K1, which is different than vitamin K2. K2 is found in fermented soy foods and certain animal products. It helps prevent heart disease and osteoporosis.