In the times when the masses are being conscious about their health and nutrition, the concepts of ‘eating healthy’ and ‘Superfoods’ are gaining popularity. Kale is one such superfood – a popular vegetable and a member of the cabbage family. The most common type of kale is called curly kale or Scots kale, which has green and curly leaves and a hard, fibrous stem. Let us take a look at the health benefits of including Kale in your diet.
1. Kale Is one of the Most Nutrient-Dense Foods on Earth
Kale has been ranked in the top 10 foods with the highest nutrition density per 100 calories of serving – based on a study published in the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) journal & Preventing Chronic Disease & Kale has very low-fat content, but a large portion of the fats comprises omega-3 fatty acids. Given its incredibly low-calorie content, kale is among the most nutrient-dense foods in existence.
2. Kale is rich in antioxidants
Kale, like other leafy greens, is highly rich in antioxidants. These include beta-carotene and vitamin C, as well as various flavonoids and polyphenols. Antioxidants offer protective activity against oxidative damage by free radicals in the body. Oxidative damage is one of the factors contributing to the physiology of aging and many diseases, including cancer. Because of the high content of antioxidants, Kale is one of the plants with a high ORAC value (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, which measures foods&39; ability to scavenge free radicals)
Kale is also a rich source of the flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol. Laboratory studies have shown them to possess heart-protective, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer effects. Kale also is an excellent source of Vit. C – Ascorbic Acid, which drives the synthesis of collagen. Collagen aids in providing elasticity to the skin and contributes to smooth, wrinkle-free skin. Kale is much higher in vitamin C than most other vegetables, containing about 4.5 times much as spinach. Furthermore, a cup of raw kale contains even more vitamin C than a whole orange.
3. Kale helps in cholesterol sequestration
Kale contains bile acid sequestrants, compounds that bind bile acids in the digestive system and prevent their reabsorption. This ultimately reduces the total amount of cholesterol in the body. This might lead to a reduced risk of heart disease over time. One study found that drinking kale juice every day 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 43% as potent as cholestyramine, a cholesterol-lowering drug that functions similarly. Moreover, Kale is rich in dietary fiber.
4. Kale is an excellent source of Vitamin K
Vitamin K is a very crucial player in the blood-clotting pathway. Vitamin K activates certain proteins in the blood-clotting pathway and gives them the ability to bind calcium.
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.
5. Kale contains several compounds with potential anti-cancer activity.
Kale offers a bounty of compounds that are believed to have protective effects against cancer. One such compound is sulforaphane. Kale also contains indole-3-carbinol, another substance that is believed to help prevent cancer. Laboratory studies have shown that cruciferous vegetables (including kale) may significantly lower the risk of several cancers, although the evidence in humans is mixed.
6. Kale is loaded with minerals
Kale is a good plant-based source of calcium, a nutrient that is very important for bone health and plays a role in all sorts of cellular functions. Kale also contains quite a bit of potassium, a mineral that helps maintain electrical gradients in the body’s cells. Adequate potassium intake has been linked to reduced blood pressure and a lower risk of heart disease. One advantage that kale has over leafy greens like spinach is that it is low in oxalate, a substance found in some plants that can prevent minerals from being absorbed.
7. Kale contains a high amount of Lutein and Zeaxanthin
The weakening of eyesight is a common symptom accompanied by aging. Including proper nutrition in your diet can help mitigate this effect of aging. Lutein and zeaxanthin, are the carotenoid antioxidants that are found in large amounts in kale. Studies have shown that dietary inclusion of these antioxidants lowers the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts, two very common eye disorders associated with aging.
The Bottom Line!
Despite being a superfood for decades and having numerous health benefits, the use of Kale is close to invisible in the diet of Indians. We believe it is about time to understand the importance of including this superfood in our diets to fulfill the daily adult requirement of nutrients. Fortunately, the hydroponics cultivation technique has made it possible to bring pesticide-free and chemical-free Kale into your plate!
Adding kale to your diet is relatively simple. A popular snack – kale chips, where you drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on your kale, season it with salt and spices and then bake in it an oven until dry. You can pair kale with your dry fruit nuts or add in your soups. A lot of people also add kale to their smoothies to boost their nutritional value. If you want to dramatically boost the number of nutrients you take in, consider loading up on kale.