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Why No One Should Overlook Kale

Why No One Should Overlook Kale

Kale might seem like the ugly step-sister of the crucifers — especially with superstars like broccoli and cauliflower in the family!  But this leafy green is a veritable powerhouse of nutrients and health benefits that make it a true superfood.

For sure, you should make sure you’re not overlooking this great vegetable. Whenever you eat kale…

You are Getting an Incredible Variety of Vitamins and Minerals

Kale, according to the USDA, is incredibly nutrient-dense. Just one cup of this amazing leafy green, and you will be getting 24 calories, 1 gram of protein, 1 gram of carbohydrates and a half-gram of fiber. But now check out what you’ll be packing away in regards to vitamins and minerals:

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  • Calcium, 24 mg
  • Potassium, 79 mg
  • Phosphorous, 15 mg
  • Vitamin C, 19 mg
  • Folate, 23 mg
  • Vitamin K, 1598 IU

In short, high-quality foods like kale are a great way to fill some of the “nutrient gaps” that are especially common in the American diet — which relies so much on prepackaged foods.

You are also Getting a Boatload of Antioxidants

It’s not just a ton of vitamins and minerals you’re getting. Kale also provides powerful antioxidants that work in many ways to improve your general health. Kale is rich in beta-carotene and Vitamin C (which also helps build collagen for healthy joints and beautiful, young-looking skin) as well as flavonoids like quercetin, which have been shown to decrease blood pressure, fight off viral infections and even help with depression.

Another important antioxidant to note is lutein, which can improve the health of your eyes and help reduce the risk of serious eye diseases like macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness.

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In short, eating kale on a regular basis is a great way to load up on disease-fighting antioxidants.

You Are Improving Your Cholesterol Levels

High cholesterol is a real problem in America and is a major risk factor for both heart and attacks and strokes. But fortunately, apart from medication, there are natural ways to get cholesterol down to a healthy level. One of those ways is a diet rich in fruits and veggies, especially veggies like kale. Kale contains compounds that actually prevent cholesterol from being absorbed into the body — and this can help prevent it from building up in arteries and causing problems later on.

One study found that men with high cholesterol levels who consumed kale juice daily for 12 weeks were able to raise their good cholesterol up by 27% while at the same time lowering bad cholesterol by 11%, which meant a significant improvement in heart health!

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You are Reducing Cancer Risk, Too

Most people worry about cancer — and with good reason, as it remains the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. That’s the bad news.

The good news? It is possible to reduce the risk of many forms of cancer through lifestyle changes — including the diet. Kale, like cabbage and broccoli, is particularly good at this. For one thing, it contains sulforophane, which has been shown to fight against the formation of cancer cells.  It also contains indole-3-carbinol, better known as 1-3-C, which has gotten a lot of attention lately because of its ability to help treat breast cancer.

So for one little cup of kale, you are getting a whole wealth of health benefits. If you eat it regularly, you can improve your heart health, reduce cancer risk and load up on the vitamins and minerals your body needs for general health. It is also incredibly easy to add to your diet; kale goes well in smoothies (seriously), in salads, and even in casseroles and pasta or rice dishes.

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So, try some awesome kale recipes today and start giving your body some serious TLC!

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Brian Wu

Health Writer, Author

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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