How do you like your kale? Green or purple, curly or straight? This dark, leafy vegetable has lots of varieties, so you are spoiled for choice. It is a distinguished member of the Brassica oleracea family and is a close relative of cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. But more important, there many health benefits of kale you probably do not know about. Here are my top ten.
1. It has loads of iron
Topping the list of health benefits of kale is iron. You might be surprised that kale has been called the “new beef”—it’s because kale has more iron than beef. If you do not have enough iron in your diet, you are at risk of suffering from anemia, fatigue and poor mental function in your teenage years. You can get all the iron you need from kale, and never have to worry about eating all that meat.
2. It helps you reduce LDL cholesterol
It is fascinating to read about scientists who are doing research on how kale and other green vegetables can help reduce LDL cholesterol in your system. The bile acids are a key factor because they are kicked into action when you digest kale. When these bile acids are excreted, cholesterol levels are lowered.
3. It gives 10% of your daily omega-3
As we know, omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients. There are two elements in the omega-3 mix: DHA and EPA. They help to prevent heart disease and cancer. The DHA component is vital for preventing depression, dementia, and schizophrenia.
You could eat lots of fish, but that can be toxic if it has been polluted with mercury and PCBs. The best alternative is to stock up on kale. You never have to worry about it being toxic.
4. It may help prevent cataracts
I once visited an ophthalmologist for an eye check-up. She told me that it was disconcerting to note how many more cases of cataracts there are in middle-aged people. She did not know the reason for this.
But a correct diet can help prevent your vision from deteriorating. Did you know that the dark green kale leaves contain both lutein and zeaxanthin? These are important nutrients which may protect you against cataracts and macular degeneration, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
5. It helps you lose weight
The secret to weight loss is to increase your intake of foods which are low in calories and have loads of nutrients.
Kale leads the pack of healthy vegetables because it has only 33 calories in one cup. You also get loads of vitamins, fiber, and vitamin C as a bonus.
6. It contains 45 flavonoids
Flavonoids get a lot of attention these days. The reason is that they have two important functions. They have both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which help prevent most types of cancer. The good news is that kale contains 45 flavonoids.
7. It can help you detox
According to the Linus Pauling Institute, kale contains glucosinolates which are full of sulphur nutrients. These can help the liver function more effectively by activating the detoxification enzymes. These are essential when you need to detox. Kale has 67 of these glucosinolates, just behind Brussels sprouts, which tops the list with 104.
8. Kale recipes are not boring
It was a joy to discover Dr. Drew Ramsey and Jennifer Iserloh’s book Fifty Shades of Kale: 50 Fresh and Satisfying Recipes That Are Bound to Please. You can make kale soup with sausage and white beans, kale smoothies, zucchini and kale bites. If you really want to indulge, you can try the kale and black cherry sorbet!
9. Kale has the calcium you need
Did you know that kale has more calcium than milk? One study showed that kale was better than milk and other vegetables in helping women absorb their daily dose of calcium.
This is a great boon for those who may be lactose intolerant. Getting the right dose of calcium is so important in preventing bone loss, especially as we age.
10. Kale is the number-one veggie
According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington, D.C, kale comes out as the top vegetable from a list of 84! We can see why, as it has so many things going for it. One cup of raw kale has 5 grams of fiber, 0 grams of fat, and 3 grams of protein, as well as being chock-full of minerals and vitamins.
Featured photo credit: Homemade Organic Green Kale Chips with salt and oil via shutterstock.com