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10 Super Health Benefits of Kale You Didn’t Know About

10 Super Health Benefits of Kale You Didn’t Know About

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on May 22, 2019

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

1. Cat Camel Stretch

Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

Here’s a video to guide you through:

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2. Go for a Walk or a Run

This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

3. Jumping Jacks

Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

4. Abductor Side Lifts

Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

5. Balancing Table Pose

This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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    6. Leg Squats

    Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

    Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

    The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

    7. Push Ups

    You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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    An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

    Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

    This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

    8. Bicycle Crunches

    There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

    Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

    9. Lunges

    Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

    Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

    This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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    10. Bicep Curls

    You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

    Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

    Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

    Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

    Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

    These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

    You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

    Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

    More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

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