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Kale Health Benefits, Nutritional Value and Uses

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What is Kale?

Kale is a popular vegetable, a member of the cabbage family (Brassica oleracea). It is related to cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens and brussels sprouts.

There are many different types of kale.  kale comes in two forms: kale, which has smooth leaves, and curly kale, which has crinkly leaves. Curly kale or Scots kale is the most common of the two which has green and curly leaves and a hard, fibrous stem.

Health Benefits of Kale

Kale’s risk-lowering benefits for cancer have recently been extended to at least five different types of cancer. These types include cancer of the bladder, breast, colon, ovary, and prostate. Isothiocyanates (ITCs) made from glucosinolates in kale play a primary role in achieving these risk-lowering benefits.

Kale is now recognized as providing comprehensive support for the body’s detoxification system. New research has shown that the ITCs made from kale’s glucosinolates can help regulate detox at a genetic level.

Kale can provide you with some special cholesterol-lowering benefits if you will cook it by steaming. The fiber-related components in kale do a better job of binding together with bile acids in your digestive tract when they’ve been steamed. When this binding process takes place, it’s easier for bile acids to be excreted, and the result is a lowering of your cholesterol levels. Raw kale still has cholesterol-lowering ability—just not as much.

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Researchers can now identify over 45 different flavonoids in kale. With kaempferol and quercetin heading the list, kale’s flavonoids combine both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits in way that gives kale a leading dietary role with respect to avoidance of chronic inflammation and oxidative stress.

Kale is a Good Source of Minerals That Most People Don’t Get Enough of
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 

It 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 is Very High in Beta-Carotene

Fresh Kale

Kale is often claimed to be high in vitamin A, but this is false.

It is actually high in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that the body can turn into vitamin A.

For this reason, kale can be an effective way to increase your body’s levels of this very important vitamin.

Kale is actually loaded with compounds that are believed to have protective effects against cancer.

There Are Numerous Cancer-Fighting Substances in Kale. Studies have shown that cruciferous vegetables (including kale) may significantly lower the risk of several cancers, although the evidence in humans is mixed

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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.

Kale Should be Able to Help You Lose Weight

Kale has several properties that should make it a weight loss friendly food.

It is very low in calories… but still provides significant bulk that should help you feel full.

Because of the low calorie and high water content, kale has a low energy density.

Eating plenty of foods with a low energy density has been shown to aid weight loss in numerous studies.

Despite the low amount of calories, it does contain small amounts of protein and fiber. These are two of the most important nutrients when it comes to losing weight.

Although there is no study directly testing the effects of kale on weight loss, it makes sense that it could be a useful addition to a weight loss diet.

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Kale is High in Lutein and Zeaxanthin, Powerful Nutrients That Protect the Eyes

One of the most common consequences of ageing is that eyesight gets worse.

Fortunately, there are several nutrients in the diet that can help prevent this from happening.

Kale is high in lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients that have been linked to a drastically reduced risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.

Many studies have shown that people who eat enough lutein and zeaxanthin have a much lower risk of macular degeneration and cataracts, two very common eye disorders

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.

Uses of Kale

Roasted Squash and Kale Salad: Ingredients — Kale, butternut squash, olive oil, brown sugar, red onion, cucumber, low-sodium soy sauce, fresh lime juice, sesame oil, sugar, creamy peanut butter, fresh ginger, salt and pepper

Chicken and White Bean Soup with Greens: Ingredients — Rotisserie chicken, cannellini beans, kale, leeks, baby spinach, carrot, fat-free chicken broth, garlic, olive oil, rosemary, fresh parsley, salt and pepper