Kale is a very interesting leafy green vegetable. It is quite versatile and seems to be gaining popularity in recipes these days. There are many varieties and colors of kale, and they are all incredibly healthy.
Kale is a member of the Brassicaceae (cabbage) family of vegetables, along with broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and bok choy. The nutritional profile of kale is amazing! It is packed with many phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals, making it one of the healthiest leafy green vegetables.
Here are eight reasons why kale is one of the most nutrient dense vegetables, and some of the health benefits:
- Beta-carotene: helps to protect eye tissue & helps with night vision; enhances immune response; protects against cancer; is a scavenger of free radicals
- Vitamin C: helps with growth & tissue repair; helps with the production of collagen; heals wounds; helps to maintain bones & teeth; is an antioxidant
- A rich source of Vitamin K: promotes bone health; is used to treat dementia because it limits neuron damage in the brain.
- Lutein and Zeaxanthin: specifically help the retinal tissue of the eyes & protect the eyes from the damage of UV light – helping to protect against macular degenerative disease and cataracts.
- Quercetin: acts as an anti-inflammatory; has anti-viral properties; inhibits LDL (bad) cholesterol which promotes heart health; has been shown to be effective at reducing growth of some types of cancers;
- Sulforaphane and Indole-3-Carbinol: found exclusively in vegetables of the Brassicaceae family; helps our cells repair DNA; has both anti-bacterial and anti-viral qualities; has been known to block growth of cancer cells.
- Contains the minerals manganese, iron, copper, potassium and phosphorous
- It is low in oxalic acid (unlike spinach), which can interfere with assimilation of calcium and magnesium.
Kale can be eaten raw or it can be lightly steamed. When kale is steamed – it helps to release the phyto-nutrients and it makes it easier for us to absorb them. Steamed kale can also help to lower cholesterol because it binds to bile acids in the digestive tract and then is eliminated from the body. The liver then has to produce more bile acids by drawing on the body’s cholesterol stores.
Even though kale is very healthy – there are 2 CAUTIONS to be aware of:
- High Vitamin K content: anyone who is taking blood thinning medication needs to consult their Doctor before eating kale, because vitamin K plays a key role in blood clotting.
- Raw kale contains goitrogens, which can inhibit the absorption of iodine. This would have a negative effect on people with thyroid issues – so they would need to check with their Doctor before consuming raw kale. Steamed kale would likely be a better choice in this case.
Are you interested in learning more about which super healthy vegetables and fruits to add to your healthy lifestyle? Let’s talk… contact me!
The Book of Kale by Sharon Hanna
Copyright © 2013 Cathy Ormon – All Rights Reserved