Kale (Brassica oleracea), also known as borecole, is a leafy green vegetable from the Brassica family. They are part of cruciferous vegetables that include cabbage, collards, and Brussels sprouts.
Types of Kale:
- Curly kale has ruffled leaves and a fibrous stalk and is usually deep green in color. It has a lively pungent flavor with delicious bitter peppery qualities.
- Ornamental kale also referred to as salad savoy, have green, white, or purple leaves and its stalks form a loosely knit head. Ornamental kale has a more mellow flavor and tender texture.
- Dinosaur kale (Lacinato or Tuscan kale) has dark blue-green leaves that have an embossed texture and slightly sweeter tasting than curly kale.
Kale, a descendant of the wild cabbage, was brought to Europe around 600 B.C. by Celtic wanderers. Curly kale was an integral part of the European diet during ancient Roman times and a popular vegetable eaten by peasants in the Middle Ages. English settlers brought kale to the United States in the 17th century. Dinosaur kale was discovered in Italy in the late 19th century. Ornamental kale, originally a decorative garden plant, was first cultivated commercially in California around the 1980s.
Kale is Choc-A-Block with Nutrients:
One cup of chopped kale contains 33 calories and 9% of the daily value of calcium, 206% of vitamin A, 134% of vitamin C, and a whopping 684% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals- copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus. Kale’s health benefits are primarily linked to the high concentration and excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K — and sulphur-containing phytonutrients.
Here are 16 Healthy Reasons to include Kale into your healthy diet plan:
- Aids Weight Loss: Kale is a good source of dietary fiber which improves the digestive action, bowel movements, and quick disposal of toxins and waste products. Along with its low calorie count and zero fat, it is a must-have on any weight loss diet. Vitamin C it contains hydrates your body and increases your metabolism, leading to weight loss and healthy blood sugar levels.
- High Iron Content: Iron is essential for formation of hemoglobin and enzymes, transporting oxygen to various parts of the body, cell growth, proper liver function, and more.High chlorophyll content in kale helps elevate hemoglobin levels, boosting overall body health.
- Bone Strength: Kale is an incredible source of well-absorbed calcium, helps prevent bone loss, stalls the onset of osteoporosis, and maintains healthy metabolism. Vitamin C is also helpful to maintain cartilage and joint flexibility.
- Anti-Inflammatory: The anti inflammatory properties of omega-3 fatty acids help fight and alleviate arthritis, autoimmune disorders and asthma. Phytonutrients, such as quercetin, help combat inflammation and prevent arterial plaque formation. Kale, which is basically alkaline in content, along with vitamin K, helps improve blood circulation reducing chronic inflammation.
- Anti Cancer: Carotenoids and flavonoids, along with the phytonutrient, sulforaphane, are active cancer-fighting compounds. Kale also contains organosulfur compounds, broken by the body into isothiocyanates, inducing cancer-destroying enzymes that inhibit colon, prostate and ovarian cancer cell growth. The indole-3-carbinol boosts DNA health and inhibits cancer cell growth.
- Detoxifier: Kale’s great detoxifiers, fiber and sulfur, lower cholesterol, and keep your liver healthy. Isothiocyanates, found in Kale, when broken down to glucosinolates, help to regulate detoxification activities at the core genetic level, the body cells.
- Immune Booster: Kale’s impressive concentration of nutrients strengthens the immune system and fights viruses and bacteria. Iron boosts oxygen supply to your blood warding off anemia, phytonutrient sulforaphane nourishes the immune system, and Vitamin C hydrates and provides antioxidants, aiding metabolism promoting processes.
- For Skin: Vitamin A prevents dry and flaky skin, repairs underlying skin tissues, and prevents damage caused by free radicals. Contains phytonutrients, lutein, and beta-carotene, that improve skin’s elasticity, firmness and keep it supple. Vitamin C and K, help prevent premature aging of the skin, and fight dark circles and wrinkled skin.
- For Hair: Kale is packed with Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, that increase blood circulation to the scalp, strengthen hair follicles, prevent hair breakage, and improve elasticity of hair.
- For Vision: Kale contains a high concentration of beta-carotene and carotenoids (zeaxathin and lutein), that act as sunglass filters, protecting eyes against UV rays, built up of cataracts and protect the retina against free radicals.
- Lowers LDL cholesterol: Kale juice favorably influences serum lipid profiles and antioxidant systems, and reduces the risks of coronary artery disease, among hypercholesterolemic patients. The bile acid isolators, cholestyramine and colestipol, are excellent agents for lowering circulating low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels.
- Protein source: Kale is one of the best bio-available protein sources, for growth, repair and nourishment of muscle tissues. Kale provides larger amounts of protein than meat, establishing it as a viable protein source for vegetarians.
- Rich in Antioxidants: Antioxidants, such as carotenoids and flavonoids help protect against various cancers. The best antioxidant source of beta-carotene, Kale helps fights cancer, heart disease, and certain age-related chronic diseases. Manganese in kale helps your body’s own antioxidant defense system, superoxide dismutase, protecting you from damaging free radicals. Its folate and B6 team up to keep homocysteine levels down, preventing heart disease, dementia, and osteoporosis bone fractures.
- ALA source: Kale is actually a great source of alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), which is a type of omega-3 fatty acid that’s essential for brain health, reduces Type 2 diabetes risk, and boots heart health as well.
- Vitamin K source: Vitamin K is also found in Kale which strengthens the body’s bone health, forestalling the effects of osteoporosis, prevents clotting of blood, is anti-inflammatory and also helps in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
- For Brain Health: Omega 3 in kale helps delay the damage to brain cells due to high blood sugar in people who are diabetic or obese.
Oxalates: Kale contains measurable amounts of oxalates that interfere with absorption of calcium from the body, so individuals with already existing and untreated kidney or gallbladder problems may want to avoid eating kale.
Pesticide Residues: Commercially grown kale are contaminated with concentrations of organophosphate insecticides, which are considered to be highly toxic to the nervous system but still are not part of the traditional “Dirty Dozen” Foods with pesticide residues.
Can cause Goiter: Like other cruciferous foods Kale is also called a “goitrogenic food”. It doesn’t harm the thyroid functions and cause Goiter but has shown to exhibit varied reactions due to mismatched nature of certain substances within the food and unique health circumstances of the individual.