Kale 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Kale is the perfect super food for those of us who are keen on maintaining good health. Not only is it green and leafy, but it is also very easy to prepare. In just under 5 minutes, you could be eating one of the most nutritious and delicious vegetables known to man. From the cabbage family, Kale can be found in almost every farmer’s market and grocery store. It is very easy to tell which ones are best because fresh Kale has thick, juicy leaves that have a healthy green or purple color depending on the type.

Chances are that you have eaten Kale before, either as part of your diet or as part of a side-serving at your favorite restaurant. You may have even bought a bunch of Kale leaves and cooked them a few times. But do you know just how healthy they are? Do you know the kind of nutrients these luscious green leaves carry and just how far they go to ensure that you are having a healthy meal?

Here are 25 science-backed health benefits of Kale

1. Kale has a low-calorie count and is good for your weight watching efforts
This has to be the first thing every health conscious person look at when it comes to what they eat, just how many calories they are going to gain. With obesity being one of the leading killers in today’s world, it is absolutely imperative to eat foods that have a high nutritious value yet low-calorie count. At 33 calories for every serving (1 cup of Kale), Kale has one of the lowest calorie counts for a super food. The fact that it is nutrient dense and has a low-calorie count makes Kale one of the most advisable healthy foods on the market.

2. Kale is loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids which help with depression, high blood pressure and other conditions
If you are going to eat any kind of fat, you want it to be omega-3 fats. These fats have a wide range of health benefits that go a long way in mitigating some of life’s most treacherous conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, bipolar disorder, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and osteoporosis among many others.

3. Kale has lots of proteins which is a good source of energy and helps the body to heal
Proteins are wonderful nutrients that make up the fundamental building blocks on which our bodies depend. Most of us get a lot of our proteins from animal meat such as beef and mutton. Red meat may not be the healthiest source of proteins. By supplementing our protein source with Kale, other plant proteins such as beans and white meat, we are making the wiser choice.

4. Kale provides us with a lot of minerals that most of us do not get enough of otherwise
Have you ever asked yourself how much magnesium and calcium you need in your body? Better yet, have you ever asked yourself where you get your calcium and magnesium? The truth is, there are many different minerals that we need in our body that we almost never get enough of in the course of our diets. Kale is a good source of magnesium and calcium. Calcium is excellent for bone development and strength. Magnesium, on the other hand, can protect us against heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

5. Kale is low in oxalate, which makes it nutrients easier to absorb
In many cases, we do not get the nutrients we need from our food either because we do not prepare them in the right way or because they are full of oxalates, which make it difficult for our bodies to absorb those nutrients. Kale, unlike its cousin the spinach, has very low oxalate levels. This makes it much easier for our bodies to absorb all the wonderful nutrients found in Kale.

6. Kale contains numerous cancer-fighting substances that help with the fight against several cancers
Kale contains a high amount of organosulfur compounds (1) which help us fight cancer. From prostate cancer to breast cancer, colon cancer and even bladder cancer, eating Kale on a regular basis puts you in a great position to fight these deadly types of cancer.

7. Kale helps to protect your eyesight as you age
As we grow older, our eyesight begins to fail. Kale has a high concentration of nutrients called lutein and zeaxanthin, all wonderful carotenoid antioxidants that greatly lower your chances of getting cataracts and macular degeneration as you get older.

8. Kale is important for your child’s growth and immune system
Kale is high in beta-carotene which is an antioxidant that can be turned into the all-important Vitamin A in our bodies. Taking Kale is a great way to increase the levels of Vitamin A in our bodies. Vitamin A is a nutrient that is extremely important for human growth and the maintenance of our immune system.

9. Kale can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s
bunch-of-kale-in-boxOne of the main nutrients found in Kale is Vitamin B3. This is a type of Vitamin that shows great promise when it comes to reducing the risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s, osteoarthritis, cataracts and even diabetes. Vitamin B3 lowers LDL (bad cholesterol) and raises (HDL) good cholesterol levels in the body.

10. Kale is a great anti-inflammatory agent
Most animal protein sources cause inflammations that can lead to several autoimmune diseases and even heart disease. Kale has a lot of anti-inflammatory compounds in it that can actually help to counter and even reverse those effects.

11. Kale is great for your body’s cell health
Kale has a lot of Vitamin B12 or Folic Acid which is essential for cell health and a host of other health benefits in our bodies. Folic Acid or Vitamin B12 is wonderful for fetal development, the development of red blood cells and mitigating against conditions such as depression.

12. Kale helps your blood clot
Your blood’s ability to clot is absolutely vital if you are to keep from bleeding out every time you get a minor or major cut. Kale has a high concentration of a nutrient called Vitamin K which is essential for blood clotting to take place. Vitamin K1, abundantly found in Kale, acts by activating different proteins and thus giving them the critical ability to bind calcium which then aids in blood clotting.

13. Kale can help you fight anaemia
Kale has a high concentration of iron. This nutrient is integral in the fight against anaemia and also the formation of haemoglobin that carries oxygen throughout our bodies. This plays an important role in brain function and muscle function by delivering much-needed oxygen to and for these various functions. Kale just so happens to have more iron per calorie than beef.

14. Kale is wonderful for your skin
Most of us are concerned about how healthy our skin looks. That is why we go to great lengths to buy expensive creams and skin products just to keep our skin moist and well taken care of as we go about our day to day lives. What we do not know is that Vitamin E, a nutrient that most of us rarely get enough of, is essential for cell repair and skin health. Kale has a great concentration of Vitamin E and goes a long way in helping us keep our skins healthy and moist.

15. Kale aids in migraine prevention
Kale has a high concentration of a nutrient called Vitamin B2. This nutrient is essential in the processing of carbohydrates and can be used to regulate your thyroid. More importantly, it can aid in the prevention of migraines, the treatment of anaemia, tissue repair and it can even help make your skin clearer.

16. Kale has a lot of fibre which can help you prevent IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and strokes
We all know how important it is to have a good supply of fibre in our diet. Not only does taking enough fibre daily help to reduce the risk of developing kidney stones, but it also helps to prevent haemorrhoids, control blood sugar levels, keep our hearts in good shape as well as promote our weight loss efforts. Getting enough fibre, which can be found in Kale, is a great way to prevent IBS and keep strokes at bay.

17. Kale can help with your allergies
Kale has a high concentration of Vitamin B6, a nutrient that is well known for its ability to help our bodies maintain good overall health. More specifically, Vitamin B6 is useful when it comes to treating allergies, migraines, asthma, high cholesterol and a wide range of other everyday illnesses that we contract due to the kind of lifestyles that we lead and the environments in which we live.

18. Kale helps you maintain a healthy blood volume
There is one nutrient that we do not hear that much about, copper. Most of us do not even know where we get our daily dose of copper from, and quite frankly, many do not care. Copper is one of those nutrients that do not get talked about much but are absolutely integral to our survival and health. Copper helps to fill our cells with energy and maintain the appropriate volume of blood within our bodies. Kale has a healthy amount of copper within it, thus making it important for blood volume maintenance.

19. Kale is a nutritious health food for pregnant women
Thanks to the fact that Kale is a wonderful supply of Vitamin A, C, K and calcium, it has all the nutrients that a pregnant mother would need if they are to carry a healthy baby to term. It provides them with the right amount of bone-building material, and supply’s them with all the necessary antioxidants as well as cell regeneration nutrients necessary for healing and staying healthy. (2)

20. Kale is a good source of manganese
Yet another important nutrient that most of us do not pay that much attention to in our diets. Manganese is an essential bone-building nutrient that benefits our skin and protects us from the damage that would be caused by the sun’s UV rays. Being part of an enzyme called manganese superoxide dismutase, manganese is absolutely vital when it comes to keeping your skin safe from the sun.

21. Kale can help regulate your PMS
happy-womanKale contains a good amount of magnesium, which is yet another nutrient that most of us do not get enough of in our daily diets. Magnesium is essential for the formation of bones and teeth, helps in blood sugar regulation, goes a long way in the treatment of diabetes and helps regulate the adverse effects of PMS.

22. Kale has Vitamin B1, which is essential for muscle and nerve communication
Vitamin B1 or also known as Thiamine is an essential nutrient that helps to convert the sugar in our bodies into energy. It also helps to produce acetylcholine which is essential in the delivery of messages to our muscles and nerves. This is one way that Kale helps your heart beat regularly and in a healthy manner.

23. Kale helps to lower your cholesterol
Thanks to all these wonderful nutrients found in Kale, including Omega-3 fatty acids and the low-calorie count, Kale is one of the best health foods that can help you lower your cholesterol levels. Eating a healthy helping of Kale every day is a good way to ensure that your health is in better shape.

24. Kale is sustainable and great for the environment
Kale takes about 60 days to grow to maturity organically. You do not need to use any harmful chemicals and it can grow on almost every patch of soil. By default, anything that is good for the environment is in some ways, good for you. Growing your own Kale is both green and cheaper than depending on beef for your protein and source of food. That and it comes with a host of nutrients that are all wonderful for your health.

25. Kale prevents DNA damage
Because Kale contains a good amount of Vitamin C, this ascorbic acid can prevent IMA-induced cause of DNA damage. This, however, is hypothetical and studies still need to be carried out to demonstrate this extraordinary ability of Kale.

To sum it all up, this simple, delicious, yet nutrient dense vegetable contains the following:

  • Vitamin A: 206% of the RDA (from beta-carotene). This Vitamin is wonderful when it comes to keeping your liver healthy.
  • Vitamin B6: 9% of the RDA. Vitamin B6 is important when it comes to healthy brain development and production of hormones in our bodies such as norepinephrine, serotonin, and melatonin which help to maintain our body’s natural clock.
  • Vitamin K: 684% of the RDA. Vitamin K is important for proper bone development and strength, plus it also helps to prevent heart disease.
  • Manganese: 26% of the RDA. This helps to regulate sex hormones and prevents blood clots.
  • Calcium: 9% of the RDA. Calcium keeps our bones and teeth strong as well as helps our blood to clot when need be.
  • Copper: 10% of the RDA. This helps your body to generate more blood cells and boosts your immune system.
  • Potassium: 9% of the RDA. Potassium is an electrolyte that helps regulate body fluids.
  • Magnesium: 6% of the RDA. Magnesium is essential to thousands of biochemical reactions in the body and it stimulates 300 enzyme reactions all of which are important for the creation of energy, muscle contraction and nutrient metabolism.

All this is packed in one healthy and delicious vegetable that is not only very affordable but also very easy to prepare. The next time you walk down to your local farmer’s market, make sure to pick yourself up some Kale. You and your family will be healthier for it.

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