Kale has earned its name by being rich in nutrients, with hardly any calories and great flavor. Lets get straight to it, 1 cup (67g) of chopped kale contains 33 calories and 9% of the daily value of calcium, has a high concentration antioxidant vitamins, 206% of vitamin A, 134% of vitamin C, and a whopping 684% of vitamin K (recommended amount only around 120 microgramms for men over 19), plus many other goodies. Around 5 grams of fiber and 0 grams of fat. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus. What that means to you:
Kale is great for your Eyes – it is high in lutein and zeaxanthin (22,148 mcg per cup), phytochemicals found in the retina, which could help reduce the risk of macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older people. The American Macular Degeneration Foundation says research has indicated that eating red, orange, yellow and dark green fruits and vegetables, which are high in phytochemicals, seem to have a protective effect against vision loss. Vitamin A is also great for your vision as well as for your skin.
Great for your Heart – Helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. kale’s magnesium and potassium help lower blood pressure, and its high fiber content can help lower cholesterol — all beneficial factors in lowering your risk of cardiovascular illness. Fiber-related nutrients in Kale bind together with some of the bile acids in the intestine so that they pass out of our body, rather than getting absorbed along with the fat they have emulsified. Our liver then needs to replace the lost bile acids by drawing upon our existing supply of cholesterol, thus causing our cholesterol levels to drop. Research has shown that the cholesterol-lowering ability of raw kale improves significantly when it is steamed. Kale also contains Potassium which is an essential nutrient used to maintain fluid and electrolyte balance in the body. A deficiency in potassium causes fatigue, irritability, and hypertension (increased blood pressure). It is a lower potassium vegetable, so can be a good choice for people with chronic kidney disease who are required to follow a low potassium diet. Potassium content ranges from 150 to 210 mg for 1/2 cup raw or boiled. Sticking with a 1/2 cup portion is important if you are on this diet, as a large serving can double or triple the potassium intake.
Anti-Inflammatory – 1 cup of kale is filled with 10% of the RDA of omega-3 fatty acids, which help fight against arthritis, asthma and autoimmune disorders.
Great for your Bones – Kale has a decent amount of calcium which aids in preventing bone loss, preventing osteoporosis and maintaining a healthy metabolism. Vitamin C is also helpful in maintaining cartilage and joint flexibility. It’s especially high in magnesium (1 cup contains 40 % RDA) which working with vitamin D to help your bones absorb calcium. Research has shown that the vitamin K in kale also contributes to bone health by improving bone density.
Anti-Cancer – Carotenoids and flavonoids are the specific types of antioxidants associated with many anti-cancer health benefits. At least 45 different antioxidant flavonoids are provided in measurable amounts by kale. Kale is a top food source for at least four glucosinolates. Once kale is eaten and digested, these glucosinolates are converted by the body into cancer preventive compounds. Eating a diet rich in the powerful antioxidant vitamin K can also reduce the overall risk of developing or dying from cancer, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The vitamin A also helps to prevent lung and oral cavity cancers.
High in Vitamin C – which is very helpful for your immune system, metabolism and hydration.
High in Iron – Kale has been stated to have more iron than beef per calorie, but due to calorie content, a portion of beef does have around the same amount as a portion of kale. Iron is essential for good health, such as the formation of hemoglobin and enzymes, transporting oxygen to various parts of the body, cell growth, proper liver function and more.
Kale is very high in Vitamin K – necessary for a wide variety of bodily functions, including normal blood clotting, antioxidant activity, and bone health.
All vegetables are rich in nutrients and fiber and are low in calories, and should be the cornerstone of all healthy diets.
A word of caution:
Vitamin K is known as the clotting vitamin because without it blood doesn’t clot properly. If you are taking blood thinning or anti-coagulant drugs, like warfarin (brand name Coumadin), you need to avoid kale because the high level of vitamin K may interfere with the drugs. Consult your doctor before adding kale to your diet.
Kale contains measurable amounts of oxalates, naturally occurring substances found in plants, animals, and human beings. When oxalates become too concentrated in body fluids, they can crystallize and cause health problems. Individuals with already existing and untreated kidney or gallbladder problems may want to avoid eating kale.
Environmental Working Group (EWG) in their 2013 report, Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, conventionally grown kale are contaminated with concentrations of organophosphate insecticides, which are considered to be highly toxic to the nervous system. While they were not among the EWG’s original “Dirty Dozen” varieties of produce with the most concentrated overall pesticide residues the EWG renamed their produce category of concern from “Dirty Dozen” to “Dirty Dozen Plus” with kale and collard greens being the “Plus” conventionally grown produce. Therefore, the best solution is to buy organic kale.
References & Further Reading:
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