Kale might seem like the ugly step-sister of the crucifers — especially with superstars like broccoli and cauliflower in the family! But this leafy green is a veritable powerhouse of nutrients and health benefits that make it a true superfood.
For sure, you should make sure you’re not overlooking this great vegetable. Whenever you eat kale…
You are Getting an Incredible Variety of Vitamins and Minerals
Kale, according to the USDA, is incredibly nutrient-dense. Just one cup of this amazing leafy green, and you will be getting 24 calories, 1 gram of protein, 1 gram of carbohydrates and a half-gram of fiber. But now check out what you’ll be packing away in regards to vitamins and minerals:
- Calcium, 24 mg
- Potassium, 79 mg
- Phosphorous, 15 mg
- Vitamin C, 19 mg
- Folate, 23 mg
- Vitamin K, 1598 IU
In short, high-quality foods like kale are a great way to fill some of the “nutrient gaps” that are especially common in the American diet — which relies so much on prepackaged foods.
You are also Getting a Boatload of Antioxidants
It’s not just a ton of vitamins and minerals you’re getting. Kale also provides powerful antioxidants that work in many ways to improve your general health. Kale is rich in beta-carotene and Vitamin C (which also helps build collagen for healthy joints and beautiful, young-looking skin) as well as flavonoids like quercetin, which have been shown to decrease blood pressure, fight off viral infections and even help with depression.
Another important antioxidant to note is lutein, which can improve the health of your eyes and help reduce the risk of serious eye diseases like macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness.
In short, eating kale on a regular basis is a great way to load up on disease-fighting antioxidants.
You Are Improving Your Cholesterol Levels
High cholesterol is a real problem in America and is a major risk factor for both heart and attacks and strokes. But fortunately, apart from medication, there are natural ways to get cholesterol down to a healthy level. One of those ways is a diet rich in fruits and veggies, especially veggies like kale. Kale contains compounds that actually prevent cholesterol from being absorbed into the body — and this can help prevent it from building up in arteries and causing problems later on.
One study found that men with high cholesterol levels who consumed kale juice daily for 12 weeks were able to raise their good cholesterol up by 27% while at the same time lowering bad cholesterol by 11%, which meant a significant improvement in heart health!
You are Reducing Cancer Risk, Too
Most people worry about cancer — and with good reason, as it remains the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. That’s the bad news.
The good news? It is possible to reduce the risk of many forms of cancer through lifestyle changes — including the diet. Kale, like cabbage and broccoli, is particularly good at this. For one thing, it contains sulforophane, which has been shown to fight against the formation of cancer cells. It also contains indole-3-carbinol, better known as 1-3-C, which has gotten a lot of attention lately because of its ability to help treat breast cancer.
So for one little cup of kale, you are getting a whole wealth of health benefits. If you eat it regularly, you can improve your heart health, reduce cancer risk and load up on the vitamins and minerals your body needs for general health. It is also incredibly easy to add to your diet; kale goes well in smoothies (seriously), in salads, and even in casseroles and pasta or rice dishes.
So, try some awesome kale recipes today and start giving your body some serious TLC!