Health Benefits of Kale
Back when I started drinking green smoothies on a daily basis, kale was one of the ingredients I added basically everyday.
The reason for this is because there are quite a few health benefits of kale and it’s well known as a superfood that should be incorporated into your diet if you’re looking to eat healthier and get more vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants into your body.
These days I even add kale to my salads, so I’m no stranger to the popular dark leafy green.
It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to lose weight or you just want to eat a healthier, more balanced diet, with just 36 calories per cup kale is a great veggie that offers a wide range of different benefits that your body, both physically and mentally, will benefit from.
What I love about kale is that you can either eat it raw or cook it up in a variety of recipes depending on what your preferences are.
It’s really easy to toss a handful into some salad, make a soup with it, incorporate it into a stir fry, or blend some up in a green smoothie.
Today, I want to talk about all of the different kale benefits and why you should be adding kale to your grocery list right away.
The Health Benefits of Kale
It’s Really Nutrient Dense
Of all of the different superfoods and other healthy leafy greens, kale is one of the most nutrient dense foods that you can eat on the entire planet.
In case you didn’t know, it’s a member of the cabbage family and it’s in the same family as other cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, collard, and cabbage.
These are all very healthy vegetables for you that you also want to be incorporating into your diet alongside with kale.
As for kale itself, there are quite a few different varieties, the leaves are typically found in either purple or green, and they can come curly or smooth depending on the variety that’s available locally.
The most popular type of kale that you will likely find at your local grocery store is known as Scots kale, and it’s of the curly variety with green leaves.
In just one cup of raw kale (roughly 67 grams) here are some of the incredibly high levels of nutrients you can expect:
- Vitamin A (206% of your recommended daily intake (RDI))
- Vitamin K (684% of your RDI)
- Vitamin C (134% of your RDI)
- Manganese (26% of your RDI)
- Copper (10% of your RDI)
- Vitamin B6 (9% of your RDI)
- Potassium (9% of your RDI)
- Magnesium (6% of your RDI)
Even with all these health benefits, there is only about 36 or so calories in a single cup with just 6 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fiber, and a decent 3 grams of total protein.
There isn’t very much fat in a serving of kale, but the fact that there is comes in the form of alpha linolenic acid, which is a healthy omega-3 fatty acid.
With all of this in mind, it’s not surprising that kale is one of the most nutrient-dense foods and that if you want to incorporate more nutrients and vitamins into your diet kale is something that you want to eat on a regular basis.
Eating Kale Can Help with Weight Loss
Probably one of the main reasons people start looking into the kale health benefits it’s because they’re looking to lose weight and want to start eating healthier foods.
There are a few interesting aspects of kale that make it a great choice if you’re trying to lose weight and eat healthier.
By itself, it’s very low in calories, with just 36 calories per cup, and thanks to the fiber content it’s going to help fill you up even if you just eat a small amount.
This helps to prevent you from overeating and, when incorporated into a bigger salad, is going to provide you with a huge boost of healthy vitamins and other nutrients.
Kale also has a very high water content, which is going to help keep you hydrated, and this gives the green veggie a low energy density compared to other foods that are higher in carbs and sugars.
There are a few studies that have shown that incorporating more foods that have a low energy density into your diet helps with weight loss and leaves you better equipped at handling your cravings/overeating tendencies.
I haven’t come across any studies that directly show a link between eating kale and losing weight, however it makes sense that incorporating it into your diet is going to help you out in the long run.
The Leaves are Packed with Antioxidants
As a cruciferous leafy green, it shouldn’t be surprising that kale comes packed with antioxidants that are great for your entire body.
Some of the main antioxidants found in this vegetable include:
- Vitamin C
- A range of polyphenols and flavonoids
I’m sure that you’ve heard of them before, but in case you’re wondering, antioxidants help your body fight against oxidative damage that’s caused by harmful free radicals that can be found throughout your body.
The damage caused by these free radicals is known to be one of the main causes of different cancers, diseases, and the damage also can accelerate aging.
That’s why it’s a good idea to add as many different vegetables that are high in antioxidants into your diet that you can so that your body is better equipped at fighting these free radicals and maintaining a healthier baseline.
These healthy antioxidants also provide other health benefits that shouldn’t be overlooked either.
For example, there are large amounts of kaempferol and quercetin found in kale, and these flavonoids can help to lower blood pressure and provide anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-viral, anti-depressant, and even cardioprotective beneficial effects.
Rather than relying on multivitamins or a host of pills to improve your health, you can start with adding a lot more kale to your diet and taking advantage of all these health boosting benefits.
Loaded with Vitamin C
Compared to many other vegetables, kale has a much higher amount of vitamin C per 100g.
It comes packed with nearly 5x more Vitamin C than you’ll find in spinach, and it’s surprisingly one of the best sources of this healthy vitamin that you could ever incorporate into your diet.
To shock you even more, there’s more vitamin C in just one cup of raw kale than in an entire orange!
Vitamin C is a very healthy vitamin and antioxidant that provides a lot of benefits to the cells in your body and helps them to function as effectively as possible.
One of the main benefits is that it synthesizes collagen.
This is the structural protein in your body that’s found in the most abundance, so you definitely don’t want to miss out on having a good level of vitamin C in your body, something that’s made easy with kale.
It’s the Best Source of Vitamin K
Another vitamin found in abundance in kale is Vitamin K.
This vitamin activates specific proteins in your body and enables them to bind calcium that’s floating around in your cells and blood stream – helping your body to more effectively clot blood.
Among all of the different foods that come with high levels of Vitamin K, kale is one of the best and most readily available sources that you can find with 7 times the recommended daily intake of Vitamin K found in just one cup of raw kale.
This goes to show that you really don’t need to eat that much of this healthy green if you want to take advantage of all of the vitamins and nutrients that it’s loaded with.
High Levels of Beta-Carotene
With so many nutrients and vitamins packed inside a small amount of kale, it shouldn’t be surprising that it’s also high in beta-carotene.
This is an antioxidant that your body is able to turn into Vitamin A, another healthy vitamin.
Vitamin A is a great nutrient for vision, it helps with your overall eye health, it boosts your immune system, and it’s also used for keeping your skin healthy as well.
Instead of focusing on taking supplements and multivitamins, you’re bound to be much better off by eating kale as regularly as you’re comfortable with.
Amazing Source of Healthy Minerals
Thanks to the poor diet that so many people unfortunately follow, mineral deficiencies are quite common.
Kale is packed with beneficial minerals, such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, and you don’t need to eat very much of it to get your daily recommended intake of these minerals.
You can get calcium from milk and other dairy products, although the plant-based calcium from kale is also important for nutrient diversity.
Calcium has a positive impact on bone development, overall bone health, and also helps with a variety of different cellular functions in your body.
The magnesium helps to protect your body against heart disease as well as Type 2 diabetes, and this mineral is one that many Americans and people following poor diets are the most deficient in.
Too high potassium levels help the cells in your body to better maintain their electrical gradient, along with providing some other health benefits such as a lower risk of heart disease and lower blood pressure.
Even though there are other leafy greens that come loaded with minerals, such as spinach, kale is actually advantageous in one regard as it doesn’t have as high levels of oxalate as many other leafy greens.
This is substance can actually prevent the minerals in the food that you’re eating from being properly observed, so you’re not able to take full advantage of the higher amount of minerals depending on what you’re eating.
Kale Helps to Fight Cancer-Related Compounds in Your Body
I’ve already mentioned the connection that kale has with cancer, especially when it comes to all of the beneficial vitamins and nutrients.
Another great thing about it is that there are compounds, such as sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol, found in decent amounts in kale, and these compounds are said to provide the body with protective effects when it comes to dealing with cancerous cells.
Sulforaphane helps your body to fight the formation of cancerous cells at a molecular level, basically slowing down its formation and providing your body with the time it needs to mount a better fight against the harmful cells.
The other compound, indole-3-carbinol, is also believed to help your body prevent the development of cancerous cells.
It’s not just kale, however, most leafy greens and other cruciferous vegetables offer cancer-fighting benefits and it’s a good idea to eat as many dark green and leafy veggies that you want to in order to take full advantage of all of the benefits that they offer.
It’s Cheap (You Can Grow it at Home)
Depending on where you live in the world, kale is actually pretty affordable so you can easily incorporated into your diet without going over budget or spending a lot like you would on other healthy foods, like nuts or seafood.
It’s also really easy to grow kale in your own garden at home, and it continues to provide a large yield of leaves throughout the entire growing season.
Especially if you have the space and you like gardening, it’s a good idea to grow your own kale and use it as much as you want.
Even if you end up growing too much, you can use it in green smoothies or even turn it into chips if you’re so inclined.
There’s no way around it – kale is one of the healthiest things you can eat and there are tons of benefits of adding it to your diet on a regular basis.
You can use it in salads, blend it up into a smoothie, eat it raw, mix it in with some scrambled eggs, or prepare it any way you like.
The important thing is that you introduce it into your diet right away or at least start eating as much as you want whenever you get the chance.
It comes packed with beneficial vitamins, nutrients, minerals, antioxidants, and it’s low in calories yet nutritious so it’s great even if you’re on a diet.
Looking for other healthy foods to start adding to your diet?
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