Of all the super healthy greens, kale is the “king of the hill” because of its health benefits.
It is definitely one of the healthiest and most nutritious plant in existence.
Kale is loaded with all sorts of beneficial compounds, some of which have powerful medicinal properties.
Here are 10 health benefits of kale supported by science:
1. Kale is among the most nutrient dense foods on our planet
Before we get to all the health benefits, let us briefly explain what kale is. Kale is a member of the cabbage family – Brassica Oleracea. It means that it is related to cruciferous vegetables like: cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens and Brussels sprouts. There are many different types of kale: the leaves can be green or purple in color, and have either a smooth or curly shape.
The most common type of kale is called curly kale or Scots kale, which has green and curly leaves and a hard, fibrous stem.
This is what kale looks like:
A single cup of raw kale (about 67 grams or 2.4 ounces) contains:
- Vitamin A: 206% of the RDA (from beta-carotene).
- Vitamin K: 684% of the RDA.
- Vitamin C: 134% of the RDA.
- Vitamin B6: 9% of the RDA.
- Manganese: 26% of the RDA.
- Calcium: 9% of the RDA.
- Copper: 10% of the RDA.
- Potassium: 9% of the RDA.
- Magnesium: 6% of the RDA.
- It also contains 3% or more of the RDA for Vitamin B1 (Thiamin), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Iron and Phosphorus.
This is coming with a total of 33 calories, 6 grams of carbs (2 of which are fiber) and 3 grams of protein.
Kale contains very little fat, but a large portion of the fat in it is the omega-3 fatty acid called alpha linolenic acid. Given the incredibly low calorie content, kale is among the most nutrient-dense foods. So, eating more kale is a great way to ‘dramatically’ boost your health and nutrition at the same time.
2. Kale is loaded with powerful antioxidants like quercetin and kaempferol
Kale, like other leafy greens, is very high in antioxidants. This includes beta-carotene, vitamin C, as well as various flavonoids and polyphenols. Antioxidants are substances that help counteract oxidative damage by free radicals in the body. Oxidative damage is believed to be among the leading drivers of ageing and many diseases, including cancer. But many substances that happen to be antioxidants also have other important functions.
This includes the flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol, which are found in relatively large amounts in kale.
These substances have been studied intensely in test tubes and animal studies. They have powerful cardioprotective function, lower blood pressure, and act anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-depressingly.
3. Kale is an excellent source of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an important nutrient for human good health. It is a water-soluble antioxidant that serves many vital functions in the body’s cells. For example, it is necessary to synthesize collagen, the most abundant structural protein in the body.
Kale is much higher in vitamin C than most other vegetables, containing it about 4.5 times more than spinach does. The truth is kale is actually among the world’s best sources of Vitamin C. A cup of raw kale even contains more vitamin C than a whole orange fruit.
4. Kale can help lower cholesterol
Cholesterol has many important functions in the body. One of them is to make bile, which is a substance that helps us digest fats. The liver turns cholesterol into bile acids, which are then released into the digestive system whenever we eat a fatty meal. When all the fat has been absorbed and the bile acids have served their purpose, they are reabsorbed into the bloodstream and used again.
Substances called bile acid sequestrants can bind bile acids in the digestive system and prevent them from being reabsorbed. This reduces the total amount of cholesterol in the body. The process is good for your health as it should lead to a reduced risk of heart disease over time.
One study found that daily consumption of kale juice for 12 weeks increased HDL (the “good”) cholesterol by 27%, and lowered LDL levels by 10%, while also improving antioxidant status.
According to one study, steaming kale dramatically increases the bile acid binding effect. Steamed kale is actually 43% as potent as cholestyramine, a cholesterol lowering drug that functions in this way.
5. Kale is one of the world’s best sources of vitamin K
K Vitamin is an important nutrient. It is absolutely critical for blood clotting, and does this by “activating” certain proteins and giving them the ability to bind calcium. The well-known anticoagulant drug warfarin actually works by blocking the function of this vitamin. Kale is one of the world’s best sources of K vitamin, with a single raw cup containing almost 7 times the recommended daily amount (RDA).
The form of n K vitamin in kale is K1, which is different than K2 vitamin. K2 is found in fermented soy foods and certain animal products. It helps prevent heart disease and osteoporosis.