What Is Kale Good For?

Hail to Kale!
Botanical name: Borecole oleracea

Kale Nutrition Facts

Kale is an easy-to-grow green1 that keeps on giving, thriving even during the cold winter. There are a variety of ways that you can include kale your favorite dishes. For instance, salads can be more delicious if you add small kale leaves, and larger kale varieties are good when they’re steamed, sautéed or cooked.2

One of the most well-known varieties of this leafy green is dinosaur kale, also called Tuscan kale or Lacinato kale.3 It has long,4 crinkly5 and dark blue- or black-green leaves,6 and is a good way to take your soups, pasta dishes and salads up a notch.7  

According to The Spruce, kale plants can be harvested while they’re young, so you can enjoy them right away, or they can be allowed to mature.8 After harvesting, they can last in your refrigerator for up to a week.9 If you don’t have enough resources grow your own kale, you can buy it at your local farmers market, provided that it’s organically grown and GMO-free.


Health Benefits of Kale

The vitamins offered by just 100 grams of this vegetable are quite impressive: 389.6 micrograms of vitamin K, 241 micrograms of vitamin A and 93.4 milligrams of vitamin C.10 In fact, kale is called a superfood,11 thanks to its numerous beneficial compounds.

For instance, a 2012 study reported that a kale variety possessed high amounts of beta-carotene and vitamin C.12 This green vegetable is also a good source of the phytonutrient indole-3-carbinol,13 which aids in DNA cell repair,14 stimulates apoptosis or cell death15 and helps inhibit cancer development.16

Sulforaphane, another compound found in kale,17 was proven by studies to deliver a protective effect against certain cancers,18,19,20 and may enhance the health of your liver21 and gastrointestinal tract.22 Lastly, kale contains lutein and zeaxanthin,23 both of which may protect your eyes from macular degeneration.24,25,26 Kale was even compared to beef,27 as both foods contain some quantities of nutrients like iron, protein and calcium.28,29

Omega-3 fatty acids are needed by your body to retain optimal health, but they need to come from outside sources.30 According to a 2018 study, kale is a good source of these healthy fats,31 and was shown to provide anti-inflammatory abilities, help build cell membranes32 and reduce your risk of heart disease,33 stroke34 or cardiac arrest.35 These fats have also been noted for their ability to alleviate symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis36 and lower your risk for lupus.37

If you want to learn more about the different vitamins and nutrients you can get from kale, check out the table below:38

Kale Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 100 grams, raw
  Amt. Per
Serving
% Daily
Value*
Calories 35 kcal  
Calories from Fat    
Total Fat 1.49 g  
Saturated Fat 0.178 g  
Trans Fat 0 g  
Cholesterol 0 mg  
Sodium 53 mg  
Total Carbohydrates 4.42 g  
Dietary Fiber 4.1 g  
Sugar 0.99 g  
Protein 2.92 g  
Vitamin A 241 µg Vitamin C 93.4 mg
Calcium 254 mg Iron 1.60 mg

Studies Done on Kale

Authors of a 2005 study published in International Urology and Nephrology discovered that out of all the foods involved in their research, kale had the highest protective effect against bladder cancer,39 considered the sixth most commonly diagnosed cancer in the U.S.40

A 2009 study highlighted that kale possesses an impressive number of flavonoids. Overall, there were 32 phenolic compounds found in the vegetable, including kaempferol and quercetin, as well as three hydroxycinnamic acids.41 These acids are known to help scavenge harmful free radicals in your body42 and deliver anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial capabilities.43

However, note that the effectiveness of several antioxidants and vitamins in kale can be lessened when the vegetable is cooked.44 As such, you may want to consider consuming kale raw or cooking it minimally.

Kale Healthy Recipes:
Refreshing Asian Marinated Kale and Kraut Salad Recipe

Kale Healthy Recipe

Ingredients:

1 head curly kale, stemmed and ripped into 2- to 3-inch pieces (these vary in size, so start with less and add more once you see how much marinade is left)

2 to 4 tablespoons sauerkraut or tsukemono (Japanese pickles)

2 hard-boiled organic, pastured eggs, sliced or diced

Procedure:

  1. 1 garlic clove, minced
  2. 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  3. 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  4. 2 teaspoons oil of high-quality extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
  5. 1/2 tablespoon water
  6. 1/2 teaspoon each of fine sea salt and black pepper
  7. Monk fruit, to taste
  8. Optional: 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder

Preparation time: 15 minutes

(Recipe by Marissa Moon of My Longevity Kitchen45)

Kale Fun Facts

Kale was first cultivated from wild varieties by the Greeks and Romans46 and later spread throughout Europe. From there, this vegetable reached the Americas in the 1600s.47  

Summary

Kale is a Brassica vegetable48 that’s made a name for itself as one of the healthiest foods you can grow in your garden49 or purchased from your local farmers market. It’s becoming better known in the U.S., not just for the flavor it brings to soups, salads and other dishes,50 but because of the many health benefits it provides.

Because kale is loaded with vitamins and nutrients,51 it may aid in reducing your risk for several cancers,52,53,54,55,56 heart disease,57 autoimmune diseases58,59and even macular degeneration.60,61,62 With all these benefits, you may want to add more of it to your breakfast, lunch or dinner.



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