Of all the superfood greens, kale is most definitely the boss! But even though it’s a veg that’s rising in popularity, many of us don’t really know the health benefits it has. Why is Kale a superfood? And why should we be eating more of the green stuff?
Before we explain the benefits, let’s remind ourselves of the basic kale facts…
Kale is a green vegetable that’s a member of the cabbage family, also related to cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, and brussels sprouts. There are various types of kale, and the leaves can be purple or green, curly or smooth, with the most common being curly kale or Scots kale.
It’s called a superfood for a reason, so here are nine backed-up explanations to why your main green squeeze should be sticking in your diet.
Packed with antioxidants:
Like other leafy greens, kale is particularly high in antioxidants. This includes beta-carotene and vitamin C, as well as various flavonoids and polyphenols. Antioxidants are substances that help counteract oxidative damage by free radicals in the body, and oxidative damage is believed to be among the leading drivers of many diseases, including cancer.
Contains more vitamin C than an orange:
When it comes to loading up on vitamin C, our first thought is usually to grab an orange. But actually you’d get more by eating kale! Just one cup of kale contains 80.4 mg of vitamin C, whereas one medium orange has 70mg.
Helps to lower cholesterol:
Kale contains bile acid sequestrants that help to lower cholesterol levels, thus leading to a reduced risk of heart disease over time. It has been found that daily consumption of kale juice for 12 consecutive weeks, increases HDL (good) cholesterol by 27%, and lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol levels by 10%, while also improving antioxidant status. For more information on food that helps to lower cholesterol, check out our previous post!
Contains more calcium than a container of milk:
Kale vs. milk! It’s not a direct comparison, but it is worth noting that per 100 grams, kale has 150 mg of calcium, while milk has 125 mg. Who’d have thought it!
One of the world’s best sources of vitamin K:
Kale is indeed one of the world’s best sources of vitamin K, with a single raw cup containing almost seven times the recommended daily amount. Vitamin K is an essential nutrient that’s critical for blood clotting, activating certain proteins and giving them the ability to bind calcium.
Very high in beta-carotene:
Kale is frequently mistaken to be a high source of vitamin A, but actually, it’s high in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that the body can turn into vitamin A. Because of this, kale can be effective in increasing your body’s levels of this all-important vitamin. There are various benefits of consuming high levels of vitamin A, such as: it can be critical for good vision, it plays an important part in healthy bone growth, it’s essential for reproduction, it supports the immune system, and is also good for skin health.
There are numerous cancer fighting substances in kale:
Another great reason to eat kale is that it’s loaded with compounds that are believed to have protective effects against cancer. This includes sulforaphane, a substance that has been shown to help fight the formation of cancer at the molecular level. Just another reason to eat your greens!
Protects your eyes:
We all know that a common consequence of ageing is that eyesight gets significantly worse. To prevent this, there are several nutrients that you can enhance within your diet. Two of the key nutrients are lutein and zeaxanthin, which are carotenoid antioxidants found in large amounts of kale and other foods. Many studies have shown that people who eat enough lutein and zeaxanthin have a much lower risk of macular degeneration and cataracts, two very common eye disorders
A great source of minerals:
Another factor that puts the “super” in superfood is that kale contains a huge amount of minerals, some of which many people are deficient in. Firstly, kale is a good plant-based source of calcium, a nutrient that’s crucial for bone health and growth, as well as playing a part in all sorts of cellular functions. In addition to this, kale is a good source of magnesium, an important mineral that most people don’t get enough of from their diet. Eating sufficient amounts of magnesium rich foods, such as kale, may protect you against type-2-diabetes and heart disease. Kale also contains potassium, a mineral that helps maintain electrical gradients in the body’s cells. Adequate potassium intake has been linked to reduced blood pressure, as well as lowering the risk of heart disease.
One advantage that kale has over it’s leafy better half spinach, is that it’s low in oxalate, a substance found in specific plants that can prevent minerals from being absorbed.
Lucky for us, there are so many ways of loading up on kale and boosting the amount of nutrients in our diet! Using kale in smoothies and salads is a great way of reaping the full benefits of this valuable vegetable in its raw form. But whether you have it raw, lightly cooked, or stewed for hours, kale is for sure a superfood we want to eat more of!
Pineapple, Kale & Apple Smoothie
- ¼ Fresh medium pineapple, cored and diced
- ½ Red apple (or green if you prefer) cored and diced
- 50g Kale
- 1 tsp. Grated fresh ginger
- 200ml non-fat Greek yoghurt
- Place all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blitz until smooth.
- Pour into a glass and enjoy!