Green, leafy vegetables have always been the mascots for healthy, clean eating. And, of late, the most popular one of them all has been kale.
Most experts, health bloggers, and fitness enthusiasts today recommend adding kale to your diet. And, if you’re wondering what the fuss is all about, we’ve put together a few things that you might not have known about this “superfood.”
1. It’s High In Calcium
Often, people who don’t consume dairy have trouble with finding good sources of calcium. But, with 150 milligrams of calcium in just 100 grams, kale makes for a good source of calcium.1
Additionally, unlike other non-dairy sources of calcium, the absorbability (the amount of a certain nutrient that gets absorbed from food) of kale is high. So, if you’re struggling to get enough calcium, be sure to add kale to your diet.2
2. It’s Low In Calories
Often, counting calories results in not eating enough nutritious food. Hence, people who are watching their calories or are following certain weight loss diets might run the risk of not having a nutritionally-balanced diet.3
Kale is one food you can add to your diet without packing on the pounds. In fact, 1 cup of kale has only 8 calories.4
3. It’s Rich In Nutrients
Apart from calcium, kale is high in vitamin C with 19.2 grams in a cup. Additionally, a cup of kale contains well over 20% of the daily recommended amount of vitamins A.5
Kale is also high in vitamin K with 112.6 milligrams in a cup. To add to this, it’s rich in potassium, folate, and fiber. It’s no wonder the health industry is so obsessed with this vegetable.6
4. It’s Best When Organic
According to the Environmental Working Group, certain fruits and vegetables are prone to having residual pesticides, including kale. This could lead to health disorders such as skin conditions, respiratory problems, miscarriage, birth defects, memory disorders, Parkinson’s disease, depression, and cancer.
Instead, shop for organic kale or head to the farmer’s market. Additionally, you could grow your own at home.7
5. It’s High In Antioxidants
Kale is high in antioxidants that fight free radical damage and prevent cancer and premature aging. Additionally, it lowers blood pressure.8
Kale’s antioxidant content also provides anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties. Recent studies further indicate that Lutein, a naturally occurring carotenoid in kale, might also protect one’s vision. Hence, if you’re at risk of any of the health conditions discussed above, you should include kale in your diet.9
6. It’s A Part Of A Healthy Family
Kale belongs to the same family as broccoli, collard greens, cabbage, and cauliflower. These vegetables are also full of essential vitamins and minerals.
However, kale is believed to have the sweetest taste of all of the greens listed above. Regardless, they all make a good addition to a healthy diet.10
7. It’s Versatile
It might seem like the only way you can eat kale is by adding it to your salads. But, you could add kale to your smoothies, sandwiches, and soup as well.
If you like trying healthy substitutes for popular junk food, you could try baking kale chips. You could also substitute it for a taco shell in Mexican recipes.11
8. There Are Different Types Of It
When you’re at the store, you’re bound to find varieties of kale such as the “Vates Dwarf Blue Curled,” “Tuscan,” “Winterbor,” and “Redbor.” Options like “Tuscan Kale,” also known as “Lacinato,” “Dinosaur,” or “Black Kale,” are popular as well.12
When you’re picking kale, be sure to go for firm, deep-colored leaves and moist hardy stems. Additionally, the leaves should look fresh and not be wilted, with no signs of browning, yellow or small holes.13
9. Cook It Right To Preserve Nutrients
Excessive cooking is believed to destroy nutrients in most foods. Although very few nutrients are lost in kale when it’s cooked, you can preserve them all by quick cooking it.
To do this, cook the leaves in just enough (but not too much) boiling, salted water for a few minutes until the leaves turn tender. In addition to preserving nutrients, this method will keep the leaves from sticking to each other.14
10. It’s Healthiest When Added To Fats
Kale contains a little amount of omega-3 fatty acids. However, the body needs a little more dietary fat to absorb the carotenoids (antioxidants) and vitamin K from kale.
So, you could toss kale in a few teaspoons of olive oil or canola oil. Additionally, you could toss it with an avocado or peanut-based dressing.15
Although kale is a healthy option for most people, you should avoid eating kale if you take blood-thinning medicine, such as anticoagulant or antiplatelet drugs, since foods high in vitamin K affect how the medicines work.16 That said, considering the benefits of kale, there isn’t any reason for you to not add it to your grocery list.
|↑1, ↑6||Basic Report: 11233, Kale, raw. The United States Department Of Agriculture.|
|↑2||Heaney, Robert P., and Connie M. Weaver. “Calcium absorption from kale.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 51, no. 4 (1990): 656-657.|
|↑3||Interested in Losing Weight? The United States Department Of Agriculture.|
|↑4||Basic Report: 11233, Kale, raw. The United States Department Of Agriculture.|
|↑5, ↑10, ↑16||Healthy food trends — kale. The US National Library Of Medicine.|
|↑7||Health Risks of Pesticides in Food. Center For Ecogenetics And Environmental Health.|
|↑8||The Health Benefits of Kale. Seacoast Career School.|
|↑9||Antioxidants: Beyond the Hype. Harvard School Of Public Health.|
|↑11||Got Kale? The University Of Illinois Chicago.|
|↑12||Kale. The University Of Florida.|
|↑13||The fantastic health benefits of kale. Michigan State University.|
|↑14||Kale Nutritive Vegetable Rich in Vitamins, Minerals. University of California, Riverside.|
|↑15||The Health Benefits Of Dark Green Leafy Vegetables. The University Of Kentucky.|