Let me count the ways! I have to tell you kale has become one of my favorite superfoods. Mostly I eat it raw, in juices and smoothies, but kale is also delicious steamed and can even be baked into kale chips. (If you are curious about kale chips you can find a recipe and video at Kath Eats Real Food.) So what is kale exactly and why should you eat it?
Kale is a member of the Brassica family which includes cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, trunip, and mustard. Quite an amazing vegetable family really, providing edible roots, leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers. To me kale has a taste that is in between cabbage and broccoli, but a bit mellower. That’s why it makes a great addition to my juices. There are three types of kale: curly, dinosaur and ornamental and each are supposed to have a slightly different flavor. I’ve only seen curly in my stores, so I haven’t tried the others.
So now for the healthy benefits. Kale is high in vitamin K, A, C, calcium, and manganese. One cup of kale provies 89% of your daily requirement of vitamin C. Kale contains 45 flavonoids which provide ample antioxidant benefits, namely anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits. Next are the caretenoids and glucosinates which also provide anti cancer and detoxification support at the cellular level. Wow! Let’s break that down into the specific benefits of kale.
Kale supports both Phase I and Phase II detoxification, which basically means that it helps your body during the entire process to help remove toxins and rebuild at the cellular level. Read more about detoxification phases. Juice cleansing with kale is a great way to kick start detoxification.
According to The World’s Healthiest Foods, kale lowers the risk of at least five types of cancer: bladder, breast, colon, ovary, and prostate. Kale’s high concentration of carentenoids and flavonoids, both antioxidants. In addition to lowering risk factors, kale has shown some promise to aid the treatment of cancer as well.
Chronic inflammation leads to many health related problems such as rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, and even risk for cancer. Both the omega-3 and antioxidant content of kale helps to reduce inflammation and provide some immediate relief as well as long term health benefits.
The cardiovascular benefit of kale is seen in it’s cholesterol lowering ability. Kale binds with bile acids in the digestive system so that they do not get reabsorbed. The liver then uses stored cholesterol to help create more bile acids. Note here that the fiber in kale is beneficial to this process, so consuming the whole food (steamed or in smoothies) may provide more support.
Note: A couple of items you should know about kale. The vitamin K content in kale is very high, which is a good thing. Vitamin K helps keep the blood thin. However, if you are currently taking blood thinning medication the combination may be too much. So please consult your doctor on that. Secondly, kale does contain a considerable amount of oxalates, a naturally occuring substance. If they become too concentrated in the body they may crystalize. Therefore if you have kidney or gallbladder problems, you may also want to consult your doctor. Moderation and common sense is the key here. Eating a variety of foods is best and will provide the most balanced health benefits.
How about you. Have you tried kale? Do you sing it’s praises? What is your favorite way to eat kale?