Why all the fuss over kale? Well, once you see its many benefits you might be jumping on the bandwagon yourself. It’s one of the most nutrient dense vegetables around, on par with well-known healthy veggies like spinach and broccoli. In some areas it’s even better for you than those, so it’s worth learning more about, and worth putting in your cart the next time you’re grocery shopping. Just so you have a good idea of the why behind eating it, here are the top benefits to eating kale.
1. It’s Brain Food
The manganese in kale helps your brain function at its best, and that can help you focus on your daily tasks at work, as well as help you feel better in general. A healthy brain is responsible for how happy we feel, how active we are, and how well we’re able to cope with the challenges life brings us. There are also amino acids in kale that specifically help the brain give us a pick-me-up. That’s why you’ll often feel lighter and brighter after a meal containing kale, instead of worn down and groggy like you can after eating other foods, or drinking energy drinks.
2. Protects Against Heart Disease
After your brain your heart is the most important organ, and it’s good to take the best care of it that you can. Kale can help with that because it contains plenty of antioxidants to help your body fight free radicals, but it’s also good because it helps keep your cholesterol levels in order due to its fiber content, and also helps with blood pressure due to its magnesium and potassium content. This makes it an important component of your overall diet and exercise strategy to have a healthy heart for the long term.
3. Anti-Cancer Benefits
The phytonutrients in kale help to battle free radical damage which has been shown to be a contributing factor for cancer risk. It also contains antioxidants in the form of Vitamin C which helps build up your immune system, and Vitamin A which helps you feel energetic and more likely to take part in exercise each day. Eating kale also helps you maintain a healthy weight, and being overweight or obese has been linked to higher risk of developing cancer. If you already have cancer you can use kale as part of your plan to fight back and become cancer free again, as these same benefits apply whether you have it or are trying to prevent it.
4. Reap the Benefits of Vitamin K
Kale is super high in Vitamin K, with one single serving of kale providing way more than what is needed. Maintaining optimal Vitamin K levels has been shown to help with bone health, regulated blood sugar levels, prevention of calcification of the arteries, and may give antioxidant benefits. There are two types of Vitamin K, and with kale you’re getting Vitamin K1 the kind found in leafy green vegetables. You’ll want to make sure that you’re also getting foods rich in Vitamin K2, but most people are not short on this vitamin and get enough from a standard health conscious diet.
5. It Has Iron Aplenty
Everyone thinks that beef is a rich source of iron, so let’s use that as a comparison. 100 grams of beef has 1.6 milligrams of iron, where 100 grams of kale has 1.5 milligrams. That’s why you’ll hear people say that kale is the new beef, since it does a good job of contributing to your daily iron needs, without the added calories and fat that comes with beef and other food sources of iron. Iron helps your brain, helps your muscles, and chronic deficiency in iron can lead to specific medical conditions. Your body is able to store iron, but it benefits from having a ready supply if needed.
6. High in Potassium
Kale has a very respectable amount of potassium, putting it on par with some of the biggest potassium wielding fruits and vegetables out there. Let’s start with the banana, which we all know is high in potassium at 358 milligrams in a 100 gram serving. That same size serving of kale will net you 228 milligrams. One better source than both of those is avocado, which gets you 485 milligrams. The key takeaway here is that kale boats a rather high level of potassium for being a vegetable, and is only outdone by spinach and swiss chard in the leafy greens department.
7. Helps You Lose Weight
Eating more kale means you’re getting full without adding much in the way of calories or fat. No matter which diet you’re on, kale should definitely be allowed, and it’s recommended as an aid for weight loss. It contains fiber to help kick your digestive system into gear and keep you regular. It also contains a bit of vegetable protein to help you with any strength training goals. Basically it stands to become one of your allies in your quest to get to and stay at your ideal weight. For recipe ideas see our list of 99 healthy kale recipes so you never get bored with the taste.
8. Anti-Inflammatory Benefits
Kale is listed as an anti-inflammatory food, which means that it should help curb rampant inflammation in the body which can lead to certain diseases and conditions. Proponents of anti-inflammatory diets say that it can help you prevent things like heart disease as well as cancer. There are several diet programs out there that detail what an anti-inflammatory diet would look like, as well as those that explain in more detail the connection between inflammation and disease. One of the most popular is The Zone Diet by Barry Sears. Kale can play a key role by helping to keep you “in the Zone”.
9. It’s Low in Calories
You can pile on the kale without piling on the calories, that’s because in a 100 gram serving it only has 33 calories. It provides quite the nutritional kick without putting a dent in your daily caloric allowances, regardless of what sort of diet you’re following. If you aren’t really into calorie counting it’s still nice to know that kale is so calorically lacking. You can add it to your plate as a side and get the sustenance you need while keeping your calories down, which helps you create a caloric deficit if you’re trying to lose weight.
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