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.
10. Gives Your Cardiovascular System a Boost
There are phytonutrients in kale that are of particular help to your cardiovascular system. Having good circulation in the body can affect everything from your focus while at work, to your sexual performance and enjoyment. Eating foods that are good for your cardiovascular system means that you are also keeping a long-term view and helping to keep your heart functioning correctly. It’s amazing to think that a simple vegetable can help with your quality of life as well as longevity, but it’s just one of the benefits kale provides.
11. Plenty of Vitamin A
The Vitamin A levels for kale are literally off the charts. In a 100 gram serving kale provides twice as much Vitamin A than you need for the day. If you’ve heard that there are disadvantages to taking too much of a certain vitamin, that is in reference to supplemental vitamins that are synthetic in nature. Your body knows how to process this burst of natural Vitamin A, and will use up what it needs and safely pass the rest on out of your body.
12. It’s Low in Fat
Kale is essentially fat free, with less than a gram of it per 100 grams of kale. It’s comparable to other vegetables like broccoli, and cauliflower, and this is understandable since they’re all cruciferous vegetables. This family of veggies is notorious for provide big health benefits but being low in total fat and calories. Consider eating a serving or two per day for overall health and vitality. When you consider all of the vitamins and minerals that you get from kale, without the drawbacks of added fat, it becomes clear that this is a vegetable that can really be of help to your body.
13. Tops You Up on Vitamin C
100 grams of kale provides you with two times as much Vitamin C as you need for the day. Oranges are one fruit that is regarded as being high in Vitamin C, and 100 grams of orange gives you only 88% of your Vitamin C needs for the day. Perhaps that’s why kale gets so much attention, it’s virtually blowing other foods out of the water in regards to its vitamin levels. For those that are watching their sugar intake, that same 100 grams of orange has 9 grams of sugar, as opposed to kale which has 1.2 grams in the same amount.
14. Extra Calcium
Milk is often touted for its calcium, but gram for gram kale has more calcium than cow’s milk, no matter what fat content the milk contains. Kale ends up losing a substantial amount of calcium when it’s cooked, so if you’re eating it for its calcium content it’s best to eat it raw for the most benefit. The benefits of calcium are widely known thanks to public service announcements on the benefits of milk. It’s “good for teeth and bones and hair. So if you don’t like milk, can’t process it, or don’t believe in consuming it, turn to kale and other calcium-rich foods to meet your daily needs.
15. It’s Low in Carbs
Kale is 9% carbs, so it can be eaten on a carb-conscious diet without worry. Depending on which diet you’re doing, or how many carbohydrates you’re allotted, kale will likely be a nice go-to for you to fill your plate up but still come in under your max. Many low carb diets stress eating meat and vegetables because they don’t have many carbs, and keeping your intake of grains and fruits down because of the higher amounts of carbs they have. Even if kale is not on your authorized list of foods to eat, it should still be allowed. Check to see if broccoli is on the list, as kale has a similar carb breakdown to broccoli.
16. Keeps Your Liver Happy
Your liver is the most important organ for keeping yourself clean on the inside. That’s because an overloaded or toxic liver will have trickle down effects to all of the other organs in your body, including your heart and brain. Making sure that you keep your liver clean is vitally important, and kale is used in many detox programs that are designed to rid your liver of impurities and supply it with what it needs to function properly. Cruciferous vegetables like kale, cabbage, and broccoli have all been shown to help the liver, and not getting enough of them has been shown to have detrimental effects.
17. It’s Versatile
One big virtue of kale is that you can use it in dozens of different ways. It holds its own as the foundation of salad, and we have plenty of kale salad recipes that show you which ingredients go nicely with it. Kale can be subbed in for spinach in any recipe calling for spinach, and it can be used in smoothies to give them an instant nutrition upgrade. It can even be made into chip form as a healthy alternative to potato chips and other crunchy snacks. Basically however you want to eat it, you won’t be disappointed, and it will always provide you with added vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein.
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