Leafy greens are among the best sources of many vitamins and minerals. Cruciferous vegetables, which include kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cabbage, contain high levels of cancer-fighting phytonutrients. Kale, as a both a cruciferous vegetable and a leafy green, combines the health-promoting properties of these two categories. Here are ten amazing things eating kale can do for your health.
1.Increase your intake of vitamins and minerals. Packed with vitamin K, vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, beta-carotene, and iron, kale is one of the most nutritious foods in your local fruit and veg shop. Better, kale has much lower levels of the anti-nutrient oxalate than other popular greens such as spinach, making its minerals more easily absorbable.
2. Promote bone health. Kale is one of the best natural sources of Vitamin K and contains high levels of calcium. Vitamin K is essential for the function of certain proteins that promote bone metabolism and help move calcium from the bloodstream into bones. Calcium, in turn, is incorporated into the bone’s structure, increasing its strength over time.
3. Prevent cancer. Glucosinolates, a group of sulfur-containing compounds found in kale and its cruciferous relatives, are some of the best-studied and most-proven compounds for preventing cancer. Glucosinolates found in kale have been shown to kill liver, breast, and bladder cancer cells in laboratory tests. In rats exposed to carcinogenic chemicals, dosing with glucosinolates reduced the number of cancer-promoting genetic mutations the rats developed.
4. Increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Kale is a source of these essential fatty acids, which are nutrients required for healthy brain, heart, and hormonal function. The human body cannot synthesize omega-3s, so it is important to obtain adequate amounts from foods.
5. Improve your workouts and energy levels. The iron, B vitamins, and magnesium found in kale can enhance workouts by improving your cardiovascular function, muscle function, and use of energy from food.
6. Reduce the risk of heart disease. Researchers at Vanderbilt University showed that a diet including cruciferous vegetables is associated with reduced inflammation and better cardiovascular health (2). Kale’s content of flavonoid phytonutrients may also help protect the heart. A study reported in The Lancet showed individuals with a higher daily intake of flavonoids had a lower risk of heart disease (3).
7. Encourage detoxification. Glucosinolates may protect the body against toxic damage by changing the way certain chemicals are broken down in the liver and elsewhere in the body, according to a research group at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine(4). The flavonoids found in kale may also lessen the negative effects of excessive fat intake on liver health.
8. Improve digestive health. The fiber and magnesium found in kale can help regulate digestion.
9. Protect eye health. Kale has higher levels of beta-carotene, the precursor of Vitamin A, than any other green. It also contains lutein, a phytonutrient associated with eye health. Scientists have shown that lutein acts as an antioxidant and that high lutein intake is strongly associated with a reduced risk of cataract (5).
10. Prevent diabetes. Phenolic compounds found in kale and other cruciferous vegetables may help regulate blood sugar both in diabetics and in non-diabetics.
Maintaining optimal intake of vitamins, minerals, fiber, essential fatty acids, and phytonutrients can enhance health and prevent disease in a multitude of ways, but most of us are low on several of these nutrients. Load up on health-promoting compounds from kale, and your body will thank you.