Sometimes called leaf cabbage, kale is one of the world’s most nutrient-dense plants. Popular since Roman times, the cruciferous vegetable also abounds in vitamins and is low in calories. For instance, the nutritionists from STERNEFOOD report that a cup of raw kale contains 206 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, 684 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin K and 134 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C.
Kale can be used in a huge number of recipes. While it is often sauteed with onion and garlic, some countries such as Germany use kale as an ingredient in stews. Kale is also often used in salads in Mediterranean countries.
If you are looking to up your health game, check out some of the benefits of this leafy green.
Lower Risk of Heart Disease
Kale contains potassium, which has been shown to reduce high blood pressure and the risk of heart disease. The veggie is also packed with bile acid sequestrants, which have been attributed with regulating cholesterol levels, and thus minimizing the risk of heart problems.
Lower Risk of Cancer
Just like other cruciferous veggies, Kale contains glucosinolates, the sulfur compounds responsible for its bitter taste. Glucosinolates are broken down during digestion, creating indoles and isothiocyanates, which detoxify the body and act as anti-inflammatories. This, in turn, can protect the body’s DNA cells and reduce the risk of cancer. In addition, kale is packed with vitamin C, which also reduces inflammation and combats oxidative stress.
The vitamins lutein and zeaxanthin in kale help to protect eye cells, minimizing the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts associated with aging. The leafy green also contains vitamins A and E, as well as zinc, all of which are important for healthy eye health.
Healthy Skin and Hair
Since kale is packed with vitamin A, or retinol, which is important for healthy cell growth, it can prevent acne and dry skin. Healthy body tissue can also improve hair health. In addition, kale contains vitamin C, which is used to produce and maintain collagen levels, a protein responsible for healthy skin, hair and bones.
The beauty of kale is that it is low in calories and high in water. Plus, it gives you the feeling of fullness, which means that you are less likely to reach for snacks in between meals. Kale also contains fiber and protein, which have been shown to aid weight loss.
Better Blood Sugar Levels
Since kale is rich in fiber, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins, it may reduce the risk of diabetes. In addition, kale contains manganese, a mineral that may lower insulin resistance, which is associated with type two diabetes. As such, it can also help people with the condition control their blood sugar levels.