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Kale has taken center stage in the plant world. That is no longer the case.
This vegetable saw a 400% increase on restaurant menus between 2008 and 2013, and shows no signs of slowing down. In addition to its delicious taste and versatility, it contains a powerful phytonutrient punch with a host of health benefits.
May reduce your risk of cancer
Kale is a cruciferous vegetable. Cruciferous vegetables are rich in nutrients like carotenoids that lower the risk of cancer and eye diseases. The chlorophyll in kale binds to carcinogenic heterocyclic amines that are generated when animal-derived foods are roasted at high temperatures. By binding to these compounds, chlorophyll prevents their absorption into the body, which is suggested to reduce the risk of cancer.
Improves bone health
Kale is rich in vitamin K, which modifies the proteins in the bone matrix and improves the absorption of calcium in the body for stronger bones. Making kale a regular addition to your diet will provide you with a good source of vitamin K, protein, and calcium, which are very important for cell functions and bone health.
Helps in digestion
Kale is high in fiber, which will help you feel fuller longer and promote regular, healthy elimination. Additionally, kale is low in oxalates, which in large amounts can prevent the body from absorbing calcium.
Improves skin and hair
The healthy balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in kale will do wonders for your hair and nails when consumed regularly with a balanced diet. The beta-carotene in kale is converted to vitamin A in the body, which is essential for the production of healthy hair, skin, and nails. The vitamin C content in kale is good for collagen production, which provides structure for skin, hair, and bones.
Low in calories
1 cup of kale has just 33.5 calories per serving, while providing the daily value for vitamin C, double the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, lots of vitamin K, and a hefty dose of fatty acids and minerals.
High in antioxidants
Kale is rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, which are antioxidants that have been linked to eye health and dramatically reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts. Kale is also a good source of flavonoids, which have been shown to have anti-cancer activity
Helps lower blood pressure
1 cup of kale contains approximately 329 mg of potassium, which is an important mineral to have in your diet, as it is necessary for the proper functioning of the body. A study finding indicated that those who consumed 4,069 mg of potassium per day had a 49% lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease compared to those who consumed less potassium (approximately 1,000 mg per day). Another study indicated that having adequate potassium intake would also reduce your risk of stroke.
Helps lower cholesterol
Consuming kale has been shown to have cholesterol-lowering effects when regularly incorporated into your diet. Steamed kale also significantly improves your bile acid binding ability, which will help lower cholesterol when consumed regularly.
Helps to elevate the mood
Kale is rich in phytonutrients, carotenoids, and omega-3 fatty acids that help fight depression and contribute to elevated mood. Additionally, the combination of iron, folate, vitamin B6, and protein helps your body create more serotonin and dopamine, which are neurotransmitters that have important mood-regulating functions.
Reducing inflammation in the body is key to health, and the omega-3 fatty acid content in kale helps to do just that. Inflammation is undoubtedly an underlying precursor to chronic diseases such as type II diabetes and heart disease. Processed and high-fat foods promote inflammation in the body, so cutting out refined carbohydrates, soda, red meat, and incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet is essential to reducing the risk of inflammation and chronic diseases.