What is kale?
Swooping its way into our veggie diet, kale is one of the members of the superfood league. It is a queen of green superfood. It is a leafy vegetable from the cabbage family. It tastes bitter and chewy. These are curly shaped green or purple leaves. There are ornamental kales too. These are the ones that are white, red, pink, lavender, blue or violet in color and are grown for ornamental purposes (such as vegetable bouquets and even wedding bouquets).
What nutrients does kale contain?
Raw kale contains the following nutrients: 84% water, 9% carbohydrates, 4% protein, and 1% fat (table). It also is rich in vitamin K, A, C, B6, E, thiamine, riboflavin, beta carotene, and much more. It is a good source of minerals too (iron, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus). It is also packed with fiber.
Cool facts about kale
- Kale has more iron than beef.
- The fat content in kale amounts to zero grams.
- This leafy vegetable has more calcium than a container of milk and more vitamin C than an orange.
- Cooking kale does not diminish its nutrient content.
- Application of kale is found in skin care products and nail polish too!
Can I eat it raw?
It must not be eaten raw or in excess. If you eat it raw it interferes with the uptake of iodine by the thyroid gland. If kale is eaten in excess, it inhibits the addition of iodine in the thyroid hormone. Prolonged excessive eating can cause thyroid imbalance.
Raw kale also contains a compound that causes the calcium and magnesium to crystallize. This damages the tissues causes inflammation, and also kidney stones. You can consume kale by cooking it. Boil kale for 7 minutes to soften the fibers. Then, drain out the excess water and the kale is ready to be consumed.
What kind of benefits can I draw from eating kale?
Kale is rich in antioxidants
Antioxidants are compounds that are involved in countering the various processes that result in cellular damage in our body. Kale contains powerful antioxidants such as beta-carotene, vitamin C, flavonoids, and polyphenols. These nutrients boost your immune system and protect your body from serious illnesses.
Reverse your age with kale
You know that kale is packed with multivitamins.These vitamins help in fighting the effects of aging such as skin wrinkling, waste product accumulation in cells, etc.
Kale for your hair and skin
Beta carotenoid from kale gets transformed into vitamin A in your body as per requirement. Vitamin A facilitates the growth of all the body tissues including your skin and hair.
In terms of skin and hair care, vitamin A aids in the production of sebum which is an oil that maintains the moisture balance of your skin and hair. Vitamin A is important for your immune function, eyesight, and reproductive function.
Kale also has vitamin C. Vitamin is vital to build and maintain collagen which is an essential protein that provides structural balance for your skin and hair. Kale is also a good source of iron which is vital for blood cell production.
Kale and blood clotting
Coagulation of the blood (or clotting of the blood) takes place during an injury to enclose injury and prevent further bleeding. This process is facilitated by many components of which vitamin K is one of them. Kale is rich in vitamin K. Without this vitamin, the process of blood clotting happens in an improper manner.
Kale for your eyes
Kale is rich in chemicals such as zeaxanthin and lutein. These nutrients are required for the health of the retina and also to promote vision. These components in kale minimize the risk of macular degeneration which is the leading cause of blindness in older people.
Kale for your heart
Kale is high in antioxidants that are heart-healthy. It contains magnesium and potassium which aids in lowering the blood pressure. Kale is also fiber-rich which aids in lowering your cholesterol.
How does kale help in lowering my cholesterol?
Whenever you consume a fatty meal, the liver produces bile acids that help the digestion of fats in your body. Here, the liver converts the cholesterol into bile acids and then these bile acids are released into the digestive system. So, the bile acids are the converted form of cholesterol.
After all the fat is absorbed into your body, the bile acids are recycled back via re-absorption into the bloodstream and hence these bile acids are reused. As a result, cholesterol levels accumulate. There are substances which prevent bile acid reabsorption. These substances are called bile acid sequestrants. These sequestrants reduce the amount of cholesterol in your body.
A study highlights that drinking kale juice every day for 12 weeks increased the “good” cholesterol by 27% and lowered bad cholesterol levels by 10%. On steaming kale, it the bile acid sequestering effect is magnified.
Kale combats cancer
Kale contains organosulfur compounds, indole-3-carbinols, and isothiocyanates that exhibit protective effects against cancer. They inactivate cancer-inducing genes and also re-structure the cancer cell pathways towards cell death.
Kale is rich in these minerals too!
Kale is a mineral-rich vegetable that contains the minerals which most of us are deficient in. It contains calcium which is vital in bone health and aids in cellular activities. Kale contains magnesium which helps in coping with anxiety. Kale contains potassium that nurtures the electrical gradients in the body’s cells. Potassium also lowers your blood pressure.
Kale is your best friend for weight loss
Kale is a weight loss friendly food. A 100 g of kale gives you 49 calories of energy. Kale is very low in calories but it is bulky because of the protein and fiber content. It also has a high water content so you will tend to feel full when you consume as a part of the diet.
Kale for your bones
Kale contains a significant amount of calcium and magnesium. Both these nutrients are vital for maintaining good bone health. So, it protects your bone from osteoporosis. Magnesium functions with vitamin D for calcium absorption in your bones. Kale contains vitamin K that improves your bone density.
Should I take any precautions while consuming kale?
Yes, you should. On the following occasions, you must consult a doctor before consuming kale:
- If you are taking blood thinning medications
- If you have a kidney problem
This is because kale can interfere with the blood thinning medications as it contains vitamin K. Also, there are side effects of consuming kale beyond the moderate level.
Hyperkalemia – As you can see, this can mislead you thinking that it is a sickness due to an overdose of kale. Basically, hyperkalemia is a condition where your blood has excessive potassium amounts. This results in the following undesirable effects:
- Muscle weakness
- Chest pain
Kale is rich in fiber. You cannot consume too much fiber as it does more harm. Kale also contains a sugar compound called raffinose that is indigestible. Overeating of kale can cause gastrointestinal problems such as:o Diarrhea
Kale for a healthy diet
If you are dieting and are looking for a rapid weight loss, kale can be consumed as the primary food source. On the contrary, this will devoid your body off the calories or the energy it needs. Even though it is highly nutritious, it is not sufficient in terms of the energy required for your body to manage the daily functions. Kale is bitter, but it is a nourishing green vegetable. It is rich in important substances that aid in vital body functioning and maintenance.
Whether it is detox, weight loss or diets to treat any deficiency, kale is the green key to unlock the nutrient deficit. Apart from weight loss, you can redeem many other health benefits as well such as cholesterol reduction, improvement of bone strength, etc. Excessive eating can result in bloating and also a deficiency in energy supply to your body. You need to consult a doctor on kale consumption if you are under blood thinning medications.
You can cook it, add it into salads or bake it into chips. There are many options available where we can add kale to our suitability. In other words, you can say that kale can be made into a healthy crunchy snack.
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