Kale or borecole is a vegetable with green or purple leaves, where the central leaves do not form a head. This plant is part of the species Brassica oleracea and is grouped with a variety of other vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, and Brussels sprouts. The popular leafy green cruciferous vegetable is packed with many essential vitamins and minerals, which is why many dietitians label this plant as a “super food.”
Here are the seven health benefits of kale.
1. Kale is a low-calorie food.
Kale is low in calories, high in fiber, and has zero fat. One cup of kale contains 36 calories and 5 grams of fiber. The daily recommended fiber intake for men and women are 38 grams and 25 grams, respectively. Fiber aids in digestion and may help prevent constipation. With most foods being packed with calories and little nutrition, adding kale to your meals can assist in ensuring you maintain a balanced diet.
2. Kale is loaded with potential cancer-fighting compounds.
During food preparation, mastication, and digestion, sulfur-containing chemicals in kale, called glucosinolates break down into biologically active compounds like indoles, nitriles, thiocyanates, and isothiocyanates. Laboratory research suggests that indoles and isothiocyanates inhibit the development of cancer in several organs in rats and mice, including the bladder, breast, colon, liver, lung, and stomach.
When investigating the possible links between the cruciferous vegetables and the risk of prostate, colorectal, lung, or breast cancer, cohort studies in the United States, the Netherlands, and Europe have been mixed. Several studies have found little to no association. Other meta-analyses and case-control studies have found that a greater intake of cruciferous vegetables could lower the risk of prostate, lung, and breast cancer.
Indole-3-carbinol (an indole) has been shown to be more effective than placebo in reducing the growth of abnormal cells on the surface of the cervix. These studies suggest that more research needs to be conducted but could potentially show promise.
3. Kale can help make your bones stronger.
Calorie for calorie, kale contains more calcium than milk. Also, one cup of kale contains 550 micrograms of vitamin K, or 680 percent, of the daily recommended needs. Adequate vitamin K consumption acts as a modifier of bone matrix proteins, improves calcium absorption, preventing bone loss and osteoporosis.
4. Kale could improve your immune system and fight infection.
Vitamin C is a vital immune system booster. Although an increased intake of vitamin C during sickness does not help the immune system, taking foods with vitamin C before you get sick helps the likelihood of getting sick. One cup of kale contains 134 percent of the recommended vitamin C needs.
5. Kale may help ensure that you have healthier vision.
Dark leafy greens like kale are rich in the carotenoid antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants form the yellow pigment in the eye and absorb blue wavelengths of light to protect the macula from damage. The macular is an oval-shaped pigmented area near the center of the retina of the human eye that is responsible for visual acuity.
6. Kale can help reduce the risk of heart disease.
Kale is rich in potassium. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the recommended 4700 milligrams of potassium is not obtained by many individuals in the United States, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, despite the benefits of increased potassium intake. One study suggested that people who consumed 4069 milligrams of potassium per day had a 49 percent lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease compared with those who consumed less potassium, approximately 1000 milligrams per day.
Research, published in the journal of Biomedical and Environmental Sciences, evaluated the effects of kale juice supplementation for three months for men with high cholesterol levels. They found that regular meals supplemented with kale juice improved the HDL- to LDL-cholesterol ratio and antioxidant systems, thus reducing the risk of coronary artery disease.
7. Kale could help manage their type 2 diabetes.
The alpha-lipoic acid, found in kale, has shown to decrease neurological diseases in individuals with diabetes, reduce glucose levels, increase insulin sensitivity, and prevent oxidative stress-induced changes in cells.
Several studies have indicated that individuals with type 1 diabetes who consume high-fiber diets have lower blood glucose levels and type 2 diabetics may have improved blood sugar, lipids, and insulin levels.
Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: July 16, 2014
Last updated: June 7, 2018
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