What's the Deal with Kale?

Kale

By Kirsten Nunez. In the past few years, kale has risen to fame right along with green smoothies and clean eating. It’s easy to see why; this leafy green vegetable is a nutritional powerhouse that can bring your typical diet up a few notches. Want to learn more? Check out the following list of kale’s benefits and you’ll see exactly why it’s been dubbed the “Queen of Greens.”

  1.  Vitamin A. In just one cup of kale, you’ll get almost two times your recommended daily needs of vitamin A. This nutrient is not only an antioxidant that can potentially protect your cells from free radical damage, but it’s also a key player in good eye health. And with the help of other nutrients, vitamin A can help keep your immune system in check.
  2. Vitamin C. Since the body doesn't produce vitamin C by itself, it’s important to obtain it through your diet. Luckily for you, one portion of kale is teeming vitamin C, just enough to reach your recommended daily need. Like vitamin A, vitamin C can help stimulate a healthy immune system. It’s also essential for tissue growth, bone & teeth maintenance, and wound healing.
  3. Vitamin K. When it comes to kale’s arsenal of nutrients, vitamin K takes the lead. Containing a whopping 700% of your daily value of vitamin K, kale can help strengthen your bones and slow down osteoporosis. And as women, we all know the importance of this. Furthermore, vitamin K can benefit brain health and even potentially prevent Alzheimer’s.
  4. B-Complex Vitamins. Niacin, thiamin, and folate are just some of the B-complex vitamins that can be found in kale. Together, B-complex vitamins work together to maintain energy metabolism – that is, producing energy from carbohydrates and fats.
  5. Minerals. Kale contains minerals such as iron, calcium and copper. Iron aids in healthy cognitive function and ability to focus, and is also essential for muscle health. The mineral makeup of kale makes it a great non-dairy source for calcium, especially if you don’t consume dairy products.
  6. Antioxidants. As mentioned earlier, much of the vitamin content in kale contributes to the antioxidant activity of this super healthy veggie. Carotenoids and flavonoids, which are responsible for kale’s deep green hue, can also provide antioxidant benefits. Our cells regularly experience damage from free radicals, also known as oxidation. However, antioxidants can come to the rescue and can prevent oxidation from occurring, which may reduce the risk for various cancers.
  7. Anti-Inflammatory. Kale is also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. These “healthy fats” are not only needed by the body for normal functions, but can help combat inflammatory processes such as joint pain from arthritis. Omega-3’s have also been shown to improve mood, help cognitive function and reduce hypertension.
  8. Fiber & Cholesterol-Lowering Properties. Kale provides about 10% of your daily value of fiber. It’s not a lot, but considering the average American adult doesn't consume enough, it’s certainly a good start. Fiber regulates blood sugar, keeping it at a healthy level so you don’t feel too lethargic. It also reduces the absorption of cholesterol in the bloodstream, thus keeping cholesterol levels in check and advantageously impacting heart disease risk.
  9. Natural Energy Source. Can you believe there’s more? On top of it all, kale is great when you need that extra jump start. We can thank the vitamins, minerals and fiber for this one. Plus, by keeping your immune system in prime condition, you’ll be ready for whatever the day throws at you.
  10. There’s So Many Ways to Eat It! In the world of superfoods, kale is quite the crowd pleaser. From the base of salads to the substance of smoothies, these leafy greens can play many roles in a recipe. If you’re just starting to take on kale, do so in small doses; the bitterness might take some getting used to. Here’s a secret: pineapple can help mask the bitter taste in a smoothie. You can also try smaller snacks like this easy Kale Chips recipe!