Of all the super healthy greens, kale is the king. It is definitely one of the healthiest and most nutritious plant foods known to man! Kale is loaded with all sorts of beneficial compounds, some of which have powerful medicinal properties as well. Here are 4 health benefits of kale:
Kale is a popular vegetable, a member of the cabbage family (which is also great). It is related to cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts (yummy). It turns out there are many different types of kale believe it or not. The leaves can be green or purple in colour, and have either a smooth or curly shape. The most common type of kale is called curly kale or Scots kale, which has green and curly leaves and a hard, fibrous stem.
A single cup of raw kale (about 67 grams) contains:
Vitamin A: 206% of the RDA.
Vitamin K: 684% of the RDA (wow).
Vitamin C: 134% of the RDA.
Vitamin B6: 9% of the RDA.
Manganese: 26% of the RDA.
Calcium: 9% of the RDA.
Copper: 10% of the RDA.
Potassium: 9% of the RDA.
Magnesium: 6% of the RDA.
That is impressive!
Then it contains 3% or more of the RDA for Vitamin B1 (Thiamin), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Iron and Phosphorus. This is coming with a total of 33 calories, 6 grams of carbs (2 of which are fiber) and 3 grams of protein. Kale contains very little fat, but a large portion of the fat in it is the omega-3 fatty acid called alpha linolenic acid.
Given the low calorie content, kale is among the most nutrient dense foods in existence. Eating more kale is a great way to dramatically increase the total nutrient content of your diet, boosting one’s immune system and improving vitamin A and K (important fat soluble vitamins).
Kale, like other leafy greens, is very high in antioxidants. This includes beta-carotene, vitamin C, as well as various flavonoids and polyphenols. Antioxidants are substances that help counteract oxidative damage by free radicals in the body. Oxidative damage is believed to be among the leading drivers of ageing and many diseases, including cancer. But many substances that happen to be antioxidants also have other important functions. This includes the flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol, which are found in relatively large amounts in kale. They have powerful cardioprotective, blood pressure lowering, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-depressant and anti-cancer effects. Our nutrition module on our PT course talks about other foods as well.
Vitamin C is an important nutrient. It is a water-soluble antioxidant that serves many vital functions in the body’s cells. For example, it is necessary to synthesize collagen, the most abundant structural protein in the body. Kale is much higher in vitamin C than most other vegetables, containing about 4.5 times much as spinach. The truth is kale is actually among the world’s best sources of Vitamin C. A cup of raw kale contains more vitamin C than an orange. Get this stuff in your fridge!
Cholesterol has many important functions in the body. One of them is being used to make bile acids, which are substances that help us digest fats. The liver turns cholesterol into bile acids, which are then released into the digestive system whenever we eat a fatty meal. When all the fat has been absorbed and the bile acids have served their purpose, they are reabsorbed into the bloodstream and used again. This reduces the total amount of cholesterol (VLDL's) in the body. This should lead to a reduced risk of heart disease over time.
Here are just a few benefits of kale, there are many more! The more you read about food and it's effects on human health make you realise how much we can actually help ourselves when trying to improve quality of life. On our Personal Training courses we focus on client behavioural change and how to implement this into dietary habits. For more information on our courses simply get in touch with us.