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Health Benefits of Kale (Brassica oleracea)

Kale has been on the up and up for the past few years, and for good reason. Kale is extremely rich in vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that contribute to overall good health, such as vitamin K, magnesium, and lutein.

Benefits of Kale 

Read on to learn about just some of the benefits that consuming kale can offer you.

1. Nutrient-Dense

Kale is extremely nutrient dense, perhaps the most nutrient-dense food out there. One cup of kale contains: 206% DV of vitamin A, 600% DV vitamin K, 134% DV vitamin C, and a substantial amount of magnesium, manganese, potassium, copper, calcium, and vitamin B6. This same cup of kale will cost you only 36 calories, yet also provides 2 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein.

2. Rich in Antioxidants

Kale is rich in antioxidants such as beta carotene, quercetin, kaempferol, polyphenols, and flavonoids. These antioxidants are important to help prevent premature aging and to counteract damage done to our cells due to free radicals in the body.

3. Rich in Vitamin C

Vitamin C is important not only for the immune system, but also for healthy bones, teeth, and iron levels. This vitamin is also necessary in order for collagen to be produced in the body; when collagen is produced, it gives the skin a plumper, fuller look and fights the signs of aging.

Kale contains over 100% of your recommended daily value for vitamin C. This is important because your body cannot produce this vitamin on its own, nor can it store it, so eating kale consistently will help your body maintain its needed levels of vitamin C.

4. Lower Cholesterol

Kale contains bile acid sequestrants, which help to prevent cholesterol from being absorbed into the blood. Studies suggest that because of this property, kale can both increase good cholesterol and decrease bad cholesterol levels in the blood.

5. Protects Against Cancer

Kale is chock-full of cancer-fighting nutrients and antioxidants. Sulforaphane is one of these nutrients that resides in kale and has been linked to preventing cancer. As mentioned above, kale is also rich in antioxidants that help prevent free radicals damaging the DNA of our cells, therefore reducing the likelihood of falling victim to cancer.

6. Eye Health

Kale is rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which contribute to healthy eyesight. Studies suggest that those individuals that consume enough of these two components significantly reduce their chances for cataracts and macular degeneration, which are both very common issues as we age.

7. Weight Loss Aid

Kale is extremely low in calories, but also contains protein and fiber, both of which help you to feel full. The pure density of kale is yet another reason why this leafy green veggie helps you to feel full without costing you an arm and a leg (in terms of calories).

10 Great Ways to Eat Kale…

via EatLocalGrown.com

Kale Chips – This simple preparation of kale will have you begging for more. A crispy salty treat that is better than popcorn or potato chips.

Kale Pesto – More flavorful than basil pesto, this is a great addition to pizza, pasta, or in an omelet.

Sauteed Kale – For a hearty side dish, this is a classic preparation. I saute onions and garlic before I add the kale, and add a couple dashes of hot sauce for an added kick.

Kale Quiche – You can substitute any spinach quiche with kale and it offers the same great taste with the added health benefits.

Kale Soup – A classic kale soup is made with white beans and ham or sausage, however I like this recipe of using acorn squash and kale to create a sweet and savory winter favorite.

Kale Lasagna – The perfect “make ahead” recipe for a hearty dinner is a dish the whole family can enjoy.

Kale Juice – If you own a juicer, kale is quite possibly the healthiest thing to juice. Mix it with apples, carrot and a little lemon for a drink that is better for you than liquid gold.

Kale Slaw – You can substitute raw kale for raw cabbage in this recipe.

Kale Pasta – One of my favorite ingredients to add to pasta. Goes with just about anything from spaghetti to sausage pasta to baked macaroni and cheese.

Kale Pizza – One of the joys I’ve found with eating seasonally is changing up my grilled pizza toppings. One of my favorite combinations is sauteed kale, caramelized onions, strong white cheeses, and some crispy bacon.

Kale is slowly being recognized for the super-food that it is. While the taste does take some getting used to, you’ll find that you can use kale in much the same way as you can its spinach and lettuce counterparts. It’s great in salads, used as a wrap, or just grilled on the bbq with some light olive oil.

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