Kale, often dubbed as a “superfood”, is a leafy green vegetable with an impressive array of health benefits. It is a powerhouse of micronutrients and antioxidants, and it is one of the extremely nutritious green leafy vegetables. Moreover, kale has an array of beneficial compounds that boost several medicinal properties. This nutritional powerhouse is a versatile addition to your diet and can positively impact your overall well-being.
Health Shots got in touch with N Lakshmi, Senior Dietitian, Kamineni Hospitals, Hyderabad, to explore ten notable health benefits of kale.
10 surprising health benefits of kale
Kale is versatile and gives a burst of nutty, earthy flavour in the mouth that helps it work wonders with a myriad of recipes. Here are the health benefits of kale:
1. Rich in nutrients
“Kale is exceptionally nutrient-dense. It’s packed with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, manganese, calcium, and potassium. This diverse nutrient profile contributes to overall health and well-being,” says the expert.
Kale is a potent source of antioxidants like quercetin and kaempferol. These antioxidants help combat oxidative stress and inflammation, reducing the risk of chronic diseases, including cancer and heart disease.
3. High in fiber
The expert says, “Kale is a rich source of dietary fiber, which helps in healthy digestion. It induces a feeling of fullness and helps keep blood sugar levels under check. It’s particularly high in soluble fibre, which can help lower cholesterol levels”.
4. Strengthens the bones
Kale is an excellent source of vitamin K, crucial for bone health as it helps calcium to reach the bones. Adequate vitamin K intake can reduce the risk of fractures and osteoporosis as well.
5. Good for eyes
Kale contains lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that are essential for eye health. They protect the eyes from harmful UV rays and reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
6. Promotes heart health
“Kale’s combination of fibre, potassium, and antioxidants support heart health by lowering blood pressure, reducing cholesterol levels, and decreasing the risk of heart disease,” says the expert.
A study done on 149 people suffering from metabolic syndrome concluded that consumption of 14 grams of kale powder daily for 8 weeks witnessed a significant drop in bad cholesterol levels, along with blood pressure, fasting blood sugar levels, and belly fat.
7. May help prevent cancer
The expert says that the phytochemicals in kale, such as sulforaphane, have been linked to a reduced risk of cancer. They help the body detoxify and eliminate potentially carcinogenic compounds.
8. Reduces inflammation
Kale’s high content of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids can help combat chronic inflammation, which is a contributing factor to many diseases, including arthritis and autoimmune conditions.
9. Manages weight
“Kale is low in calories and has high fibre content that makes it an excellent choice for those looking for weight-loss friendly foods. It provides a sense of fullness without packing on excess calories,” adds the expert.
10. Blood sugar regulation
The fiber and antioxidants in kale can help regulate blood sugar levels, making it beneficial for individuals with diabetes or those at risk of developing the condition.
How to include kale in your diet?
Incorporating kale into your diet can be easy and versatile. It can be used in salads, smoothies, sautés, soups, and even baked as crispy kale chips. However, it is essential to remember that while kale offers numerous health benefits, it is best to enjoy a diverse diet that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables to ensure you receive a wide range of nutrients.
It is also important to consult with a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian before making significant dietary changes, especially if you have specific health concerns or conditions. They can provide personalized guidance on how to incorporate kale and other foods into a balanced and healthy eating plan.