Hands up who's never been a huge fan of Kale? *Puts hands up* - it just looked so unappetising and well, you know, healthy! Well, my mind and taste buds have moved on a long way since ... here I share top reasons why you should be eating lots of Kale, plus my top recipe suggestions ...
Once I realised I needed more Kale in my life, I started using it as a green smoothie ingredient and then just started steaming it and adding it to meals too – sautéed in butter with pancetta or bacon is my personal favourite!
For many years, Kale was branded as the "poor people food" … no more, Kale is now hailed as the healthiest of all vegetables with an amazing array of vitamins and minerals in every mouthful. Part of the very trendy and oh-so-good-for-you cruciferous vegetable family (which includes broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, radish, kohlrabi, rocket and watercress), this nutrient-dense powerhouse has numerous benefits that are supported by science.
Here are 10 top reasons to make Kale a staple in your daily diet:
This is arguably the top benefit of eating Kale. Kale has a perfect ratio Omega 3: Omega 6 according to a report published by Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy. Omega 6 alone has detrimental effects on your body when consumed in high amounts.
However, eating this cruciferous veg helps to strike a perfect balance between the pro-inflammatory Omega 6 and the anti-inflammatory Omega 3. Therefore, having them in your diet can reduce the effects of Omega 6 which is found in many processed foods.
One cup of Kale has 10% of the RDA of Omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce the risk of arthritis, asthma and other autoimmune disorders. It's a lot lower than you can get from oily fish but it is a great way to bolster your Omega 3 intake.
If you need a marvellous antioxidant food source, Kale is an excellent choice. The polluted air today exposes your body to numerous free radicals which trigger cells damage and can result in diseases such as cancer. However, using Kale can counteract the cells damage caused by the unstable free radicals.
3. High in Iron
Did you know that, calorie for calorie, kale has more iron than beef? Not bad eh. Iron is essential for the formation of haemoglobin and enzymes, it transports oxygen around the body, cell growth, good liver function and more. Insufficient Iron means you may feel very tired, tingly legs and dizzy.
Note that insufficient Iron can mean insufficient QUANTITY of Iron in your blood (which a GP would spot on a blood test) and/or poor QUALITY of Iron in your blood (which I had and it took a kynesiologist to spot, I had all the symptoms but I was in the normal range for Iron ‘quantity' – just worth knowing!).
Another top benefit of Kale is that it removes toxins from the body. It contains a vital compound known as isothiocyanates (ITCs) which help to detox the cells of the body. The processed food we eat as well as other environmental pollutants intoxicate our bodies and increase the risk of disease. However, George Mateljan Foundation says that Kale is a great way to remove toxins from your body.
5. Prevents Cancer
According to research conducted by the National Cancer Institute, Kale contains at least 4 glucosinolates which have cancer-preventative benefits. The glucosinolates contain Sulphur compounds. When digested, the compounds help to prevent several types of cancer such as bladder, breast and stomach to mention but a few.
6. Eye health
Surprisingly, Kale has two carotenoids; zeaxanthin and lutein. The two nutrients play the role of sunglass filters preventing your eyes from the effect of ultraviolet light. Kale also has high levels of Vitamin A which is great for overall eye health.
7. High levels of Calcium
Kale is rich in Calcium too which helps maintain a good metabolism, improves bone health and reduces your risk of osteoporosis.
8. Cardiovascular support
Kale has the ability to lower your blood cholesterol level. It contains a high level of fibre which combines with bile to lower the level of cholesterol in the blood. This reduces the risk of coronary heart disease.
9. A rich source of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a very useful nutrient in the body due to the numerous functions it serves in the body cells. For instance, it is used to synthesize collagen, the most abundant protein in your body. Research shows that Kale is the “Queen of vitamin C” having about 4.5 times as much as spinach.
Vitamin C improves the appearance of skin, improves hydration and boosts your metabolism and immune system.
10. Great source of Vitamin K
Kale contains Vitamin K which helps to activate cell production in your bones and improve blood clotting. A report by the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology showed that it could also inhibit the chances of survival of particular cancer cells. Increased levels of Vitamin K has also been shown to help those suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
Nutritional Analysis (1 cup, chopped):
|- of which Fibre||4g|
|Vitamin K ||684% RDA|
|Vitamin A||205% RDA|
It is so simple to add more Kale into your diet, either blitzed up in a smoothie, massaged with oil for a salad or steamed and sautéed as a side dish.
Below are some of my favourite Kale recipes:
How do you use Kale in your diet? Feel free to share any good recipes you have, I'm always looking for more!