Kale, also known as sukuma wiki is one of the dark leafy greens we are constantly admonished to eat. There are about 16 different varieties of kale grown all over the world with equally diverse uses in the kitchen. It belongs to the same family as cabbage, collard greens and Brussel sprout. Here are the health and nutritional benefits of this highly nutritious vegetable.
Kale is rich in vitamin A, vitamin K and vitamin C. It also has a variety of B vitamins, Manganese, Calcium, Copper, Potassium, Magnesium and is a good source of fibre. It contains very little fat, a large portion of which is an omega-3 fatty acid known as alpha-linolenic acid. It’s loaded with antioxidants and has an incredibly low-calorie content making it one of the most nutrient-dense foods in existence.
Kale is high in antioxidants including beta-carotene, vitamin C as well as other flavonoids and polyphenols. Antioxidants protect cells by counteracting oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Oxidative damage is linked to a variety of illnesses including cancer and even premature aging. Antioxidants also have powerful heart-protective, blood pressure-lowering, anti-inflammatory effects.
Kale is packed full of nutrients that support heart health, including potassium, fibre, folate, and calcium. Fibre-rich foods help lower that risk of heart disease by lowering LDL “bad” cholesterol.
People who consumed more fibre in a study were more likely to have lower levels of total cholesterol. Consuming fibre has also been linked to lower blood pressure which is another risk factor for heart disease.
Protection against diabetes
People who consume a lot of fibre have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Magnesium also protects against type 2 diabetes. Kale has been shown to lower glucose levels, which can increase insulin sensitivity and prevent oxidative stress in people with type 2 diabetes. In this way, it helps with diabetes management and reduces diabetes symptoms.
Kale is rich in vitamin A which supports eye health. It also has vitamin C which is linked to a lower risk of cataracts. The antioxidants in it reduce the risk of macular degeneration and other age-related eye diseases.
Supports digestive health
Foods like kale that are rich in fibre and water help maintain a healthy gut. Fibre and water prevent constipation and promote regularity.
Rich in vitamin C
Kale is one of the best sources of vitamin C, a compound that plays a role in many vital functions in the body. It is necessary for the synthesis of collagen, the most abundant structural protein in the body. Vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene in it support a healthy immune system. Lifestyle: The Health Benefits Of Vitamin C, Food Sources And Its Benefits In Fighting COVID-19
Rich in vitamin K
Vitamin K in kale is absolutely critical for blood clotting which is essential for healing and stopping bleeding in the event of a cut or other wound. Vitamin K Benefits And Food Sources
Supports bone health
Kale is a good source of calcium which is needed for strong bones and teeth. Vitamin K in it works with vitamin D to support healthy bone metabolism. Health: Tips For Stronger Bones And Teeth
Healthy and skin hair
Beta-carotene and vitamin A are necessary for the growth and maintenance of all body tissues including the skin and hair. The body uses vitamin C to build and maintain collagen which is a protein that provides structure for skin, hair, and bones.
Collagen keeps the skin’s properties intact so that premature wrinkling, sagging and age spots don’t easily show. Vitamin C and beta-carotene help with the ageing process by countering oxidative stress which can cause wrinkles.
There are studies that show that vitamin C also helps shield the skin from harmful UV radiation. In these ways, kale helps with hair and skin moisture and repair.
Kale has several properties that make it a weight-loss-friendly food. It is low in calories yet high in fibre which means one feels fuller for longer. It has a low energy density which is to say it has low calories and high-water content. Eating foods with a low energy density has been shown to aid in weight loss. It also has protein and fibre, both of which are important nutrients when it comes to losing weight.
Kale is versatile and can be consumed in a variety of ways. Depending on the variety, it can be juiced, made into a smoothie, sauteed, fried, baked into chips, added to soups and even sauces that can be used on pizzas and pasta.