When a food shows itself to be beneficial above and beyond its standard nutritional content, it is considered a Super Food. The kale health benefits prove that it belongs on this rather short but powerful list of super foods.
Kale, native to the Mediterranean, was one of the earliest vegetables cultivated by the ancient Egyptians and Romans. As a cruciferous vegetable, it packs an astounding amount of disease-fighting nutrients in every bite.
It contains more nutrients than other members of the cruciferous family – including collards and turnip greens, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage.
Pound for pound Kale gives you up to 120% more vitamin C and 150% more vitamin A than spinach – and did you know it even contains more iron than beef per calorie?
For vegetarians and vegans, kale health benefits offers valuable vitamins and antioxidants normally found only in meat sources. It has even been lauded as the “new beef.”
Found in every leaf of kale is a powerful range of antioxidants; it scored an 85 out of 100 in nutritional completeness, and combines the protein and minerals your body needs daily according to nutritional data published by the USDA.
In addition to protein, kale health benefits provide dietary fiber, thiamin, riboflavin, folate, iron, vitamin K, vitamin B6, calcium, potassium, copper and manganese.
It is also considered an excellent nourishing low-glyemic food choice for diabetics.
7 Surprising Health Benefits that Kale Brings to Your Table:
- A Natural Cancer Fighter – Kale contains an abundance of glucosinolate enzymes that release isothiocyanates, which don’t allow carcinogens to become active and speed up their removal from your system.
- Detoxifies Your Liver & Protects Your Heart – Sulforaphane, another glucosinolate and anti-cancer compound found in kale, helps your liver more efficiently remove toxins. Kale reduces arterial inflammation, and its high levels of fiber have been found to lower LDL “bad cholesterol.”
- Natural Sunscreen Protection – Kale contains the highest quantities of beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that work from the inside out and act as “natural sun block.” These antioxidants help protect the plant from damaging UV rays, and in turn help protect your skin.
- More Iron than Beef – Kale gives you more iron per calorie than beef and provides essential fiber – necessary to prevent heart disease and digestive disorders – which beef does not provide. It also delivers 2g of protein per cup, making it a viable meat alternative.
- Non-Dairy Source of Calcium – Kale supplies more calcium per calorie than milk and is easier for the body to digest.
- Boosts Your Eyesight Better than Carrots – One of the most important vitamins for eye health is vitamin A. If your body is deficient, you can develop night blindness, dry eyes, and age-related macular degeneration. One cup of kale provides 206% of vitamin A, per the recommended daily allowance.
- Anti-Aging Skincare – Vitamin C delivers a plethora of health benefits, including fewer wrinkles and firmer, softer skin. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition determined that those who didn’t eat enough Vitamin C had more age-related dry skin than those who consumed the recommended daily allowance. One cup of raw, chopped kale provides 134% of your recommended daily allowance!
Fresh is Best for Kale
Adding finely chopped kale to soups, salads and smoothies adds enormous amounts of nutritional value without a heavy flavor. It can be sprinkled over main dishes as a garnish without altering the overall taste. Steaming kale preserves more of the valuable kale health benefits and antioxidants than any other form of preparation, but serving it raw gives you 100% of the good stuff.
Dinosaur kale, also known as Lacinato or Tuscan kale, is the most common variety found in stores. Be sure to pick the ones with the darkest green leaves. To preserve freshness, store rinsed leaves in water and refrigerate. Chopping and freezing in storage bags provides the same nutritional value as fresh kale and lasts about a week.
For a tasty alternative to potato chips, try Baked Kale Chips:
1 bunch kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a non-insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- With a knife or kitchen shears, carefully remove the leaves from their thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. Using a salad spinner, wash and thoroughly dry kale.
- Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning salt.
- Bake until the edges are brown but not burnt, typically 10 to 15 minutes.
- Be sure to watch your baking time, as baking too little will give you limp kale and baking too long may result in a charred taste.
An Environmentally Friendly Food
As our population increases, meat production expands, putting a strain on environmental resources. Environmentalists continue to present evidence that cattle-growing is one of the essential causes of global warming. By making fruits and vegetables the larger portions at every meal, we preserve not only our health, but also do our part to limit the drain on our planet.
Crops such as kale grow fast, hold up well, and take far less space and resources than the 55 billion large cattle raised for food. While kale is ready to harvest in less than two months, cows need at least 18 months before they are ready for slaughter.
Growing one pound of kale takes two months, a few cups of water, and nutrient-rich soil. Raising one pound of beef can take two years, 16 pounds of grain, more than ten times the fossil fuel, and two tons of water.
Kale provides more nutrition per ounce and no harmful side effects like those associated with meat consumption: Think, heart disease and high cholesterol! Kale is better for the planet and better for your body.
Why not grab a bunch the next time you’re at the store, or try growing your own? If you really want to go “green” – kale is a delicious place to start!
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