21 Amazing Benefits & Uses Of Kale

Uses Of Kale

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Did you know that kale was once called “poor people food” for its low price and easy availability? This green leafy vegetable has been used since Greek and Roman times for its health benefitting properties and is now consumed by the famous celebrities to maintain their sleek figure. This robust green vegetable belongs to the Brassica family and is cultivated across the United States, Japan and Europe. Its leaves are blue, purple or white in color, depending entirely on the cultivar. Kale is available in more than 50 varieties, the most common being curly, dinosaur like and ornamental kale.

 

Nutritional Value of Kale:

Kale is called the “Queen of Greens” because of its high nutritional value. This nutritious powerful food is extremely low in calories. Each cup provides just 33 calories. Kale is loaded with essential nutrients and vitamins. It contains vitamins like vitamin A, B, C, E, and K. A single serving of kale can easily provide you with your daily recommended amount of vitamin K and 90% of the daily value of vitamin C. A one cup serving of kale provides 335 micrograms of vitamin A, which is 47% of the daily value. Kale also boosts the calcium, phosphorus and iron value in your body. Each cup of kale provides 1004 milligrams of copper, which is more than the recommended daily value. It is one of the few green leafy vegetables containing a decent amount of omega 3 fatty acids.

Health Benefits of Kale:

Kale is used widely for its amazing health benefits. Some popular health benefits of kale include:

1. High Fiber Content:

Kale is an excellent source of dietary fiber. It improves the digestive system and prevents constipation, promoting the daily bowel movements. Isothiocyanates in kale breaks down into glucosinolates, regulating the detoxification in the body cells. It detoxifies the body, keeping the liver and kidney in perfect condition.

2. Iron:

Iron is required for the production of hemoglobin in the blood. This aids in the transportation of oxygen to other parts of the body. Healthy oxygen levels are required to perform the routine body functions. Proper levels of iron in the body also aid in the synthesis of essential neurotransmitters like norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin.

3. Immune System:

The high levels of antioxidants in kale provide resistance against the infectious agents, improving the immune system of the body. Vitamin C and Sulforaphane protect the body from the free radical damage. A regular consumption of kale also improves the production of white blood cells in the body, preventing the entry of viruses and bacteria.

4. Bone Strength:

The high concentrations of calcium and vitamin K in kale strengthen the bone and prevent bone loss. Vitamin K is needed to deposit calcium into the bones and keep the calcium out of the tissues, preventing bone calcification. It also acts as a modifier of bone matrix protein and reduces urinary excretion of calcium. The B complex vitamins combine with the homocysteine levels, forestalling the possibility of bone fracture. The omega 3 fatty acids in kale lubricate the joints and keep it supple, promoting joint and cartilage flexibility.

5. Eye Health:

Kale is an excellent source of eye friendly nutrients like carotenoids, zeaxanthin, lutein and vitamin A, which protect the eyes from the ultraviolet rays damage. The high levels of vitamin A in kale leaves prevent macular degeneration and cataract in the elderly. It also promotes the production of rhodopsin, a pigment that stores vitamin in the retina. Zeaxanthin gets absorbed in the retina to provide light filtering function, thereby improving the vision.

6. Anti-Inflammatory Properties:

Kale is alkaline in nature. The high levels of vitamin K improve the blood circulation, thereby reducing chronic inflammation. The anti-inflammatory properties of kale also thwart the free radical reaction in the body.

7. Diabetes:

Kale contains manganese, a nutrient that promotes healthy blood sugar regulation. Studies have found that diabetics who consume a high fiber diet have lower blood sugar levels, improved lipids and insulin levels. Kale also contains alpha-Lipoic acid, an antioxidant that lowers the glucose levels, and prevents oxidative stress in the diabetics. It also decreases peripheral neuropathy and autonomic neuropathy in the diabetics.

8. Weight Loss:

Kale leaves comprise about 80% water and no fat at all. It takes a room in the stomach, keeping you full for a long time. Vitamin C in kale hydrates the body and increases the metabolism, aiding in weight loss. It also stabilizes the blood sugar levels in the body, preventing insulin spikes. A stable blood sugar levels will keep the weight off. Drink a glass of kale, lemon juice and green apple juice to melt the excess fat from the body.

9. Cancer:

Kale is also beneficial in preventing cancerous formation in the body. Kale, like any other green leafy vegetables contains chlorophyll that blocks the carcinogenic effects of the heterocyclic amines. It contains indole 3 carbinol, which helps to boost the DNA and lower the growth of cancer cells. It can prevent various types of cancer like colon, prostate, ovarian, bladder and breast cancer. The organosulfur compounds in kale break into Isothiocyanates in the body, promoting the production of cancer-destroying enzymes. It also inhibits the growth of prostate cancer cells. In addition, kale also boosts the repair of healthy cells and blocks the growth of cancer cells.

10.Heart Health:

As mentioned earlier, kale is an excellent source of fiber, which binds the bile acids, lowering low-density lipoprotein in the blood. It contains compounds that help to lower the risk of coronary heart diseases. Potassium in kale regulates the blood pressure and heart rate by countering the negative effects of sodium. Steamed kale is best for lowering the cholesterol in the body.

11.Mental Health:

Vitamin K in kale limits the neural damage of the brain, preventing Alzheimer and Parkinson’s diseases. It synthesizes sphingolipids, the fats that form the myelin sheath around the nerves, contributing to a healthy nervous system. Omega 3 fatty acids prevent the damage of the brain cells due to high sugar levels. Furthermore, carotenoids in kale guard the brain from oxidative stage, reducing the possibility of cognitive decline in the elderly.

Skin Benefits of Kale:

Making kale a daily part of your diet not just promotes overall well being, but also keeps the skin healthy. It is a rich source of vitamin A, C, K and phytonutrients, which are prerequisite for a healthy and beautiful skin.

12. Vitamin C:

Kale contains high levels of vitamin C, which is very beneficial for the skin’s health. It helps to make collagen, which is needed for the skin strength and elasticity. Low levels of Vitamin C in the body slow the collagen production, which weaken the skin and cause tears.

13. Antioxidant:

The high levels of antioxidant in kale leaves provide a natural protection from the sun, preventing skin damage due to the overexposure to the sun rays. Lutein, beta-carotene and carotenoids improve the skin elasticity and firmness.

14. Copper:

Copper in kale boosts the synthesis of melanin, a pigment that protects the skin from the sun damage. The anti-inflammatory properties of kale also aids in the wound healing process.

15. Vitamin A:

Vitamin A in kale promotes healthy cell growth in the dermis and epidermis of the skin. Low levels of vitamin A can adversely affect the oil and sweat glands of the skin, leading to flaky and dry skin. It also causes the healthy skin to be replaced by the skin cells. Vitamin A repairs the skin tissue underneath the skin, preventing the damage caused due to the free radicals.

16. Ageing:

Vitamin C and antioxidants in kale prevent premature ageing and help you stay younger looking for a longer time. Kale juice efficiently detoxifies the body and flushes out the toxins, giving you a healthy and glowing skin.

Hair Benefits of Kale:

A healthy hair is a mark of good health. Strong and healthy hair depends on the body’s ability to construct proper hair shaft and follicles. A good level of nutrition provides the best environment for building strong and lustrous hair. Kale, as mentioned earlier is a nutritious powerhouse. It contains several essential nutrients required for maintaining proper health of the hair. Some of the benefits of kale for hair include:

17. Hair Growth:

Drinking kale juice daily could prevent hair breakage to a great extent. B complex vitamins in kale help in the creation of red blood cells, which aids in the transportation of oxygen and other nutrients to the scalp follicles. Lack of vitamin B can cause hair shedding and weak hair. Kale also contains biotin, a mineral extremely important for hair health. It aids in the hair growth and promotes overall health of the scalp.

18. Iron:

A deficiency in iron can cause anemia, a health condition that can lead to severe hair fall. Kale contains high levels of iron, which prevents hair fall and promotes hair growth.

19. Vitamin C:

Vitamin C is extremely important for proper health of the hair. It ensures the transportation of oxygen to the hair follicles, promoting hair growth. It is also required to produce collagen, a structural fiber that is required for optimal hair growth. Lack of vitamin C can lead to brittle hair.

20. Zinc:

Kale contains high levels of zinc, a mineral involved in the tissue growth and repair of the scalp. It keeps the oil glands around the hair follicle working properly, preventing hair loss. Low levels of zinc can lead to slow hair growth, dandruff and hair loss.

21. Omega 3 Fatty Acid:

Kale and its juice can also help to fight flakiness of the scalp. The omega 3 fatty acid content in kale conditions the scalp naturally, reducing dandruff and flaky skin.

Selection and Storage:

While purchasing kale, make sure the leaves are dark green in color with small to medium leaves. Avoid purchasing kale that has brown to yellow leaves. Place the leaves in a plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator.

Sometimes, little aphids like spiders and bugs cling to the underside of the kale leaves due to its curly texture. If you find aphids after purchasing the kale leaves, soak them in vinegar and sea salt water for 10 minutes. Then wash the leaves in the running water and wipe them with a cloth.

How to Use:

Young kale leaves taste better while the old ones are bitter and rough in texture. Use frozen kale leaves for cooking, as kale tastes best without thawing. Wash the leaves thoroughly before using. You need to boil old kale leaves for a few minutes to soften the stringent cellulose structure.

There is a plethora of uses of this delicious leafy vegetable. You can use raw kale leaves in sandwiches, wraps and salads. Add a handful of chopped kale to your soup before serving to add texture and wilt to it. Marinate the raw kale leaves in the salad dressing to make the leaves more tender and reduce its bitter flavor. Dress kale salad with tahini, lemon juice and garlic to make a flavorful salad.

Kale chips are one of the most popular preparations of kale leaves. This crispy and salty treat is a much healthier option than potato chips and popcorn.

Safety Profile:

Despite many of its health benefits, kale is not entirely safe for consumption.

  • It contains a small amount of oxalates and should be avoided by people suffering from gallbladder and kidney stones.
  • Higher amounts of vitamin K in kale can interfere with blood thinning and anti-coagulant drugs. Make sure you consult your doctor before increasing its consumption.
  • Excess consumption of kale and kale juice can lead to intestinal discomfort like diarrhea, gastritis and stomach cramps.
  • Some people may also suffer from fatigue, chest pain and muscle weakness. This is called the “healing reaction” of kale juice. The detoxifying properties of kale juice eliminate all the toxins from the body, leading to temporary weakness.

Kale Smoothie Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of fresh kale, washed and chopped
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries, chopped
  • 1 cup of low fat yogurt
  • 1 cup of crushed ice

Method of Preparation:

Combine kale, strawberries and yogurt in a blender and blend on high. Add some water and ice and blend until it acquires a smooth consistency. Enjoy your vitamin and minerals loaded smoothie cold.

These green veggies can become a part of your diet. Enjoy the surplus benefits it offers by including it. If you know any more benefits that have been missed here, feel free to share with us. We would love to see your comments.

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