Kale is a popular vegetable and a member of the cabbage family.
It is a cruciferous vegetable like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens and Brussels sprouts.
There are many different types of kale. The leaves can be green or purple, and have either a smooth or curly shape.
The most common type of kale is called curly kale or Scots kale, which has green and curly leaves and a hard, fibrous stem.
A single cup of raw kale (about 67 grams or 2.4 ounces) contains (1):
- Vitamin A: 206% of the DV (from beta-carotene)
- Vitamin K: 684% of the DV
- Vitamin C: 134% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 9% of the DV
- Manganese: 26% of the DV
- Calcium: 9% of the DV
- Copper: 10% of the DV
- Potassium: 9% of the DV
- Magnesium: 6% of the DV
- It also contains 3% or more of the DV for vitamin B1 (thiamin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), iron and phosphorus
This is coming with a total of 33 calories, 6 grams of carbs (2 of which are fiber) and 3 grams of protein.
Kale contains very little fat, but a large portion of the fat in it is an omega-3 fatty acid called alpha linolenic-acid.
Given its incredibly low calorie content, kale is among the most nutrient-dense foods in existence. Eating more kale is a great way to dramatically increase the total nutrient content of your diet.
SUMMARYKale is very high in nutrients and very low in calories, making it one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet.
- Kale Is Loaded With Powerful Antioxidants Like Quercetin and Kaempferol
Kale, like other leafy greens, is very high in antioxidants.
These include beta-carotene and vitamin C, as well as various flavonoids and polyphenols (2Trusted Source).
Antioxidants are substances that help counteract oxidative damage by free radicals in the body (3Trusted Source).
Oxidative damage is believed to be among the leading drivers of aging and many diseases, including cancer (4).
But many substances that happen to be antioxidants also have other important functions.
This includes the flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol, which are found in relatively large amounts in kale (5Trusted Source).
These substances have been studied thoroughly in test tubes and animals.
They have powerful heart-protective, blood pressure-lowering, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-depressant and anti-cancer effects, to name a few (6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).
SUMMARYMany powerful antioxidants are found in kale, including quercetin and kaempferol, which have numerous beneficial effects on health.
- It Is an Excellent Source of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an important water-soluble antioxidant that serves many vital functions in the body’s cells.
For example, it is necessary for the synthesis of collagen, the most abundant structural protein in the body.
Kale is much higher in vitamin C than most other vegetables, containing about 4.5 times much as spinach (9).
The truth is, kale is actually one of the world’s best sources of vitamin C. A cup of raw kale contains even more vitamin C than a whole orange (10).
SUMMARYKale is extremely high in vitamin C, an antioxidant that has many important roles in the body. A single cup of raw kale actually contains more vitamin C than an orange.
- Kale Can Help Lower Cholesterol, Which May Reduce The Risk of Heart Disease
Cholesterol has many important functions in the body.
For instance, it is used to make bile acids, which is are substances that help the body digest fats.
The liver turns cholesterol into bile acids, which are then released into the digestive system whenever you eat a fatty meal.
When all the fat has been absorbed and the bile acids have served their purpose, they are reabsorbed into the bloodstream and used again.
Substances called bile acid sequestrants can bind bile acids in the digestive system and prevent them from being reabsorbed. This reduces the total amount of cholesterol in the body.
Kale actually contains bile acid sequestrants, which can lower cholesterol levels. This might lead to a reduced risk of heart disease over time (11).
One study found that drinking kale juice every day for 12 weeks increased HDL (the “good”) cholesterol by 27% and lowered LDL levels by 10%, while also improving antioxidant status (12).
According to one study, steaming kale dramatically increases the bile acid binding effect. Steamed kale is actually 43% as potent as cholestyramine, a cholesterol-lowering drug that functions in a similar way (13).
SUMMARYKale contains substances that bind bile acids and lower cholesterol levels in the body. Steamed kale is particularly effective.
- Kale Is One of The World’s Best Sources of Vitamin K
Vitamin K is an important nutrient.
It is absolutely critical for blood clotting, and does this by “activating” certain proteins and giving them the ability to bind calcium.
The well-known anticoagulant drug Warfarin actually works by blocking the function of this vitamin.
Kale is one of the world’s best sources of vitamin K, with a single raw cup containing almost 7 times the recommended daily amount.
SUMMARYVitamin K is an important nutrient that is involved in blood clotting. A single cup of kale contains 7 times the RDA for vitamin K.
- There Are Numerous Cancer-Fighting Substances in Kale
Cancer is a terrible disease characterized by the uncontrolled growth of cells.
Kale is actually loaded with compounds that are believed to have protective effects against cancer.
It also contains a indole-3-carbinol, another substance that is believed to help prevent cancer (19Trusted Source).
SUMMARYKale contains substances that have been shown to help fight cancer in test-tube and animal studies, but the human evidence is mixed.
- Kale Is Very High in Beta-Carotene
Kale is often claimed to be high in vitamin A, but this is not entirely accurate.
It is actually high in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that the body can turn into vitamin A (22Trusted Source).
For this reason, kale can be an effective way to increase your body’s levels of this very important vitamin (23Trusted Source).
SUMMARYKale is very high in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that the body can turn into vitamin A.
- Kale Is a Good Source of Minerals That Most People Don’t Get Enough Of
Kale is high in minerals, some of which many people are deficient in.
It is a good plant-based source of calcium, a nutrient that is very important for bone health and plays a role in all sorts of cellular functions.
It is also a decent source of magnesium, an incredibly important mineral that most people don’t get enough of. Eating plenty of magnesium may be protective against type 2 diabetes and heart disease (24).
Kale also contains quite a bit of potassium, a mineral that helps maintain electrical gradients in the body’s cells. Adequate potassium intake has been linked to reduced blood pressure and a lower risk of heart disease (25Trusted Source).
SUMMARYMany important minerals are found in kale, some of which are generally lacking in the modern diet. These include calcium, potassium and magnesium.
- Kale Is High in Lutein and Zeaxanthin, Powerful Nutrients That Protect the Eyes
One of the most common consequences of aging is that eyesight gets worse.
Fortunately, there are several nutrients in the diet that can help prevent this from happening.
Two of the main ones are lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoid antioxidants that are found in large amounts in kale and some other foods.
Many studies have shown that people who eat enough lutein and zeaxanthin have a much lower risk of macular degeneration and cataracts, two very common eye disorders (27Trusted Source, 28Trusted Source).
SUMMARYKale is high in lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients that have been linked to a drastically reduced risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.
- Kale Should Be Able to Help You Lose Weight
Kale has several properties that make it a weight loss friendly food.
It is very low in calories but still provides significant bulk that should help you feel full.
Because of the low calorie and high water content, kale has a low energy density. Eating plenty of foods with a low energy density has been shown to aid weight loss in numerous studies (29Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source).
Kale also contains small amounts of protein and fiber. These are two of the most important nutrients when it comes to losing weight.
Although there is no study directly testing the effects of kale on weight loss, it makes sense that it could be a useful addition to a weight loss diet.
SUMMARYAs a nutrient-dense, low-calorie food, kale makes an excellent addition to a weight loss diet.
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