Kale is a vegetable of the cabbage family and has curly deep green coloured leaves. The dark leafy leaves are packed with phytonutrients, minerals and fibre. The colour of the leaves vary from dark green to purple to violet.
It’s popular for its nutrient richness as well as the fact that it grows in almost all types of soil. Kale is also cheap to buy and affordable to most people.
The nutritional component of Kale
Kale contains over eighty nutrients, which include:
- Minerals such as potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, copper and manganese.
- Folate and fibre
- Vitamins K, A, C, E, B1, B2, B3 and B6.
- Omega three and six fatty acids
Where did kale originate from?
The name Kale originated from the Scottish and Northern English name ‘Cole’, the name the vegetable was referred to.
The vegetable however is thought to have originated from Asia and spread to Europe by Celtic travellers around the period of 600 BC. It was popular in the Roman times and was consumed by poor people in the Middle Ages.
Kale has a short shelf life therefore when buying the vegetable, look for leaves that are crisp and firm to the touch.
Opt for Kale from organic farmers as they have fewer pesticides sprayed on them.
Kale shrinks considerably when cooked so buy much more quantities that you think you may need.
Preparing and cooking kale
Wash the kale just minutes before you need to cook it, rather than wash and store. The water lessens the shelf life of the vegetable.
Before dicing the kale, get rid of the thick stem and then stack the leaves together to form a roll. After which you can slice across the roll, cutting the kale into thin strips.
Kale is commonly cooked by steaming it or boiling in a little water for just about five minutes. Add a pinch of salt to taste and when done, drain completely.
Health benefits of eating Kale
Kale reduces the risk of heart disease
The dark green vegetable contains bile acid sequestrates, which bind bile acids in the digestive system and prevents them from being reabsorbed into the blood. This ensures that cholesterol levels in the blood remain low, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease.
Kale also increases the amount of HDL, which is the good cholesterol, and also increases the amounts of antioxidants in the body.
Kale has a good balance of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids which are necessary for a healthy heart.
Kale contains sulforaphane, a substance that has been proven to proven to fight the formation of cancerous cells.
The antioxidants carotenoids and flavonoids, present also help in fighting various types of cancers.
Kale also contains high amounts of Vitamin K, also known to fight and protect against many types of cancers.
Management of diabetes
Kale contains a lot of fibre. Studies have shown that fibre reduces blood sugar levels which are crucial for diabetes sufferers.
It also contains sulphur necessary for ridding the body of toxic waste and aids in glucose metabolism thus helping to reduce weight and also prevent diabetes.
The nutritional content of kale includes forty five different types of flavonoids, which greatly reduce the risk of getting a stroke.
Kale also contains iron, needed in the formation of haemoglobin, which carries oxygen rich blood to the brain.
In addition, kale contains Omega 3 fatty acids which help with brain memory and performance.
Healthy skin and hair
If you want glowing skin and strong hair, then work at including kale into your diet. The sulphur in kale removes toxins from the skin, leaving it healthy and radiant.
Vitamins C aids with the production of collagen, which is what keeps the skin firm and tight, and also with faster healing of skin injuries.
A deficiency of iron can cause hair loss. To prevent this, eat regular servings of kale because it contains natural iron, which will help to maintain your hair.
In addition to fighting cancer, the Vitamin K present in kale also protect your eyes from visual disorders associated with age. Kale contains more Vitamin K that carrots, which are known for protecting your sight.
Low intake of Vitamin K has been known to cause bone fractures. In addition to that Vitamin K helps in the absorption of calcium into the body, which is needed for prevention of bone loss caused by the passage of time.
Kale is a popular diet food due to its high fibre content and the ability to make you feel for longer periods of time, reducing the urge to snack on unhealthy foods.
It has zero fat content and is packed with beneficial nutrients.
The magnesium in kale helps your body to manage stress and ensure proper digestion of food, all of which contribute to weight gain.
Urinary Tract Infections mostly occur in warm and humid atmosphere or when the body’s immunity is low. Inside the body, the infections thrive in an acidic environment and so the way to prevent them is to balance the urinary tract PH as much as possible.
Kale is an alkaline food and it neutralizes the acid produced in the body thus helping to prevent UTI’s.
In addition to the above, kale is low in oxalates, which is very beneficial to people who are prone to calcium oxalate kidney stones.
Strengthens your immune system
Boosting your immune system is the best way of keeping diseases and infections at bay. Your diet plays a vital role in determining how well your body can fight diseases.
The Vitamins K and C are known to strengthen the immune system thereby helping to fight viruses and bacteria.
Kale is used in many detoxification programs because it rids the liver of impurities and also supplies the organ with the nutrients it needs to do its job well.
A toxic liver affects all the other organs of your body and affects your overall health.