Kale is a green leafy vegetable, which is also known as leaf cabbage, borecole or cow cabbage. It is from the plant species, Brassica oleracea. They usually have green leaves and may sometimes even have purple leaves. They are considered quite close to wild cabbage. A large variety of kale is available in the market which includes: dinosaur kale/black cabbage, curly kale and red Russian kale. The vegetable is easy to cultivate, provides vital nutrients to the diet and has many health benefits.

Health Benefits of Kale

Overview of Kale

Kale is one of the most nutritious and healthiest vegetable available. It is low in calorie and rich in fibre without fat content. It is popularly known as the "the queen of greens", "new beef", and "nutritional powerhouse". Daily intake of kale promotes healthy skin, nails and hair. It also improves digestion and reduces risks of cardio vascular diseases and even cancer. It has an ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) rating of 1770 i.e. the capacity to form anti-oxidants. The younger leaves of kale are often eaten raw in salads. Kale loses its nutritional value post cooking. Cooking leads to loss of vitamin C and polyphenol content and does affect the beta carotene content in it significantly.

Health Benefits of Kale

Health benefit of kale includes:

Weight Loss Benefits of Kale

Having almost zero fat content, kale is helpful for individuals who are trying to lose weight. High calorie and high fibre content helps in maintaining energy level and prolongs the feeling of fullness.

Kale is Beneficial in Improving Digestion

Kale has high content of fibre that assist in digestion and easy bowel movement. They add bulk to bowel and prevent constipation and diarrhea.

Skin, Nails and Hair Health Benefits of Kale

Kale has high content of beta-carotene, which helps in formation of vitamin A. This in turn helps in maintaining good hair, nails and skin. Vitamin C helps is formation of collagen which acts as a building block of hair, skin, nails and bones. It also helps in improving immunity, eye sight and reproductive functioning.

Bone Health Benefits of Kale

Per calorie content of calcium in kale is higher than that in milk. Calcium is a vital nutrient for growth and developed of bone. It prevents development of bone loss, reduces the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures. It also improves metabolism. Vitamin C in kale also helps in improving joint flexibility and maintaining health of the cartilage.

Health Cardiovascular Health Benefits of Kale

Kale is efficient in lowering cholesterol levels and thus helps in reducing the risk of developing cardio vascular disorders.

Benefits of Kale for its Iron Content

Kale has more iron content than beef which is vital for formation of haemoglobin, important enzymes, transport oxygen, cell growth and development and maintaining liver function.

Kale is Beneficial in Building Immunity

Vitamin C assists in strengthening the immune system and helps in improving overall metabolism of the human system.

Health Benefits of Vitamin K in Kale

Vitamin K is essential in maintaining normal bone health and aids in formation of blood clotting factors. It helps is reducing the risk of cancer and development of Alzheimer's disease.

Kale as an Anti-oxidant

Kale is also very rich in anti-oxidants such as carotenoids and flavonoids that help in fighting cancer.

Anti-inflammatory Property of Kale

Kale has 10% of the RDA of omega fatty acids. This helps is fighting against disorders such as arthritisasthma and other auto-immune diseases.

Detoxification: The fibre and sulphur content of kale helps in detoxification and elimination of harmful toxins from the body. It cleanses the system and keeps the liver healthy.

Other health benefits of Kale include lowering blood pressure, lowering blood glucose level, lowering the risk of asthma and improving overall health of the individual.

Risks of Consuming Kale

Individuals on beta blockers, used for cardio vascular diseases, are advised to be cautious about consuming kale. This is because kale is rich in potassium, and when consumed along with beta-blockers it can lead to elevated levels of potassium in the body which have adverse effects on the body. Kale may also interfere with activity of blood thinners. Patients with kidney issues should be careful about having kale. Kale may interfere with digestion in individuals with irritable bowel syndrome. In some cases, it has been seen that it affects the thyroid functioning as well. Hence, it is advised that people with the above mentioned health problems consult with their doctors and then start the consumption of this vegetable.

Nutritional Components of Kale

100 grams of kale provides about 49 calories of energy. One cup of kale provides about 36 calories of energy, 5 gms of fibre and no fat at all. Raw kale is a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, folic acid, manganese, riboflavin, thiamine, pantothenic acid, potassium, calcium and phosphorus. Kale is also a source of phytochemicals such as lutein, carotenoids and zeaxanthin. It contains glucosinolate which helps in formation of sulforaphane. However, boiling kale may lead to loss of these essential nutrients.

ParameterNutritional valueRDA Percentage
Energy 49 Kcal 2.5 %
Carbohydrate 8.75 gms 7 %
Protein 4.28 gms 8 %
Total fat 0.93 gms 3.5 %
Cholesterol 0 mg 0 %
Dietary fibre 3.6 gms 9 %

Vitamins

  
Folates 141 µg 35 %
Niacin 1.000 mg 6 %
Pantothenic acid 0.091 mg 1.5 %
Pyridoxine 0.271 mg 21 %
Riboflavin 0.130 mg 10 %
Thiamine 0.110 mg 9 %
Vitamin C 120 mg 200 %
Vitamin K 704.8 µg 587 %

Electrolyte

  21 %
Sodium 38 mg 2.5 %
Potassium 491 mg 10.5 %
Minerals    
Calcium    
Copper 1.499 mg 166 %
Iron 1.47 mg 18 %
Magnesium 47 mg 12 %
Manganese 0.659 mg 28 %
Phosphorus 92 mg 12 %
Selenium 0.9 µg 1.5 %
Zinc 0.56 mg 5 %

Phyto-Nutrients

   
Carotene- ß    
Crypto-xanthin – ß 81 µg -
Lutein- zeaxanthin 8198 µg -

Conclusion

Kale is a highly nutritious leafy vegetable from the cruciferous vegetable group. Kale is quite easy to grow and economical as well. Kale is considered as one the world's healthiest food. It is a rich source of many vital nutrients including essential vitamins and minerals that help in overall wellbeing of the human system. One cup of kale contains almost no fat in it and thus considered as a super healthy vegetable. Kale helps in reducing the risk of cardiac diseases, diabetes, cancer, digestive issues, neurological issues, hypercholesterolemia, bone issues etc. It assists in weight loss and helps in improving skin, nails and hair. Kale can be included in diet through a number of ways like in salads etc. It can be used same as other green vegetable as well, although it must be kept in mind that while cooking kale loses many of this nutritional content.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: March 20, 2017

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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