Kale has become increasingly popular in the last few years, finding its way into salads, soups, and smoothies all over the country. It has been touted as the next new superfood and science backs that claim up and offers research behind the kale trend. Here are some of the benefits that you will receive from eating three servings of kale a week.
Kale is a dietary superfood due to its low amount of calories and carbohydrates and high amount of protein when compared to other vegetables. It also has a special cholesterol-lowering fiber that helps your body to stay healthy, binding its fiber to bile acid while removing fat and cholesterol out of your body. Research has shown that type one diabetics who eat diets high in fiber tend to have lower blood glucose levels while type two diabetics may see an improvement in their blood sugar, lipids and insulin levels. By consuming kale daily, those with diabetes are able to balance their blood sugar because its fiber helps to slow the rise of blood sugar while its proteins help anchor blood sugar.
Kale has high levels of fiber, vitamin C, B6, and potassium, all of which have been researched and found to support overall heart health.
- Potassium: Potassium is needed for every heartbeat that you have, as it is the catalyst that encourages your heart to squeeze and pump blood through your body. It also plays in the rest of your body by helping your muscles to move, your kidneys to filter your blood, and your nerves to work.
- Vitamin C: Doctor James Enstrom from the University of California conducted ten years of research into vitamin intake and found that those who consumed 300mg of vitamin C a day were at a 50% reduced chance for heart disease. His team also found that vitamin C could reverse plaque buildup in the arteries when, showing a clear link between vitamin C and vascular health.
- Vitamin B6: Research suggests that insufficient levels of vitamin B6 play a role in the increasing risk of cardiovascular disease. This research was backed up in 2010 by Japanese researchers who found that B6 might reduce the risk of heart failure in men and stroke and heart disease in women. They hypothesis that B6 may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering your body’s levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that is believed to cause artery damage and promote blood clots.
- Fiber: Soluble fiber may help to reduce both LDL (bad cholesterol) and overall cholesterol by binding with cholesterol in your digestive system and excreting them before they are absorbed by the liver. Research shows that high fiber diets may reduce your risk of a stroke by up to thirty six percent and may lower you blood pressure and pulse pressure. It also makes you feel full for longer, which will help to keep you weight down and keep your heart free from the pressures related to obesity.
Cancer Fighting Properties
Many green vegetables, kale included, have high levels of chlorophyll that have been shown to be effective at reducing the effects of carcinogens. Certain compounds within kale are broken down into anti-cancer agents called isothiocyanates, which destroy cancer causing free radicals. Research has also found that the sulforaphane in kale helps to clear carcinogenic substances from the body more quickly and aids the liver in detoxification, in addition to boosting your immune system.
Sulforaphane has also been shown to be more directly effective on more dangerous cancers such as colon cancer. A recent study showed that that those who were fed foods with sulforaphane, of which kale is high in, experienced higher levels of cancer cell suicide as well as having tumors that grew more slowly than those who did not receive the sulforaphane. These studies are promising, but have not yet been tested on humans.
While many of us think of milk when we want to build our bones, kale actually holds more calcium than milk does. In fact, more researchers are suggesting that you look to vegetables for your calcium needs over milk, and have found that those who eat the most fruits and vegetables have denser bones. Kale is not only rich in calcium but also in potassium and magnesium, which are both crucial for bone health.
Healthy Skin and Hair
Kale is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which help your body to develop strong and healthy hair and nails, while giving your skin a boost in nutrients. B6, which kale has tons of, is involved in the creation of new red blood cells, which carry oxygen and nutrients to every part of our bodies. Without enough B6 in our system, certain non-essential cells will begin to starve causing slow growth, shedding, and weak hair that will break more frequently,.
Kale also is high in vitamin K, which is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent that reduces the puffiness of your skin. With improved circulation and the sulfur content of kale, your skin is able to have reduced redness and flakiness for glowing and health skin.
Kale has high levels of dietary fiber, which is good for your health but can be very difficult to digest when you first start increasing your level of fiber. Its high insoluble fiber content does not break down in your system, which increases the rate with which waste is removed from your body. If you are upping your intake of fiber using kale, try steaming it gently in the first month to increases your chances of avoiding discomfort during bowel movements.
While the health benefits of kale are vast, it is important to remember that foods such as kale have negative effects on those with IBS, a weak digestive system, or thyroid issues due to the type of carbohydrates in kale. Otherwise, take the time to find a way to include this leafy green into your diet to ensure that you are receiving all the vitamins and minerals that your body needs to be healthy. There are many different types of kale to try and many of its benefits stay intact with steaming and sautéing, so find the best recipe for you.