8 Health Benefits (and Cautions) of Kale

| November 12, 2013 | 6 Comments

kale and wood

Discover the newest superfood of the stars, its health benefits AND cautions.

“Every leaf of kale your chew adds another stem to your tree of life.” Ancient Turkish Saying

Kale was once called the ‘poor people food’ but now it’s the new trend. Celebrities like Angelina Jolie, Woody Harrelson, and Gwyneth Paltrow are all eating kale to feel better and keep the ‘sleek physique’ needed for stardom.

It is one of the my top Powerfoods!

Did you know?

  • There are over 50 varieties of kale
  • National Kale Day is celebrated on the first Wednesday of October.
  • Kale plants continue to produce late into winter. It is the perfect green for seasonal eating in fall or winter.
  • Kale needs a frost to become sweeter. The frost converts some of plant’s starch into sugar.
  • In Scotland, an invitation to “come to kale” was an invitation to dinner.
  • An adult hippopotamus at Washington D.C.’s National Zoo eats 10 pounds of kale a day!
kale - queen of green

In this collection of various greens – kale is now considered ‘the queen”

8 Health Benefits of Kale:

1. Can help lower cholesterol levels.
The fiber fiber in kale binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. It’s best when kale is cooked instead of raw.

2. Kale is a detox food.
It’s filled with fiber and sulfur which are great for detoxifying your body and keeping your liver healthy.

3. Low in calories
A cup of chopped kale has only 33 calories. Great for weight loss!

4. Great at fighting many cancers
Kale is rich in organosulfur compounds which are known to figh cancer, especially colon cancer.

kale feeds immune system

Kale feeds your immune system for protection inside and out.

5. Supports a healthy immune system.
Kale is full of sulforaphane which helps which nourishes the immune system.

6. Visual Benefits.
Kale is abundant in two carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, which act like sunglass filters preventing damage to the eyes from excessive exposure to ultraviolet light.

7. Supports normal blood clotting, antioxidant activity, and bone health.
The high amount of Vitamin K helps nourishes those activities in the body healthy.

8. Great for helping digestion and elimination.
It is very high in fiber.

All greens are nutritious, but kale stands way above the rest. Kale has more iron than beef per calorie. Very high in in Vitamin K, full of powerful antioxidants and much more. Read all about it: Kale Nutrition.

growing kale

Kale growing in a field

History:

  • “Kale is the one of the oldest forms of cabbage, originating in the eastern Mediterranean. Kale is thought to have been used as a food crop as early as 2000 B. C.” Laurie Hodges, Ph. D. Extension Specialist
  • Kale originated in Asia Minor and by the 5th century B.C., the preference was for the larger leaf that developed into the vegetable we now know as kale.
  • The plant was brought to Europe around 600 B.C. by groups of Celtic wanderers. Early historic records on the Romans called it Sabelline Cabbage.
  • Kale was a staple crop in the Scottish Islands because of its hardiness; the Scots grew it in kale yards. Almost every house had a kale yard and preserved kale in barrels of salt.
  • English settlers brought kale to the United States in the 17th century.
  • Russian kale was introduced into Canada (and then into the U.S.) by Russian traders in the 19th century.
organic kale

Kale is one of the ‘dirty dozen’ foods that should be purchased organic.

How to Buy and Store Kale:

  • Always buy organic kale; it is grown with lots of chemicals making it one of the Dirty Dozen. The kale should be firm with fresh, with deeply colored leaves and hardy stems.
  • Kale with smaller leaves will be tenderer and have a milder flavor than larger leaves.
  • Put kale in a plastic storage bag removing as much of the air from the bag as possible. Keep in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days. The longer it is stored, the more bitter its flavor becomes. Do not wash kale before storing because the water encourages spoilage.

Cautions:

Too much vitamin K can cause problems for anyone taking anticoagulants such as warfarin because the high level of vitamin K may interfere with the drugs. Consult your doctor before adding kale to your diet if you are on this type of medication.

Kale and Oxalates. Kale contains oxalates that interfere with the absorption of calcium.  There is much controversy about this.

Goitrogenic Food? Contrary to popular belief, latest studies show that kale is not goitrogenic. In fact, most foods that are commonly called goitrogenic (kale, broccoli and cauliflower) as well as soy-based foods do not interfere with thyroid function in healthy persons even when they are consumed on a daily basis. Again this is controversial.

 

homemade organic kale chips

Homemade organic kale chips

Tips for eating or cooking:

  • You can eat kale raw when it is young and tender – almost like lettuce.
  • The kale you eat at the store will probably be mature which means it will probably be too tough and fibrous to digest easy.
  • Blending mature kale will help but the easiest way is to cook it.
  • Kale is so nutritious even cooked kale is loaded with vitamins and minerals.
  • Many people enjoy kale chips. The health results will depend on the quality of kale and oils, plus the preparation methods.
KABOCHA squash and pumpkin

Kabosha squash and pumpkin

Kale Recipes:

Braised Kale Kale and garlic and other good ingredients.

Steamed Winter Vegetables Perfect for fall and winter seasonal eating.

Pear Green Smoothie All ingredients are alkalizing!  A great way to start your day.

KABOCHA SQUASH SOUP One of my favorite soups.  

 

About Diana Herrington

I am the Founder and Author at Real Food For Life. Have been teaching cooking classes worldwide since 1982. Create original, healthy recipes and menus, which are gluten free and white sugar free. Also, the author of the GREEN means LEAN and Balance Your Body e-books. I turned a debilitating health crisis into a passion for helping others with healthy, sugar free, gluten free eating and cooking.

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Category: Nutrition, PowerFoods

Comments (6)

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  1. Bill Lovelock says:

    We are just begining to learn more about the benefits of Kale . WE currently use it in our home made soups .

    Thanks.
    Bill

  2. anniegoose says:

    i highly dispute the part about kale, cabbage, etc NOT being goitrogenic. as someone with thyroid disease, i KNOW for a fact that i cannot eat any of them — no more broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, etc for me. if i do — i get very, very, sick, very, very quickly — like within minutes. and it seriously compromises my thyroid levels.

    but i LOVE kale soup — and kale soup was my downfall — that’s how it was discovered that my thyroid was barely functioning.

    i’m happy for all of those people who CAN eat kale and the other goitrogenic vegetables.

  3. Thank you Annie for your input. I found the information on that fact interesting and wanted to be very open to it. I do have a bit of a Thyroid problem but always seem to get it under control without medication. What I do know is that all those veg except for Kale chips are not something I enjoy anymore and always think it is my body saying no to them because of the thyroid stuff because I used to like them all. That said I do not feel sick if I eat them.

  4. Patricia Rakshit says:

    I don’t have any comment
    Thank you

  5. Soymoon says:

    I’ve been juicing kale and really enjoy it. However, your mentioning it as an immune booster gives me pause. I have been diagnosed with RA and am on immune suppressants. So should I stop juicing kale, or is it not that powerful.
    I asked my doctor and he looked at me weirdly. Fun, huh?

  6. Carolyn Aird says:

    Thank you so much for all you do to get healthy information out to everyone … especially to those of us trying to pass it on to others.

    Carolyn Aird

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