If there’s one veggie your diet shouldn’t be without, it’s definitely kale. Recently recognized as a superfood, it had been hard to source in the Philippines in the past, but you can find locally grown varieties in bigger supermarkets due to an increased demand in the past couple of years.
Upon first glance, kale doesn’t look like anything special. The unassuming dark, leafy green resembles its cousins from the cabbage family, which includes other nutritious vegetables such as collards and broccoli.
The clamor for kale began when it was dubbed a superfood, one which can go toe-to-toe with the best of them, including its look-alike, spinach. In fact, some have been so bold as to claim that a cup of kale trumps an entire week’s worth of other foods!
So if you’re looking for reasons to eat more kale look no further. We’re counting down the top ten reasons why there should always be a portion of kale on your plate.
10. It’s versatile
Kale lends itself to many preparations, making it easy to sneak it into favorite dishes. It’s hardy enough to be fried tempura-style or baked into crispy chips, but not so woody that you couldn’t eat it raw in a salad.
You can also add it blended in smoothies and drinks, shredded into soup, or stuffed into poultry or meat. It can be steamed, creamed, stir-fried, or ground into pesto. It’s even been made into pizza dough!
Because its flavor profile is so mild and it lends itself so well to a myriad of dishes, there’s no excuse to not be eating at least a few helpings of kale every week. However, some people who have a heightened sensitivity to bitterness may find it hard to swallow. Don’t worry, there are many ways to remove the bitter taste, without losing any nutritional content.
9. It has more iron than a similar serving of beef
It’s hard to believe, but it’s true! Kale does have more iron per calorie than beef. And this is important, because a lot of us, especially females, need more iron in our diet.
Iron is an important mineral that helps metabolize proteins and plays a role in the production of hemoglobin any myoglobin in red blood cells. Iron is also an important component for cell growth and the proper functioning of your liver.
8. It's a happy veggie
And not in the way that could get you arrested. Psychiatrist and author Dr. Drew Ramsey credited kale with having mood-boosting qualities. He also noted that people who ate it regularly seemed to display a brighter outlook on life.
Dr. Ramsey points out that folates, which are abundant in kale, decrease negative moods. This is especially true of folates that enter the body through food rather than via synthetic supplements.
Harvard University studies also link kale with battling depression because of the presence of antioxidants, omega-3 acids, and carotenoids in the veggie.
7. It's very good for your digestion
A single cup of kale has only 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber and 0 grams of fat. That much fiber makes it a great digestive aid.
6. It can give you cosmetic-commercial-worthy skin
Kale is rich in sulfur, which is a powerful detoxifying agent. This helps your body eliminate toxins from your skin, leaving it clearer. It also helps increase collagen production, which gives your skin a moisturized, fresher look.
A cup of cooked kale contains 885 mcg of a retinol A equivalent, a nutrient strongly linked to anti-aging properties. It’s essential for the growth of all tissues, but especially those in the hair and skin.
To buff up that healthy glow, you have a lot of vitamin C, which builds and maintains your skin’s collagen content.
5. It has more vitamin C than oranges
Speaking of Vitamin C, kale carries more than the citrus fruit whose entire rep is built on it. A cup of kale will give you 113% of your daily recommended allowance of this powerful antioxidant, which boosts your immune system, helps your metabolism along, and helps your body keep hydrated.
4. It’s great for your bones
Part of why kale has been tagged as the “new beef” is its impressive calcium content. Again, per calorie, kale has more calcium than milk. Calcium is needed in the formation of healthy bones, and a continued intake is essential to prevention of naturally occurring bone loss as we age. It also helps prevent osteoporosis.
3. It's good for your heart
Kale is packed with nutrients that support heart health - fiber, potassium, vitamin C and B6. Most notably, it’s potassium that packs the punch here. Higher potassium intakes are linked to as much as a 49% lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease, reduced risk of stroke, and a better chance of preserving both bone mineral density and muscle mass.
2. It's one of the few edible sources of vitamin K
Vitamin K isn’t easy to come by, and as proof, it has been found that nearly everyone is deficient in it. Usually found in dark green vegetables, it works with Vitamin D to assist in your body’s absorption of calcium and facilitate blood clotting. It has also been found to regulate blood sugar levels, prevent arterial calcification, and prevent heart disease.
Kale has both K1 and K2 variants of the vitamin, and so much of them that a single cupful of raw kale contains enough to fill seven days’ worth of your recommended daily intake.
1. It’s a lean, mean, cancer-fighting machine
In the battle against the Big C, kale is a ready suit of armor. It’s a source of a large amount of organosulfur compounds, which are simply organic compounds that contain sulfur. When these are broken down by your body, they create a natural cancer-fighting compound. While they’re at it, they also give your immune system a powerful upgrade.
Furthermore, the chlorophyll in kale inhibits the body’s absorption of carcinogenic heterocyclic amines. Sadly, the latter is produced when we grill animal meat. The chlorophyll in kale binds to these carcinogens and prevents their absorption, thereby limiting the risk of cancer.
Kale is a superfood worthy of the name, and deserves a spot on the plate of any person who wants to eat healthier.