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Kale and its Health Benefits

Updated on September 18, 2013

Kale has amazing health benefits which includes anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidation properties, cancer preventive properties, and detox abilities. It also provide cardio-vascular support by lowering cholesterol.

Kale is simply among the most nutritious food there is. And it is easy to cook. After removing the stem and cut, kale can be sauté with garlic and olive oil.

On a ANDI scale from 1 to 1000, kale has a score of 1000. ANDI stands for "Aggregate Nutrient Density Index" that is indicative of the nutritional density of a food. Whole Food Market uses the ANDI score label on some of its products.

Kale is classified as both a cruciferous vegetable and dark leafy green vegetables. That means that it gets the best of both worlds. Cruciferous vegetable contains anticancer properties. And dark leafy green vegetables contain magnesium, calcium, and antioxidants.

Kale is also rich in vitamin K, vitamin A and vitamin C.

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One cooked cup of kale has ...

  • 1062 mcg of vitamin K, or equivalent to 1328% of the DV (daily value)
  • 9620 IU of vitamin A (192% DV)
  • 53 mg of vitamin C (89% DV)

It has the relaxation mineral magnesium (read about it here). It has B6 and folate that plays important role in the bodies methylation process. (Folic acid is the synthetic form of natural folate that is found in foods.)

It is good for the eyes because kale has lutein and zeaxanthin.

It also has good amounts of manganese, copper, calcium, potassium and quite a few others. A full list can be found here.

Kale's anti-inflammatory properties

Did you notice how much vitamin K kale has? The vitamin K in kale is off-the charts (figuratively speaking). 1328% of the DV on vitamin K means that kale has 13 times the daily value of vitamin K. But no worries about over-dose here. Not heard of anyone overdosing on kale before.

Just remember K in kale for vitamin K. Vitamin K plays a role in blood clotting.  Tufts researchers showed that high dietary intakes of vitamin K is associated with decreased levels of 14 biomarkers of inflammation.

Kale's Antioxidant properties

Carotenoids and flavonoids are antioxidants. And kale has both of these. In the carotenoids category, kale has lutein and beta-carotene. In the flavoniods, kale has kaempferol and quercitin.

Although broccoli is almost in the same family as kale, kale out-beat it in terms of having 10 times as much beta-carotene as broccoli.

From page 169 of Eating on the Wild Side ...

"In test-tube studies, extracts of kale have blocked the proliferation of six different kinds of human cancer cells. Kale is also high in antioxidant value ... One serving of kale has more calcium than six ounces of milk and more fiber than three slices of whole-wheat bread."

Kale's Cancer Preventive Properties

Besides being an anti-oxidant, kaempferol and quercetin also may have cancer preventive properties.

Straight from the UCLA newsroom, article says ...

"Researchers found that study participants who ate foods containing certain flavonoids seemed to be protected from developing lung cancer. Zhang said the flavonoids that appeared to be the most protective included catechin, found in strawberries and green and black teas; kaempferol, found in Brussels sprouts and apples; and quercetin, found in beans, onions and apples."

One pound of kale contains more than 100 mg of kaempferol.  Kaempferol is associated with decrease in the risk of pancreatic cancer.  The book The Men's Health Big Book of Food and Nutrition says that kaempferol may be able to stop pancreatic cancer cells from growing.

Kale for Detox

Kale is a cruciferous vegetable. Cruciferous vegetables is among the top 10 detox foods.

Dr. Hyman mentions that kale can help the body detox mercury. [ref: The UltraMind Solution: page 228]

Kale Among the most nutritious food

In a PBS special, Dr. Fuhrman used the acronym GOMBS to remind us of healthy foods to eat. GOMBS stands for greens, onions, mushrooms, beans/berries, and seeds. Greens refers to green vegetables. Of course kale belongs in that category.

In the book Eat To Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, he developed the nutrient density line where he scores the nutrient density of food on a 0 to 100 point scale. 100 being the most healthy. The types of food that score in the 100 point range are the raw leafy green vegetables which includes lettuce, kale, collards, spinach, etc. [page 120]

The ANDI score, which had once been adopted by Whole Foods Market, is based on Dr. Fuhrman's nutrient density of food. It stands for "aggregate nutrient density index" with high numbers being good. You can see some of the scores here. Note that kale scored an 1000 (the highest score on the scale).

That means that kale is among the highest in nutritional density. In fact, Jeanne Wallace says that kale is the plant food that contains the most nutrition per calorie [reference Hawthorn University's YouTube video].

Kale was listed number on as 7 of the Healthiest Foods You Should Be Eating But Aren't by The title of that article doesn't apply to me, because I've been eating kale regular for some time now.

But whenever possible try to get organic kale to avoid any pesticides. Kale is often listed as among the top 12 foods one most should get as organic.

Miscellaneous Tidbits About Kale

  • There are different types of kale, there are even some lavender-colored flowering kale.
  • In her book, "Seriously, I'm Kidding", Ellen DeGeneres says that kale is the secret of life. Perhaps she was only partially serious and partially kidding.


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