What Are the Health Benefits of Kale?

Reviewed on 7/1/2021

Kale is good for health because it packs nutrition in every bite. Health benefits of kale include a stronger immune system, improved satiety, weight loss, cancer protection and stronger bones and nervous system.
Kale is good for health because it packs nutrition in every bite. Health benefits of kale include a stronger immune system, improved satiety, weight loss, cancer protection and stronger bones and nervous system.

Kale is good for health because it packs nutrition in every bite. A cup of kale provides 14 percent of the daily calcium requirement and contains vitamins A and K. A serving of raw kale has 33 calories. It has six grams of carbohydrates, three grams of protein and two grams of fiber per serving. Kale is nutrient dense as evidenced by the  vibrant green color.

Common health benefits of eating kale

  • Kale supports a strong immune system. Kale contains vitamin C, which is a  strong antioxidant. It helps keep the cells healthy so that they perform their vital functions. This vitamin also promotes collagen synthesis. Collagen is a structural protein in the body that helps fight against aging.
  • Kale contains important nutrients, such as zeaxanthin and lutein, which help protect the eyes. These reduce the macular damage in the eye that is associated with aging and too much screen time. The macula is the part of the retina that is responsible for visual sharpness. The carotenoid antioxidants in kale lower the risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration.
  • Munching on baked kale chips or kale salad is a much better option if trying to lose or maintain weight. It is a weight loss or weight management friendly vegetable because of its low calorie content. Kale is packed with water and fiber, so it keeps us satiated for longer.
  • According to studies, kale contains compounds designed to protect the body against cancer. One compound is sulforaphane, a material that helps fight cancer formation at the molecular level. There are also other substances in kale that can potentially fight cancer, such as indole-3 carbinol.
  • The nutritional profile of kale is rich in vitamin A. Beta-carotene is present abundantly in kale. This is an antioxidant that turns into vitamin A. Therefore, with a good amount of beta-carotene in the body, more levels of vitamin A are stored, which is important to keep the skin healthy.
  • The fiber content of kale helps improve satiety, cuts down on binge eating and lowers blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels.
  • The magnesium present in kale is beneficial for the cells, the nerves and the bones.

However, most people avoid kale due to its bitterness. A few ways to get the bitterness out of kale are

  • Massage the kale by rubbing it using your hands until it looks darker and a little wilted. This quick process helps release bitterness. Kale can be massaged with salad dressing for more than 10 minutes. Also, massaged kale salads can be kept overnight in the refrigerator to be eaten later.
  • Kale leaves can also be massaged with a little olive oil. Add salt and a squeeze of lemon. It really makes a big difference in taste after the bitterness is gone.
  • Adding some spicy or sweet flavors may help to tame the strong flavor of bitter kale. For example, tossing in some dried fruit helps to balance the bitter with some sweet. One could try adding in some sausage or bacon with kale or adding kale to a soup or stew to decrease the bitterness. Minced garlic, olive oil and salt are also simple ingredients that can transform the flavor of a bitter kale dish.
  • Cut the stem away and marinate it with olive oil and salt. Let it marinate in the fridge for at least 24 hours for better tenderness and less bitterness.
  • Boiled kale is quite delicious if you add some seasoning to it, such as salt, pepper and some flavorful common medicinal herbs (such as parsley, oregano or garlic).

Kale is a bitter green vegetable. However, using these methods will help limit its bitter taste.

Kale has exceptionally good health benefits due to its low calories and good nutrient profile. Kale is indeed the world’s most nutrient dense and super healthy food. There is barely any fat in kale. The only type of fat in kale is omega-3 fatty acid. Because kale is packed with nutrients, low in fat and calories and high in protein and fiber, it is nutrient dense and a genuine superfood in every sense. However, it is important to consider that the amount of kale consumed may impact health. The impact of kale on health depends on the medical conditions of people and how their digestive systems tolerate this cruciferous vegetable. Eat in moderation and include it into the diet two or three times per week depending on the overall health condition.

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References
The Nutrition Source: "Kale." https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/kale/

Lancer Wellness: "5 Health Benefits of Kale." https://calbaptist.edu/files/9113/8732/1223/Wellness_Newsletter-November_2013.pdf

Chemosensory Perception: "Masking Vegetable Bitterness to Improve Palatability Depends on Vegetable Type and Taste Phenotype." https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3652488/

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