There are super greens, and then there are mega greens. Kale is the king of greens and one of the healthiest foods on the planet. Loaded with both beneficial compounds and medicinal healing properties, kale is the ultimate health resource.
Even better than the health benefits, is that kale can be easily added to your diet through salads, smoothies, and even some snack-worthy chips.
Kale contains a number of beneficial nutrients that are proven to boost health.
♦ Iron: Kale contains more iron than red meat. Iron is essential for the formation of enzymes and transferring oxygen around the body. Iron also helps the liver efficiently process toxins out of the body. Anemia is a condition defined by low iron in the blood, and this negatively affects eye health. Anemia can cause bleeding in the eye, and iron is the best way to prevent this.
♦ Vitamin K: This is an essential vitamin for blood clotting, and kale is one of the best sources of vitamin K. This vitamin also plays an essential role in bone health by improving bone density. Vitamin K in the diet has also been linked to a reduced risk of cancer.
♦ Vitamin C: This essential water-soluble antioxidant is important for immunity and the production of collagen. By strengthening the immune system, kale helps your body fight common infections like cold and flu. The antioxidant properties of vitamin C also reduce the risk of cataracts. Kale has more vitamin C than most other vegetables.
♦ Beta-carotene: Many think that kale is high in vitamin A, but this is not accurate. It is high in beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A. Vitamin A is an important antioxidant used to protect vision and support the immune system.
The plant compounds found in kale are responsible for its protective qualities. Kale protects you from chronic diseases by reducing significant factors that contribute to their development.
♦ Oxidative damage: Kale contains several antioxidant compounds, including quercetin and kaempferol. Antioxidants protect tissues and cells from the oxidative damage caused by free radicals. This damage is one of the leading causes of chronic diseases, including cancer. Fighting oxidative damage is especially beneficial for eye health. The eye has the highest metabolic rate in the body, which causes constant exposure to free radicals. By preventing oxidative damage, compounds in kale are ideal for protecting your vision.
♦ Inflammation: Like oxidative damage, inflammation is linked to the most serious diseases in the world. Controlled inflammation from the immune system is a necessary element of protection, but at chronic levels, it damages organs. Kale contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory compounds that inhibit pro-inflammatory chemicals from protecting the body.
The combined nutrient value, antioxidant protection, and anti-inflammatory properties allow kale to boost your overall health in many ways.
♦ Eye health: The beta-carotene in kale that is converted to vitamin A is beneficial to eye health. Kale also contains powerful antioxidants, lutein, and zeaxanthin. These compounds have been shown to reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts, two of the most common eye diseases.
♦ Digestion: Kale supports digestion in two ways. It is full of fiber, which promotes regular and healthy digestion. Irregular bowel movements are one of the top causes of poor digestion. The stems of kale also contain probiotics, which increase the number of beneficial flora in your gut. A healthy gut microbiome prevents common digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome.
♦ Heart health: Cholesterol is used to make bile, which is essential for digestion, but your body makes the amount of cholesterol that you need. This means any cholesterol you get from food is extra, and too much can be dangerous. High levels of LDL cholesterol can cause deposits to form in arteries. This obstructs circulation and causes hardening of arteries, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Kale contains bile acid sequestrants, which lower cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of heart disease. Additionally, kale increases good (HDL) cholesterol levels and helps to expel LDL cholesterol.
♦ Cancer prevention: Kale is loaded with compounds that have shown protective effects against cancer. Sulforaphane has the ability to inhibit cancer growth at a molecular level. By activating enzymes that trigger processes to kill cancer cells, cell growth and development can be prevented. Kale also contains indole-3-carbinol, which is a substance shown to possess cancer prevention effects.
♦ Weight loss: Obesity increases the risk of chronic disease. Excess fat triggers widespread inflammation, and the additional weight places strain on bones, joints, and muscles. Losing weight promotes health and prevents disease, and kale is the perfect weight loss friendly food. Kale contains plenty of fiber and protein, both of which keep you feeling full both and are essential to weight loss success. The high water content in kale also increases urination, which pushes out excess water weight.
approx. 1/2 bunch kale leaves
1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or melted coconut oil
1.5 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt or pink Himalayan sea salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
Preheat oven to 300F.
Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove leaves from the stems of the kale and roughly tear it up into large pieces. Compost the stems (or freeze for smoothies). Wash and spin the leaves until thoroughly dry.
Add kale leaves into a large bowl. Massage in the oil until all the nooks and crannies are coated in oil. Now sprinkle on the spices/seasonings and toss to combine. Spread out the kale onto the prepared baking sheet into a single layer, being sure not to overcrowd the kale.
Bake for 10 minutes, rotate the pan and bake for another 12-15 minutes more until the kale begins to firm up. The kale will look shrunken, but this is normal. Cool the kale on the sheet for 3 minutes before digging in!
Enjoy immediately, as they lose their crispness with time.
If spinach made Popeye stronger, imagine what kale would have done. Kale is loaded with nutrients and disease-fighting compounds that promote ultimate health. When you take a closer look at kale, it is not hard to see why it is the king of the greens. To get the ultimate boost in nutrients, load up on kale, and leave poor health behind.