The key to eating healthy as a diabetic is following a balanced diet. The more whole grains, protein, and fresh fruits and vegetables you get, the healthier you will be.
Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, which means it needs to be a part of your diabetic menu. As a versatile, flavorful food, kale can be added easily to any meal and makes the best salads.
Kale is a cruciferous vegetable and a member of the cabbage family. While it has skyrocketed in popularity recently, it has long been known as a healthy food. In fact, it was part of the usual fare for the armies of Napoleon.
Full of vitamins A, C, and K as well as potassium, calcium, magnesium and other essential minerals, kale adds nutrition as well as color to your meal. When you combine the vitamin and mineral content with the low-calorie and low-fat properties of kale, it is easy to see why it is so great for you.
Here are the other important health benefits of eating kale:
With oxidative damage being a leading contributor to many diseases, having antioxidant support is a bonus. Quercetin, along with various flavonoids and polyphenols, makes kale an antioxidant powerhouse.
These compounds not only scavenge the free radicals that cause oxidative damage to your cells and tissues, but they also promote anti-inflammatory activities and work to protect your heart.
There are many great sources of vitamin C, like kale. This vitamin helps with many of the cellular functions within your body and boosts your immune system.
It is especially necessary for the production of collagen, which is the most abundant structural protein in your body. Kale actually contains more vitamin C than oranges, which means it may be an even better go-to when cold and flu season approaches.
The presence of cholesterol produces bile acids, which work in your body to digest fat. Once fats are digested, these bile acids return to the bloodstream to be used again. Bile acid sequestrants can bind to these compounds and prevent them from leaving your digestive system.
This reduction in cholesterol in your body can reduce your risk of heart disease over time. Kale contains plenty of these sequestrants, helping lower cholesterol levels can be lowered and risk for heart disease.
This vitamin is essential for blood clotting, and kale just happens to be one of the most abundant sources of vitamin K. In addition to its blood-clotting role, vitamin K also prevents calcium from depositing in your arteries, thereby protecting you from heart disease.
With diabetics being at increased risk for heart disease, the additional support from vitamin K is appreciated. A single cup of kale contains seven times the recommended daily amount of vitamin K.
Many of the compounds found in kale, such as sulforaphane, are believed to provide anti-cancer properties. In fact, most cruciferous vegetables have been linked to the reduced risk for certain cancers. The compound sulforaphane in kale has been found to fight cancer on a molecular level, preventing cancerous cells from developing.
There are a number of minerals that are essential to your health, but many people are deficient in these. The good news is that kale is full of most of these minerals, so you can get what you need from one convenient source.
Calcium: Important for bone health and efficient cellular function, calcium is required for effective communication between your brain and other parts of your body.
Potassium: This maintains critical electrical gradients within your cells. Adequate levels of potassium are linked to lower blood pressure and a lowered risk of heart disease, which is beneficial for diabetics who are at higher risk for cardiovascular complications.
Magnesium: A mineral many forget about. By preventing the buildup of fatty deposits in your arteries (atherosclerosis), magnesium works to protect you from heart disease as well as type-2 diabetes. It also supports optimal muscle health.
Kale is full of lutein, which is a nutrient that helps to protect your eyes. Oxidative damage is linked to declining eye health and the development of cataracts as well as macular degeneration.
Lutein acts as an antioxidant that helps to combat the free radicals and protect your eye health.
A balanced diet will certainly help you lose weight, and kale contains certain compounds that contribute to the weight loss process. Foods like kale have low energy density because they have a low calorie and high water content.
This means they fill you up without leaving a bulky feeling or cravings for unhealthy snacks. Kale also contains protein and fiber, both of which are necessary for supporting healthy weight loss.
3 cup baby kale and greens mix
1 hard-boiled egg, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup halved grape tomatoes
1/2 cup sliced cucumber
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1.5 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 teaspoon capers
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch of salt
1 slice reduced-fat Swiss cheese, cut into small pieces
The best part about salads is how easy they are to make. Simply throw all the ingredients into a large bowl and toss until everything is evenly coated. Serve alongside baked chicken or salmon and you can even add a slice of toasted whole-grain bread. Of course, this kale salad is great on its own and perfect for lunches or a pick-me-up snack.
The Bottom Line
Incorporating kale into your diet not only supports a diabetes-friendly plan but will significantly boost your overall health. With one simple addition, you get an abundance of nutrition, disease-fighting compounds, versatility, and blood sugar support.
Eat more kale and become the powerhouse you should be.