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Kale: Everything you need to know about it

Kale was once relegated to a decorative trimming on buffet platters. It lines the platter only to be thrown away. It has since begun to emerge as something of a superfood. Kale is extremely versatile. It can be eaten raw in salads and other raw preparations, and it is delicious cooked on its own or added to soups and stews. Most significant, though, are the surprising and many kale benefits to your health and wellness.

Like all leafy greens, kale has many health benefits. As a source of iron and other minerals, it is among the best. Kale benefits go well beyond vitamins and minerals since it contains a wealth of compounds that are great for your health. 

Perhaps the most immediate kale benefits are its great taste and versatility. Because kale is such a resilient leafy green, it can be added to your diet in a variety of ways. Kale has gained massive popularity among both professional and home chefs. Whether raw in cold preparations or worked into more complex dishes, kale has proven its worth as a delicious and healthy part of our diet. 

What is kale? What are the kale benefits? Are there different types of kale? This guide will get you on your way to getting all the kale benefits and including kale as a regular part of your diet.  

What is Kale?

Kale

Kale was once referred to as leaf cabbage. It is a part of the same group of leafy greens that includes cabbage. Kale originated in Asia where it was cultivated for food, but it has also been cultivated as a decorative plant. 

Russian kale was introduced to the Americas through Canada since it has always been an extremely resilient plant that can be cultivated in cold climates. From here it spread across the American continent and is now a major crop in the United States. 

The function of Kale in your body

Kale contains fiber, antioxidants, calcium, vitamins C and K, iron, and a variety of other important nutrients. All of these nutrients prevent serious health problems and maintain good health and wellness. 

Kale is also one of the best dietary sources of antioxidants. These compounds protect against a vast array of serious health problems by protecting your body from the damage caused by the presence of free radicals. Free radicals cause oxidative stress on cells and other parts of the body which leads to chronic health problems like cancer and diabetes. By consuming kale, you can protect your body from the damage caused by free radicals. 

Types of Kale

We tend to imagine that there is just one type of kale. In fact, there are many varieties of kale. Like most plants, kale has been cultivated to serve a variety of purposes and to cater to many tastes. Some of the most prominent types of kale include:

Common curly kale

This is the kale you are most likely to find in a grocery store. Common curly kale is a deep green with large, curly edges and long stems. It is usually bound in a bunch in the produce department. You can eat common curly kale raw in salads or juiced in a juicer. You can cook curly kale simply by steaming it. Since it is a tough green, common curly kale will hold up well in a saute. Common curly kale is also a great ingredient in soups and stews.  

Lacinato kale (Also called Dinosaur kale, Tuscan kale, and Cavolo Nero)

This is a variety of Italian kale. Lacinato kale is a blue-green color with longer and more slender leaves. It lacks the curls and frills of the common kale we usually see. Lacinato kale is commonly used in soups and stews, but it works well in salads also. As a side note, Lacinato kale was cultivated in the United States by Thomas Jefferson. 

Ornamental kale (Also called Salad Savoy)

This variety of kale is much curlier and more frilly than common curly kale. The leaves are green, magenta, and purple. It opens in the form of a rosette. Ornamental kale is edible, but it is more commonly cultivated as an ornamental plant. It is also used as a garnish. 

Red Russian (Also called Ragged Jack)

This is an heirloom variety of kale. The leaves are blue-green and tend toward purple and red. Red Russian kale is rutabaga cultivated for its leaves rather than its root. Red Russian kale is sweeter in flavor and is more delicate than other varieties of kale. 

Chinese kale (Also called Chinese broccoli, Kailaan, or Gai Lan)

Chinese kale can be used as a substitute for broccoli. It is extremely high in calcium and vitamins A and C. Chinese kale is great in stir fry dishes. It can be steamed or boiled, although these cooking methods reduce the nutritional content. 

Siberian Kale

For obvious reasons, Siberian kale is one of the hardiest varieties of kale and will hold up to the most extreme cold. The leaves of Siberian kale are ray-green and slightly curly. Siberian kale needs to be cooked since it is so tough raw. It is great steamed and sauteed. 

Redbor kale

This hybrid breed of kale is distinctive because of its size. Redbor kale can reach three feet in height. Its leaves are curled and reddish with deep purple colors. Redbor kale is cultivated for ornamental purposes, but it is edible. 

Kale Health Benefits

The rise in the popularity of kale is mostly due to a growing awareness of the many health benefits of kale. People have simply gotten onto the fact that kale has a wide range of health benefits. Some of the principal health benefits of kale include:

Nutrient-dense food

Curly kale is the most common variety of kale consumed by Americans. A single cup (67 grams or 2.4 ounces) of raw curly contains the following nutrients: 

  • Vitamin A: 206% of the DV (from beta-carotene)
  • Vitamin K: 684% of the DV
  • Vitamin C: 134% of the DV
  • Vitamin B6: 9% of the DV
  • Manganese: 26% of the DV
  • Calcium: 9% of the DV
  • Copper: 10% of the DV
  • Potassium: 9% of the DV
  • Magnesium: 6% of the DV
  • It also contains 3% or more of the DV for vitamin B1 (thiamin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), iron, and phosphorus

This same quantity of curly kale only contains 33 calories, 6 grams of carbs, and 3 grams of protein. Kale contains almost no fat, but it does have a dense concentration of an omega-3 fatty acid that is great for heart health. With negligible calories and fat but high concentrations of nutrients, kale is an extremely positive addition to your diet. 

Extremely high in antioxidants

Kale contains high levels of multiple antioxidants. In addition to beta-carotene, vitamin C, flavonoids, and polyphenols which are all powerful antioxidants on their own, kale also contains two compounds called quercetin and kaempferol. 

Research has shown that quercetin and kaempferol are extremely effective antioxidants that can protect against heart disease, can lower blood pressure, fight cancer, and even combat depression.  

Great source of vitamin C

We tend to associate vitamin C with citrus fruits, and many of us get our vitamin C from a healthy glass of orange juice. But you may be surprised to learn that kale is one of the best sources of vitamin C of all fruits and vegetables. 

One cup of raw kale contains more vitamin C than an entire orange. Kale is 4.5 times higher in vitamin C than spinach. Citrus fruits remain a great way to get your vitamin C, but you may consider adding some kale to your salad or dinner for an extra boost of vitamin C. 

Can help lower cholesterol and protect against heart disease

Cholesterol is important for many physiological functions. We require a certain amount of cholesterol and specific kinds of cholesterol to maintain our health. But when he has too much of the wrong kind of cholesterol, we run the risk of developing heart disease.

Kale can help lower cholesterol levels associated with heart disease. Kale releases what is called natural bile sequestrants. These compounds block the reabsorption of bile acids that cause the increase in unhealthy levels of cholesterol.  

One study showed that drinking juices that contain kale juice lowered cholesterol levels by as much as 27 percent over 12 weeks. This effect simultaneously produced an increase in healthy antioxidants which also protect against heart disease. 

Great source of vitamin K

Vitamin K is essential to blood clotting function. Low levels of vitamin K can lead to serious medical problems. We must get a certain amount of vitamin K in our diet to sustain these functions. 

Kale is one of the best sources of vitamin K in the world. A single cup of raw kale contains 7 times the recommended daily amount of vitamin K. 

Kale Risks

The only known natural danger of eating kale is to people who live with thyroid conditions. Compounds in kale can inhibit the absorption of iodine which is necessary for proper thyroid function. For healthy people, this poses no risk at all. But for people who suffer from thyroid disease, kale can be dangerous. 

Kale needs to be cleaned thoroughly. The modern use of pesticides and other potentially dangerous chemicals can cling to kale. Make sure you soak and wash your fresh kale completely before you consume it. 

Kale Nutrition

Curly kale is the most common variety of kale consumed by Americans. A single cup (67 grams or 2.4 ounces) of raw curly contains the following nutrients: 

  • Vitamin A: 206% of the DV (from beta-carotene)
  • Vitamin K: 684% of the DV
  • Vitamin C: 134% of the DV
  • Vitamin B6: 9% of the DV
  • Manganese: 26% of the DV
  • Calcium: 9% of the DV
  • Copper: 10% of the DV
  • Potassium: 9% of the DV
  • Magnesium: 6% of the DV
  • It also contains 3% or more of the DV for vitamin B1 (thiamin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), iron, and phosphorus

This same quantity of curly kale only contains 33 calories, 6 grams of carbs, and 3 grams of protein.

Kale FAQS

What is Kale? Kale was once referred to as leaf cabbage. It is a part of the same group of leafy greens that includes cabbage. Kale originated in Asia where it was cultivated for food, but it has also been cultivated as a decorative plant. 

Are there different types of kale? We are most used to consuming common curly kale. Other types of kale include Lacinato kale, Ornamental kale, Red Russian, Chinese kale, and Siberian kale. 

What are some of the health benefits of kale? Kale is high in antioxidants, vitamins C and K, it can help fight heart disease, high blood pressure, and even protect against cancer. 

Are there are any dangers to eating kale? The only known danger to eating fresh kale is for people who already live with thyroid disease. Since kale contains compounds that can inhibit the absorption of iodine, it can complicate the symptoms of thyroid disease. 

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Sparn Detox juices and smoothies help you detox and cleanse, they help restore the natural balance in your metabolism, and they provide sound nutritional supplements. 

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