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Kale is a very nutritious vegetable and there are a number of health benefits associated with its consumption.
The vegetable belongs to the Brassica family, along with broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.
Kale comes in two different forms: kale (which has smooth leaves) and curly kale (which has crinkly leaves). Its leaves are typically either green, blue, or purple.
So, what makes Kale so good for you?
This MNT Knowledge Center feature is part of a collection of articles on the health benefits of popular foods. It provides a nutritional breakdown of Kale, the potential health benefits associated with its consumption, as well as any risks and precautions that you should be aware of.
It also contains copper, manganese, and potassium.
Dietary fiber - kale is fairly rich in dietary fiber, which helps promote proper digestion. One hundred grams of kale contains 3.6 grams of fiber.
Antioxidants - kale contains carotenoids and flavonoids which are thought to help prevent the development of cancer.
Calorie count: around 80 percent of kale is composed of water and its calorie count is very low. A 100 gram serving of kale contains only 49 kcal and practically no fat.
It is important to note that cooked kale may not reap the same benefits as raw kale. The authors of one study concluded that "the cooking process of kale resulted in lowering of the antioxidant activity of its antioxidants especially of vitamin C, polyphenols and to the lesser extent of β-carotene."3
The health benefits associated with kale include: blocking the growth of cancer cells, reducing the risks of coronary artery disease, and lowering levels of bad cholesterol.
Kale may reduce the risk of certain cancers
Kale, along with other vegetables of the Brassica genus, contains organosulfur compounds. These compounds are thought to play an important role in preventing the development of certain cancers.
Research has found organosulfur compounds may inhibit prostate cancer cell growth. The compounds are broken down in the body into isothiocyanates - which can induce cancer-destroying enzymes.45
Kale may lower the risk of coronary artery disease
There is evidence to suggest that Kale contains compounds that may help lower a person's risk of developing coronary artery disease.
One study, published in Biomedical and Environmental Sciences, assessed the effects of a 3-month kale (Brassica oleracea acephala) juice supplementation on coronary artery disease risk factors among hypercholesterolemic men.
The study concluded that "kale juice can favorably influence serum lipid profiles and antioxidant systems, and hence contribute to reduce the risks of coronary artery disease".6
Kale may help lower levels of bad cholesterol
Kale contains bile acid sequestrants, which are resins that have showed promise in lowering levels of bad cholesterol.
A review of clinical studies of bile acid sequestrants for lowering plasma lipid levels found that "the bile acid sequestrants cholestyramine and colestipol, are excellent agents for lowering circulating low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels".7
Despite being rich in nutrients, there are certain people who should not eat too much kale. The vegetable contains a high amount of vitamin K, which can interfere with blood thinning or anti-coagulant drugs such as warfarin.
In addition, the American Association of Retired Persons warns people not to eat too much kale as it can be hard on the digestive system.8
Written by Joseph Nordqvist
Copyright: Medical News Today
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Nordqvist, Joseph. "What are the health benefits of kale?." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 3 Feb. 2014. Web.
10 Mar. 2014. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270435>
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