You can significantly boost your health by regular consumption of kale and other cruciferous vegetables. In terms of green leafy vegetables, you really can’t go wrong, but kale is definitely worthy of its reputation as “king of veggies.” Just one cup of kale will supply your body with disease-fighting vitamins K, A, and C, as well as with respectable amounts of calcium, potassium, manganese, copper, B vitamins and fiber.
A serving of kale provides more than 45 unique flavonoids, which have both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Kale as a Superfood
Kale is one extraordinary vegetable that lives up to its nutritional hype.
Namely, as far as calcium is concerned, one cup of kale will give you 90 milligrams in a highly bioavailable form. Moroever it was scientifically proven that calcium from kale was 25% better absorbed than calcium from milk.
Furthermore, kale is also abundant in both lutein and zeaxanthin at over 26 mg combined, per serving, for starters.
Of all the carotenoids, only zeaxanthin and lutein are found in your retina, which has the highest concentration of fatty acids of any tissue in your body.This is due to the fact that your retina is a highly light- and oxygen-rich environment, and it needs a large supply of free radical scavengers to prevent oxidative damage there.
Theoretically, the body concentrates zeaxanthin and lutein in your retina to perform this duty, and the intake of these antioxidants may help to prevent eye problems like age-related macular degeneration.
Some of the other benefits you can achieve from the consumption of kale are the following:
-Plant-based omega-3 fats for building cell membranes, protecting against heart disease and stroke, and regulating blood clotting
-- Numerous beneficial flavonoids, including 32 phenolic compounds and three hydroxycinnamic acids which support healthy cholesterol levels and scavenge free radicals
-An impressive number of anti-inflammatory properties which prevent autoimmune diseases, arthritis and heart disease
Eat Kale to Support Natural Detoxification
A key role in the support of the body to eliminate harmful substances daily is the consumption of foods that support both Phase 1 and Phase 2 detoxification. Phase 1 detoxification is when toxins are broken down into smaller particles, while during your body’s Phase 2 detoxification process, the broken down toxins are shuttled out of your system.
The consumption of foods that support Phase 1, but not Phase 2, will lead to a condition when the broken-down toxins may begin to accumulate in your body. However, here is where the fantastic kale plays the major role once more: namely, the isothiocyanates (ITCs) it contains help to promote both Phase 1 and Phase 2 detoxification. The George Mateljan Foundation, which created this amazing recipe for the super energy kale soup, explained:
- “In addition, the unusually large numbers of sulfur compounds in kale have been shown to help support aspects of Phase II detoxification that require the presence of sulfur.
- By supporting both aspects of our cellular detox process (Phase I and Phase II), nutrients in kale can give our body an “edge up” in dealing with toxic exposure, whether from our environment or from our food.”
Kale May Fight at Least Five Types of Cancer
Similarly to the other cruciferous vegetables, kale is a good source of cancer-fighting sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol. Studies have found kale to lower the risk of at least five types of cancer, including ovary, prostate, bladder, breast and colon.
Cruciferous vegetables, and kale as one of them, contain glucosinolates which break down into products that help protect DNA from damage.
The George Mateljan Foundation also notes that:
- “Kale’s special mix of cancer-preventing glucosinolates has been the hottest area of research on this cruciferous vegetable.
- Kale is an especially rich source of glucosinolates, and once kale is eaten and digested, these glucosinolates can be converted by the body into cancer preventive compounds. Some of this conversion process can also take place in the food itself, prior to consumption.”
There are certain studies which claim that kale in its raw form is best for cancer prevention. On the other hand, there are others who suggest that lightly cooked is best, partially because it improves kale’s ability to bind with bile acids in your digestive tract.
This makes the bile acids easier for your body to excrete. This provides two benefits: a favorable impact on your cholesterol levels on one hand, but on your risk of cancer on other hand.
A study in Nutrition Research promotes:
- “Steam cooking significantly improved the in vitro bile acid binding of collard greens, kale, mustard greens, broccoli, green bell pepper, and cabbage compared with previously observed bile acid binding values for these vegetables raw (uncooked).
- Inclusion of steam-cooked collard greens, kale, mustard greens, broccoli, green bell pepper, and cabbage in our daily diet as health-promoting vegetables should be emphasized.
- These green/leafy vegetables, when consumed regularly after steam cooking, would lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, advance human nutrition research, and improve public health.”
Super Energy Kale Soup
Note that it would be best to choose firm kale, with fresh deeply colored leaves with hardy stems. Kale with smaller leaves tends to be more tender and milder than larger-leaved kale. Avoid leaves that are brown or yellow or that contain holes.
Whenever possible, choose organic varieties as kale is frequently sprayed with pesticides, and particularly toxic pesticides at that. The Environmental Working Group conducted a study which discovered 51 pesticides on kale, including several they described as “highly toxic.”
In cases when you choose to consume it uncooked, store kale in your refrigerator (unwashed) in a plastic storage bag, and remove as much air as you can. Ideally, eat kale as soon as you can, because the longer it sits the more bitter the flavor becomes.
Interestingly, the flavor of kale gets sweeter after it’s been exposed to a frost, therefore winter is the ideal time for its consumption. When the temperatures drop, you would probably prefer a bowl of warm kale soup instead of eating a raw kale salad.
The recipe that follows, shared by the George Mateljan Foundation, will effectively boost your nutrition, increase your energy levels and warm you up.
- 3 cups kale, rinsed, stems removed and chopped very fine
- 1 cup diced celery
- 2 red potatoes, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 5 cups chicken or bone broth
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 medium carrot, diced into 1/4-inch cubes (about 1 cup)
- 2 teaspoon dried sage
- 2 teaspoon dried thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
Method of preparation:
Chop garlic and onions and let sit for 5 minutes to provide their health benefits. Then, heat one teaspoon of broth in a medium soup pot. Sauté the onion in the broth over medium heat for about 5 minutes, but don’t forget to stir frequently. Add the garlic as well and continue to sauté for another minute.
Next, add broth, carrots, and celery and bring to a boil on high heat. Once the mixture comes to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Add potatoes and cook until tender, about 15 more minutes. Then, add kale and the rest of the ingredients and cook another 5 minutes.
In case you want to get extra flavor and richness, simmer for a longer time, but add a little more broth. The prepared amount of soup serves four people.