Kale Yeah! Top 4 Health Benefits of Our Favorite Green

Ahhh…kale. This lovely cruciferous vegetable is chock-full of nutrients, so if you’re not already including kale at least a few times a week in your meals, you probably should. Here’s why we think kale makes such a terrific base for salads, soups, stir-frys, smoothies, and more.

1. Cancer Fighting

Cruciferous vegetables have been studied quite thoroughly for its possible cancer-fighting properties – and kale is one of the top prospects. In particular, kale is hailed for its high concentration of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients. Combined, these nutrients help to reduce oxidative stress on the body and reduce chronic inflammations; which can help reduce the risk of certain cancers. Studies on the effects of increasing cruciferous vegetables have indicated that it could possibly prevent bladder, breast, colon, ovarian, and prostate cancers.

2. Chronic Problem Prevention

Kale is a particularly good source of two types of antioxidants: carotenoids and flavonoids. The carotenoids in kale can help boost lutein and beta-carotene levels in the body to reduce oxidative stress on the cells that can lead to cataracts, atherosclerosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Meanwhile, flavonoids in kale include kaempferol and quercetin, along with 45 others that help cells to repair themselves.

3. Help with Inflammation

Just 100 calories of kale includes 350mg of omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). While there’s no specific research on the ALA in kale, other studies have shown that increasing omega-3 fatty acids can help to reduce arthritic pain, as well as other acute and chronic pain. Additionally, kale has a substantial amount of vitamin K – over 1000% of your daily-recommended intake in just one cup of cooked kale. Combined with omega-3, the nutrients in kale can assist with chronic inflammation.

4. Cardio & Cholesterol

Kale is terrific at helping your heart – by lowering cholesterol. The high fiber content in kale helps to bind with bile acids in the digestive system so they aren’t absorbed. In turn, this encourages the body to use existing cholesterol to create more bile acids, lowering your cholesterol. Steamed kale has shown to be able to absorb 42% as many bile acids as the prescription drug cholestyramine – so starting with kale now can mean not having to take medication later.

Benefitting from Kale

To maximize the health benefits of kale, include 1 ½ cups of it (and other cruciferous vegetables) into your diet at least 2-3 times per week. If you can, gradually increase the frequency and amounts to 2 cups 4-5 times per week. Although fresh kale offers numerous health benefits, studies have shown that lightly steamed kale helps to soften up tougher fibers and break down the kale slightly so the nutrients can be more easily absorbed. Cut kale into ½” slices (smaller for stems) and let steam for 5 minutes. Enjoy!

Need recipe inspiration? Try this Kale & 'Ricotta' Pasta salad from our Meal Planner!