Health & Wellness

The Top 5 Benefits of Eating Kale

Even if you’re new on the health and wellness scene, odds are that you’ve heard all about the health benefits of eating kale.

After all, this leafy green is known specifically for being one of the most nutrient-dense foods throughout the world! But just how powerful is it?

Let’s dive in and learn all about the benefits of eating kale. I’ll even review a few tips on ways to prepare it for maximum flavor!

 

All About Kale

Simply put, kale is a cruciferous, leafy green vegetable that has achieved “superfood” status in recent years. [1]

If you’ve been following the healthy food movement, this isn’t new information to you. And if you haven’t, then allow me to introduce you to one of the healthiest vegetables out there!

Kale has an incredibly impressive nutritional profile. It’s not only rich in beta-carotene and fiber, but it’s also high in the powerhouse vitamins A (a precursor to beta-carotene), C, and K. [2]

But that’s not all. It’s also a great source of several minerals, including calcium, magnesium, potassium, manganese, iron, and more.

Perhaps one of the most important things to note about kale is that it’s also known to display high antioxidant activity. This is incredibly important because antioxidants fight the free radicals that cause oxidative stress.

As you may recall, oxidative stress causes many of our modern-day ailments, from obesity to diabetes to heart disease and more.

So, now that you know a bit more about why it’s often considered a “superfood,” let’s take a look some of the incredible health benefits of eating kale.

 

Top 5 Benefits of Eating Kale

Here are five of the top benefits of eating kale.

1. Contains detoxifying properties

One of the top benefits of eating kale is that it helps to flush the toxins out of your body. That’s why you often see lots of kale and other leafy greens included in detox diets!

Here’s how it works: Kale contains small molecules known as isothiocyanates, which actually increase the detoxification of carcinogens in the body. As a result, kale can actually help to regulate the detoxification activities in your cells! [3]

But that’s not all! The detoxifying benefits of eating kale are also due to another factor: the high concentration of chlorophyll found in this leafy green.

You may be surprised to learn that, according to numerous studies, chlorophyll can purify your blood as well as assist with liver function. [4]

As you may recall, your liver is responsible for cleaning harmful substances from your blood and routing that clean blood to other organs for use. It also aides in the removal of immune threats to your body, such as viruses or bacteria.

Now, it’s important to remember that hanging onto toxins in your body puts you at higher risk of everything from weight gain to cancer.

So, filling your diet with naturally detoxifying foods such as kale is a great first step to getting yourself on the path to better health.

2. Fights inflammation

Looking for more health benefits of eating kale? Here’s one that will definitely appeal to you: Eating kale has been shown to fight inflammation in your body.

This is incredibly important because chronic inflammation causes the oxidative stress linked to our modern health concerns.

So, just how effective is it? Scientists were so encouraged by the nutritional profile of kale that they decided to study the effect of supplementing kale with a high-fat diet in animals.

According to the study, published in 2021, eating kale reduced the inflammation caused by the high-fat diet. Moreover, eating kale was found to help modulate gut bacteria as well. [5]

Other studies have shown that kale contains an antioxidant called sulphorophane, which also contains anti-inflammatory properties.

In fact, one study revealed that due to its inflammation-fighting effects, sulphorophane could even aid cognitive function post-brain injury! [6]

It’s also important to note that kale contains 32 phenolic compounds (compounds that act as antioxidants to reduce inflammation)! [7]

So, as you can see, from modulating gut bacteria to promoting brain health, the benefits of eating kale are far-reaching, largely due to its ability to help fight dangerous inflammation.

3. Supports healthy cholesterol levels

Did you know that one of the great benefits of eating kale is that it can help to protect your heart by supporting healthy cholesterol levels?

According to one study, 32 men with high cholesterol consumed 150 ml of kale juice daily for 12 weeks. After the 12-week period, the participants’ HDL cholesterol levels were increased by 27 percent, on average.

Meanwhile, their HDL to LDL cholesterol ratio increased by an incredible 52 percent! Moreover, they saw a decrease in their LDL cholesterol concentrations by about 10 percent.

Even more promising? The average atherogenic index (the likelihood of having fatty plaques form in the arteries) decreased by just over 24 percent! [8]

Personally, I like to include kale in my smoothies versus making kale juice. Blending it with some of your favorite fruits and nut milk can be a great way to “hide” it in your food and still reap the benefits of this amazing superfood daily!

4. Reduces bone fracture risk

As I mentioned above, kale is a great source of vitamin K. In fact, when it comes to the benefits of eating kale, you should know that consuming one-half cup of cooked kale offers up to 600 percent of the daily recommended amount of vitamin K! [9]

But why is vitamin K so important? Well, among other benefits, it’s known to drastically reduce your risk of bone fracture.

According to one study, when 440 postmenopausal women with osteopenia took 5 mg of vitamin K1 each day for two years, they reduced their chances of experiencing clinical fractures by more than 50 percent! [10]

Additionally, the researchers discovered that the vitamin K benefits to bone health weren’t due to increasing bone mineral density, as previously assumed. Instead, the vitamin K1 was found to increase bone strength.

Likewise, a meta-analysis confirmed that taking 45 mg per day of vitamin K2 reduced hip fractures by 77 percent, vertebral fractures by 60 percent, and non-vertebral fractures by 81 percent! [11]

So, if you’re worried about your bone health, consider adding a half cup of kale to your salads, soups, or smoothies on a regular basis to increase your vitamin K and, as a result, your bone strength.

5. Supports eye health and vision

Finally, let’s discuss one of the lesser-known benefits of eating kale—the fact that it supports eye health and vision.

Kale is a great source of vitamin A, which is directly linked to eye health. In fact, did you know that night blindness is actually one of the first signs of being deficient in vitamin A

Most people are shocked by that link, but vitamin A is a fundamental component of rhodopsin, which is a pigment found in the retina that’s extremely sensitive to bright light. [12]

Another common eye problem is age-related macular degeneration, which is worsened by oxidative stress. How? Well, oxidative stress causes damages to the cells in your eye and speeds up the process of macular degeneration.

Interestingly, studies have shown that vitamin A acts as an antioxidant and helps to reduce oxidative stress. This, in turn, helps to soothe eye inflammation and slow down the progression of macular degeneration. [131415]

But that’s not all. The vitamin A found in kale has also been shown to fight dry eyes. According to a 2019 study, consuming vitamin A improved the quality of tears in patients with dry eye, exhibiting how helpful vitamin A can be for eye health. [16]

 

Benefits of eating kale - Dr. Pingel

 

Preparing and Eating Kale

As I mentioned above, I like to sneak kale into my soups, salads, and even my smoothies. But if you’re looking for other ways to enjoy this nutrient-rich leafy green, you may want to consider trying to make some kale chips. It provides a delicious snack in-between meals and can be seasoned with your preferred spices.

Click here for a basic kale chips recipe and adjust the taste to your liking. If you’re looking for something a little different and more adventurous, you can also try to make this Easy Skillet Kale with Lemon & Garlic recipe!

Key Takeaways

  • Kale is a cruciferous, leafy green vegetable that has achieved “superfood” status in recent years.
  • It has an incredibly impressive nutritional profile. It’s not only rich in beta-carotene and fiber, but it’s also high in the powerhouse vitamins A (a precursor to beta-carotene), C, and K. It’s also a great source of several minerals.
  • Five of the top benefits of eating kale are: helping to detox the body, fighting inflammation, supporting healthy cholesterol levels, reducing bone fracture risk, and supporting eye health and vision.

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