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Health Benefits of Kale

Kathleen Berry-Hebert

First let’s learn some background on this newly popular, rightfully so, cruciferous vegetable.  Kale, originally from Asia, is in the same family as broccoli and cabbage.  There are many different types of kale such as ornamental and dinosaur kale.  Ornamental is more colorful and dinosaur has a stronger texture but sweeter taste. It was in the 1600s that kale made its way through Europe all the way to the United States.

Kale has increased in popularity because of its health benefits.  It is most well known for its anti-inflammatory effects.  Kale has a high amount of Omega-3 in the form of alpha linolenic acid.  Studies have shown this particular form helps to decrease inflammation.  It also has a high level of vitamin K, also believed to combat inflammatory processes.

Kale has a high number of anti-oxidants, which give it strong, anti-cancer properties. Kale has carotenoids lutein, beta-carotene, flavonoids kaempferol, and quercitin, all cancer preventing compounds.  Another compound believed to help prevent against cancer, glucosinolate, is also found in kale.  Glucosinolates have been found to lower risk of colon, breast, bladder, prostate, and ovarian cancer.

There have been studies that show kale helps in lowering cholesterol.  Kale binds to digestive bile that builds in your system if you have high cholesterol.  When kale binds to digestive bile, it helps to pass the bile through your system instead of allowing it to get reabsorbed.

Kale is also thought to have a strong anti-fungal function, which would be beneficial to fight against pathogenic fungi.

It is likely that steaming kale for about five minutes is how one will get the maximum nutritional potency.  But there are many ways to cook kale! Some say massage the kale drastically improves the texture.