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Health Benefits of Kale, Nutrition Facts

Kale is a vegetable that is leafy green and dark. It is a great and healthy way to add nutrition to your diet, as it offers a number of essential minerals and vitamins. Kale is a part of the cabbage family and is related to collards and broccoli. It can be cultivated in colder climates and can be classified into two primary types, i.e. Napus or Siberian, which has tender, flat leaves, and Scotch which is leafy and curly. Both the varieties contain almost equal amount of nutrients such as vitamins, calcium and antioxidants.

One can add kale to salads, soups and stews, but most of the times it is served in the form of a sautéed side dish.

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History of Kale

A wild cabbage called Brassica oleracea var. silvestris, which can be found growing along the East coast of Europe, is the oldest known ancestor of kale.

Brassica oleracea was harvested using ancient methods in Western parts of Europe. Its domestication began when it was brought to the eastern parts of the Mediterranean and cultivated. It is a genus of nineteen species. The many research studies suggest that the differences in the various cultivated varieties of the cabbage may have occurred due to random events between local wild plants and harvested oleracea.

Kale is the most nutritious and ancient among the Brassica vegetables. Nearly 67,000 acres are cultivated with kale on an annual basis in the United States. This is comparable to any other type of cabbage. However, kale is primary used as a decorative garnish with salads or as food for livestock.

Health benefits of Kale

  • Kale contains phytochemicals and other minerals which aid the prevention of colon and prostrate cancers.
  • It is very low in fat and hence helps to keep cholesterol in check
  • Kale is rich in flavonoids and thus has antioxidant and anti-tumor capabilities. Zeaxanthin present in kale is thought to protect the eyes and promote its light filtering functions. Thus it can be consumed to prevent ARMD and other eye abnormalities.
  • Kale contains various B-complex group of vitamins which are vital for substrate metabolism within the body.
  • It has abundant quantities of Vitamin C, Vitamin A and Vitamin K. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant and thus aids the cleansing of free radicals from the body. Vitamin A aids the maintenance of skin and mucus membranes as well as prevention of oral cavity and lung cancers. Vitamin K promotes bone health and inhibits nerve damage in the brain.
  • The various minerals such as potassium, manganese, iron, etc. available in kale promote the overall cardiovascular health

Side effects of Kale

  • Kale is very low in calories. So if a diet only consists of kale and other low calorie items then it may result in blood sugar problems, muscle breakdown, vitamin deficiencies and stomach upset.
  • Increased amounts of potassium in the body, caused due to excessive kale consumption can lead to hyperkalemia
  • A sensitive stomach may also develop several problems of the gastrointestinal system such as diarrhea, gas, abdominal cramps, etc. upon kale intake.
  • In very rare cases, kale consumption can result in increased levels of iron in the body leading to weight loss, changes in skin color, headache and fatigue.

Kale-Nutritional facts

As per Wikipedia, here is the nutritional data for kale:

Kale, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 117 kJ (28 kcal)
Carbohydrates 5.63
Sugars 1.25
Dietary fiber 2.0
Fat 0.40
Protein 1.90
Water 91.20
Alcohol 0
Caffeine 0
Vitamin A 13621 IU
beta-carotene 8173 μg (76%)
lutein and zeaxanthin 18246 μg
Thiamine (vit. B1) 0.053 mg (5%)
Riboflavin (vit. B2) 0.070 mg (6%)
Niacin (vit. B3) 0.500 mg (3%)
Pantothenic acid (B5) 0.049 mg (1%)
Vitamin B6 0.138 mg (11%)
Folate (vit. B9) 13 μg (3%)
Vitamin B12 0 μg (0%)
Choline 0.4 mg (0%)
Vitamin C 41.0 mg (49%)
Vitamin D 0 μg (0%)
Vitamin E 0.85 mg (6%)
Vitamin K 817.0 μg (778%)
Calcium 72 mg (7%)
Iron 0.90 mg (7%)
Magnesium 18 mg (5%)
Manganese 0.416 mg (20%)
Phosphorus 28 mg (4%)
Potassium 228 mg (5%)
Sodium 23 mg (2%)
Zinc 0.24 mg (3%)
*Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.
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