Eat Natural Series – Kale Kicks Inflammation
By Beth Etherington
Let’s take a look at kale and explore this nutritional plant powerhouse. Kale offers a range of protective benefits from anti-inflammatory, which is very important in blood sugar control, to cancer fighting properties. The beneficial compounds found in kale have powerful medicinal properties; making this member of the cabbage family one of the healthiest and nutritious plant foods around.
When looking for kale in the grocery store or supermarket, it is usually located next to other cabbage family members. Related to cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens and brussel sprouts; there are many different types of kale, the leaves can be green or purple in colour and have either a smooth or curly shape. The most common type of kale is called curly kale, which has green and curly leaves and a hard, fibrous stem.
A single cup of raw kale (about 67 grams or 2.4 ounces) contains:
- Vitamin K (684% recommended daily value)
- Vitamin A (206%)
- Vitamin C (134%)
- Manganese (26%)
- Copper (10%)
- Calcium (9%)
- Potassium (9%)
- Vitamin B6 (9%)
- Iron (6%)
- Magnesium (6%)
- Folate (5%)
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) (5%)
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) (5%)
- Phosphorus (4%)
- Protein (4%)
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin) (3%)
- Zinc (2%)
- Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) (1%)
- Selenium (1%)
- Sodium (1%)
- Omega-3 fatty acids (121 mg)
- Omega-6 fatty acids (92.4 mg)
Around 33 calories, 4 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fibre and 3 grams of protein. Kale contains very little fat, but the fat it does provide is omega-3 fatty acid called alpha linolenic acid.
Due to its fibre content, kale helps in your digestive processes and helps to keep your bowels healthy and strong, not only through it’s nutrient density, but through helping to regulate bowel movement.
The iron content found in kale is an essential component of red blood cells, helping to carry oxygen around the body. It is also important for enzymes, cell growth and proper liver function.
High levels of vitamin K can help protect against various cancers. It is also necessary for a wide variety of bodily functions including normal bone health and blood clotting. Also increased levels of vitamin K can help people suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease.
Vitamin A is great for your vision, your skin as well as helping to prevent lung and oral cavity cancers.
Vitamin C is an immune system booster assisting metabolism, hydration and helping to maintain cartilage and joint flexibility. Calcium also aids in preventing bone loss and osteoporosis as well as maintaining a healthy metabolism.
This super vegetable is great support for your cardiovascular system, coupled with keeping blood sugars and insulin on the low side; eating more kale can help manage cholesterol ratios, lowering LDL cholesterol, increasing HDL and lowering blood fats (triglycerides).
Kale’s fibre and sulfur content are important elements for detoxifying your body and keeping your liver healthy. It is filled with powerful antioxidants such as carotenoids and flavonoids which help protect against various cancers.
The Anti-inflammatory Agent
An important aspect of managing type 2 diabetes, is to ensure inflammation is kept at bay. Essentially high blood glucose and insulin levels initiate an inflammatory response, making diabetes an inflammatory condition. One of the most beneficial properties of kale is it’s ability to be a powerful anti-inflammatory agent.
One cup has 10% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of omega-3 fatty acids, which also help fight against cardiovascular disease, asthma, autoimmune disorders and bone & joint health.
The balance in kale of omega 3 to omega 6 is almost perfect. The Western diet is extremely biased towards excessive amounts of omega 6 fat, which is not how our genetic makeup is designed. We’ve evolved to have a 1:1 ratio of omega 6 to omega 3, making most modern diets incredibly pro-inflammatory.
Inflammation is chronic and wide spread in today’s World, not only is it linked to type 2 diabetes, but nearly every disease and condition known to the medical profession, including arthritis, Crohn’s Disease and cancer.
The Cancer Fighter
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower have been shown to fight against cancer and kale is no exception either. The success of these vegetables is down to their sulfur containing compounds – glucosinolates.
These chemicals break down during the digestive process into biologically active compounds, which prevent cancer cell growth. Known as indoles, thiocyanates and isothiocyanates, these compounds have been discovered to prevent cancer growth in rodents. Indoles and isothiocyanates are known to protect against cancer of the bladder, breast, colon, liver, lung and stomach. This is because they have natural detoxifying abilities, especially at a cellular level, helping to eliminate them from the body.
Toxins in our environment, such as manufactured and processed foods, additives, preservatives, environmental pollutants, pesticides, and medications increase the toxicity level in the body and increase the chance of disease.
Start using this green leafy powerhouse as part of your regular diet, cut raw for salads, steam and toss in butter for a great accompaniment to meats, fish and beans, or use whole as part of a green veggie smoothie.
Share the love of this fabulous vegetable by using the ‘share’ buttons, or why not post a recipe or link in the comments section, if you have a tasty meal idea.
Beth Etherington is a Nutritional Therapist and creator of The Sugar Hunter Program, an online self-management toolkit for blood sugar control. FREE membership and FREE taster available at: http://www.clinicanutrition.com