Kales or borecole (Brassica oleracea Acephala Group) are a variety of cabbage that belongs to the plant family Brassica. The three most common subtypes of this species of leafy vegetable are ornamental kale, dinosaur kale and curly kale. Each of these varieties has their own distinct flavor and texture and they vary in their general appearance also. While the curly kale has a typical pungent taste, the ornamental variety has a very mellow flavor and their texture is also very tender and soft. The dinosaur kale, on the other hand, has a slight sweet and delicate taste. Native to Asia Minor, kales have been introduced to Europe during 600 B.C. by a group of Celtic wanderers. Today, the vegetable is an important part of the cuisine and food habits of the people residing in different parts of Europe. In Japan, kale juice is a popular dietary supplement. Due to its high vitamin and mineral content, the vegetable protects us from a number of diseases. Some of the important health benefits of kale are given below. Go through them and know more about the different beneficial effects of the vegetable.
Health Benefits Of Eating Kale
- The beneficial effects of cruciferous vegetables like kales over cancer have been known for a long time. The vegetable is very effective in reducing the risk of lung, breast, bladder, colon and ovarian cancer.
- Indole-3-carbinol, a phytonutrient present in cruciferous vegetables like kales, helps to reduce the secretion of apolipoproteinB-100 (a cholesterol transporter) by the liver cells. This transporter is the prime carrier of LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) to tissues and increased levels of this cholesterol lead to plaque formation in the blood vessels. Thus, by lowering the secretion of the transporter, the vegetable helps to prevent a number of ailments related to the cardio-vascular system.
- There is a direct connection between vitamin A, lung inflammation and emphysema. Studies have proved that a particular carcinogen present in cigarette smoke, benzo(a)pyrene, causes vitamin A deficiency in the body. Thus, to counteract this effect; the daily diet of a person should have high contents of vitamin A.
- Research has also indicated that intake of vitamin C rich foods such as kales acts against inflammatory polyarthritis, a type of RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) that involves two or more joints.
- The high fiber content in kales helps to reduce high cholesterol levels and thus helps to prevent atherosclerosis. It is estimated that a single cup of kale supplies around 10.4% of the daily fiber requirement.
- Apart from this, kale also helps to maintain the normal blood sugar level and hence, is very advantageous for people suffering from diabetes.
- Kale contains high calcium content. Calcium is vital for the development and maintenance of healthy bones. A cup of kale provides approximately 9.4% of the daily calcium requirement.
- The vegetable is also a very good source of the trace element, manganese. This mineral takes part in a number of chemical processes in the body and helps in the production of energy from carbohydrates and proteins. Also, it is involved in the synthesis of certain fatty acids that are essential for the proper functioning of a healthy nervous system.
- Manganese is a critical component of an antioxidant enzyme called superoxide dismutase (SOD) which is exclusively found inside the body mitochondria. Here, it provides defence against the harmful effects of certain free radicals that are produced during the process of energy production.
- The presence of certain organosulfur phytonutrients in kale helps to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer in humans like bladder cancer and colon cancer and helps in the general strengthening of the immune system of the body.
- Kales contain a considerable amount of oxalates, which when becomes too concentrated in body fluids, crystallize and lead to certain ailments. It is for this reason that people with existing or untreated health problems should avoid the excess intake of kale.
- Until and unless the vegetable is grown organically, it is always advisable to avoid its consumption in order to avoid pesticide related health risks.
- Prior to cooking the vegetable, it should be washed thoroughly and properly under cool running water to remove any forms of dirt or sand from the leaves.
- The vegetable can be cut in any shape and size depending on the personal preference and also on the recipe to be prepared. Both the stem and leafy portion of the vegetable can be used for the purpose of cooking.
- In case only the leaves are required, they can be easily separated by using either your hands or by simply cutting off with a knife.
- Different regions prepare the vegetable in their own indigenous ways. For instance, in parts of Africa, the vegetable is boiled with coconut milk and ground peanut and is served with rice or boiled cornmeal whereas, in Portugal, it is used to prepare a traditional soup called caldo verde.