The Benefits of Kale–Part of Our Whole Body and Oral Health Superfoods Series

August 01, 2018

The Benefits of Kale–Part of Our Whole Body and Oral Health Superfoods Series

Is Kale Good for You?

healthy, kale smoothie, kaleIt seems that everywhere one turns today you’ll hear “Kale this and kale that.” What once was a rather obscure and “back of the room” green has moved way up to front and center in our diets, on restaurant menus and has gained a solid place in our culture.

But with all this hype, is this hardy green really worthwhile to add to your roster of foods? And aside from improving overall health, is there a benefit to your oral health as well?

Simply put, the answer is YES!

Let’s examine some of the many benefits of eating kale.

First, kale is loaded with fiber. Why is that important to your health? Well for one thing, a higher consumption of fiber helps to manage and to lower blood sugar levels. With close to 10% of the US population falling into diabetes, this is a very, very important level for you to gauge.

And you may not associate higher blood sugar levels with poor oral health but there is a very solid connection. Higher levels of blood sugar can lower saliva production significantly. Saliva plays an important role in fighting tooth decay and gum disease, and so as your saliva production lowers your risk of tooth decay and gum disease increases. Additionally, as blood sugar levels climb so does the likelihood of inflammation and periodontal disease. 

Fiber is a proven method of controlling high blood sugar levels. It slows down the intake of sugars into the system, improved bowel health and has the added benefit of filling you up so that you are less likely to load up on the sugars and carbohydrates. 

Second, kale is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. Comparing the calories versus nutrients, this superfood is off the charts. Just look at some of the valuable nutrients in this green wonder: 

  • Minerals–critical for so many functions in our bodies, from hormone production to bone density and even to maintaining a healthy heartbeat. Kale is loaded with both macro-minerals (calcium, magnesium and potassium) as well as many trace minerals (copper, iron, selenium and manganese). These minerals promote healthy body function, fight the damaging effect of oxidation and will promote better energy as well.
  • A super source of vitamin K–this lesser known vitamin plays a big role in building healthy bone density (it works with Vitamin D in your body to help the calcium find its way to your bones) and Vitamin K is sometimes called the “blood clotting vitamin” as it is a key player in helping your blood to clot and so your body can heal its wounds. While more studies have yet to be done, this vitamin is also linked to reductions in heart disease and potentially fighting Alzheimer’s.
  • Other vitamins–Kale is loaded with Vitamin A (beta-carotene) and Vitamin C. It is always best to get vitamins from natural sources and kale really delivers on these two. Additionally, kale provides many of the B-vitamins such as B6, niacin and B1.
  • Loads of powerful antioxidants–oxidative damage underlies aging, cancers and numerous body ailments. Just like oxygen can rust a car to dust, so can forms of oxygen cause tremendous damage to your body’s cells and tissues. While your body naturally produces antioxidants to fight this stress and damage, your system often gets overwhelmed and so adding more “troops” from your diet is essential. Kale is a powerful source of antioxidants, including quercetin and kaempferol which also help battle heart disease, cancer, depression and have even been shown to reduce your blood pressure.
  • Alpha-linolenic Acid (ALA) and essential Omega-3 oil–Our bodies cannot produce ALA but it is essential to good health. Wild caught salmon is one of the best-known sources of this essential oil, but kale also provides you with a good dose of ALA. Benefits range from improved skin, reduced inflammation, heart health, protection against cancer and even assisting in weight loss.
  • Overall, kale is one of the most nutritious foods you can eat. 

Third, improving cholesterol and lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. With tens of millions of American adults taking anti-cholesterol medications, it might be of interest to find natural ways to combat high cholesterol as well. Kale is definitely a player in that game. For example, Cholestyramine (a drug) tackles cholesterol by a binding process that “rounds up” the cholesterol in your blood and removes it from circulation. In scientific studies, kale (particularly when steamed) has been shown to operate in the same way as this drug and is 30-40% as effective in Cholestyramine. So, try some steamed kale in your diet for improved heart health. 

Another interesting fact about kale is that per calorie kale contains more protein that beef and more calcium than milk (and take note that the calcium in kale is more readily absorbed by the body). Now keep in mind that this is per calorie, so especially when compared to beef one would have to eat an unreal and a ridiculous amount of kale to equal the protein in an 8-ounce steak. But the point is that kale is a nutrient dense food when comparing nutrients per calorie. 

There are many, many benefits to kale beyond what we have covered here. But our goal was not to write and exhaustive study but rather to inspire you to add kale to your diet. 

How to Serve Kale? 

Numero Uno... make a smoothie. This is perhaps the easiest way, simply grab a handful or two of kale and toss them in a blender with some almond milk, berries, a touch of stevia and some other greens or whatever else strikes your fancy. 

Making a salad? Chop up some kale and mix it in with other greens. Some kale varieties can be a bit tough, or even a tad bitter, and this is best handled by chopping it into finer pieces that helps the kale to blend better and become easier to chew. Or chop it up into fine pieces and toss in some pine nuts, fruit and a few raisins for a super yummy salad. 

Lightly steaming kale can increase its nutritional value and make it easier to eat. Add olive oil, a bit of fresh lemon, a sprinkle of sea salt and perhaps a few red pepper flakes and you are good to go. Or steam, scramble with a few pieces of bacon and top with eggs and an avocado for a healthy breakfast start to your day.

Need a healthy snack food? Toss the kale in olive or avocado oil with some added salt. Spread the kale onto a baking tray (aluminum foil helps in the clean-up) and bake in the oven till dry and crispy… homemade kale chips are born! 

Really it is simple, just find places to include kale into your diet. Aim for a cup or two and day, your body will thank you for it. 

Enjoy!

 





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