Kale is on the spot lately. Celebrities, like Gwyneth Paltrow, are eating kale to feel better and keep the ‘sleek physique’ needed for stardom.

For those who are not familiar with kale (or borecole), it is a vegetable with green or purple curly or plain leaves and is a member of the cabbage family – Brassica oleracea – which belongs to the species acephala.

It is being called “the queen of greens”, “the new beef” and “a nutritional powerhouse”. Gaining in popularity, kale is an amazing vegetable, being recognized for its exceptional nutrient richness, health benefits and delicious flavor.

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Eating a variety of natural, unprocessed vegetables is important for your health and choosing superfood kale on a regular basis may provide significant health benefits according to research; including cancer protection, lowered cholesterol and decreased risk of heart disease.

So, what makes Kale so good for you?

Kale and its antioxidant & anti-inflammatory nutrients

Kale’s health benefits are primarily linked to the high concentration and excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A (in the form of carotenoids), vitamin C and vitamin K (one cup (67g) of raw, chopped kale contains 33 calories, 206% of vitamin A, 134% of vitamin C, and a whopping 684% of vitamin K). It is also worth to mention that kale contains nearly twice the amount of vitamin K as most of its fellow cruciferous vegetables.

Kale is also rich in the eye-health promoting carotenoids – Lutein and Zeaxanthin. Carotenoids and flavonoids are the specific types of antioxidants associated with many of the anti-cancer health benefits. There are over 45 different flavonoids in kale with Kaempferol and Quercetin heading the list. Kale’s flavonoids combine both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits in way that gives kale a leading dietary role with respect to avoidance of chronic inflammation and oxidative stress.

kale chips

Filled with many other nutrients and vitamins

In addition to the above-cited nutrients, kale is packed with copper and manganese. It is also a very good source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fiber, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin E, niacin, calcium, potassium, iron (per calorie, kale has more iron than beef), magnesium, phosphorus, and folate.

(It only takes 200 calories’ worth of kale to provide 14 grams of fiber; or from 100 calories’ worth of kale, we can get over 350 milligrams of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the basic building block for all omega-3 fats).

Kale and its cancer-preventing phytonutrients

Kale has been studied more extensively in relationship to cancer than any other health condition. It is also an especially rich source of sulfur-containing phytonutrients which have been shown to reduce the risk of many types of cancer. These organosulfur compounds, known as glucosinolates, have been the hottest area of research on this cruciferous vegetable.

Kale may lower cholesterol and the risk of coronary artery disease

Beyond antioxidants, the fiber content of kale binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. One study, published in Biomedical and Environmental Sciences, evaluated the effects of a 3-month kale juice supplementation on coronary artery disease risk factors among hypercholesterolemic men; and concluded that “kale juice can favorably influence serum lipid profiles and antioxidant systems, and hence contribute to reduce the risks of coronary artery disease”.

Snacking healthy like Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow loves kale and she has many recipes with it. She has gone so far as to publish her favorite recipes including kale chips. Kale chips are, quite simply, fantastic! Crispy, light and pleasantly salty, they are the perfect treat for a junk-food fan. Though some supermarkets and health foods stores sell prepackaged kale chips, these tend to be high in sodium. You can easily make your own kale chips at home and you can take control of how salty they are. And the thing is that kale chips have half the total fat of their potato counterparts.

The more kale chips you crunch on, the more cancer-fighting antioxidants you feed your body, the more vitamin A you flood your organism with (promoting eye health and great skin), the more heart-healthy fiber you load up on. How many snack foods can boast that?

Not a fan of kale? These crispy baked kale chips will convert you!

Here is the Kale Chips Recipe

Ingredients: 1 big bunch of kale (wash, remove stems and tear into small pieces), 2 tablespoons olive oil and sea salt.

Methods: Preheat oven to 200 Celsius (400 F).  Toss kale with the olive oil and spread out on 2 baking sheets. Sprinkle with salt and roast for 12-15 minutes, until lightly browned and crispy!

So, there you have it. Just give it a try and don’t forget to add this miracle must have to your shopping list and start experiencing the benefits for yourself today!

 Need more guidance in your quest for a healthier you? Follow a balanced diet plan, designed by a dietitian.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s photo made by Elena Tubaro.

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