By: Dr. Masoud Abdar
Everyone seems to be talking about green smoothies, superfood shakes and vegetable juices nowadays, and no wonder people are discovering all over the world that they help curb unhealthy cravings, boost their immunity and are even a fantastic meal replacement for busy folks on the go. And what is one of the most common ingredients in these “green” superfood concoctions? Kale! Rich in vitamins K, A, C, and E, along with other vital nutrients, the health benefits of kale include detoxification, heart support, cancer prevention and a number of other advantages:
Sharp Memory and Vision
Kale’s lutein and zeaxanthin are what give it its dark green color, which are like antioxidants in the eye and filter harmful high-energy blue wavelengths of light, therefore preventing macular degeneration and cataracts. These are what protect and maintain healthy cells in the eye and actually improve eyesight.
As you may know, the body is exposed to very unstable free radicals every day through food, air, and water pollutants. They cause oxidative stress, which triggers cell damage. This is known to be associated with cardiovascular disease, cancer, cataracts, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s, just to name a few. The antioxidants, vitamin C, K, and beta-carotene are known to counter the damage from these free radicals.
Back in the day, humans used to consume a 1:1 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. Now, the ratio is at an alarming 1:16, according to Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy research. Omega-6 rich processed foods are everywhere and people live off of it today, leading to chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, cancers, and Crohn’s, just to name a few. Kale promotes balance in the anti-inflammatory omega-3 and pro-inflammatory omega-6. Foods rich in omega-6 to avoid are vegetable and canola oil, which are used very frequently.
Vegetables, in their raw form especially, have been known for centuries to promote health, including heart health. Of them, kale stands out as probably the most if not one of the most effective in lowering heart disease because of its duo-ability to be an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory agent. Studies reveal that kale lowers bad cholesterol (LDL) and heightens good cholesterol which fights heart diseases (HDL) by 27%.
The isothiocyanates produced by glucosinolates in kale, act as detoxifiers, ridding the body of toxins and free radicals. As mentioned before, toxins around us such as processed foods and pollutants in our water and air increase the chance of diseases. One thing to remember though is to try to buy your kale from a local farmer’s market or organic grocer, because the more exposure to sterilization, radiation, and lengthened storage time, causes kale’s detoxification benefits to dwindle.
70% of all research on cruciferous vegetables such as kale has found that they protect against cancer monumentally. Kale has a large group of sulfur-containing compounds responsible for breaking down food in the digestion process and biologically turning them into indoles, isothiocyanates, and thiocyanates, which aid in preventing cancer cell growth. These three work by deactivating carcinogens, lowering tumor cell migration, reducing tumor blood vessel formation, stopping cell death, as well as shielding cells from DNA damage and providing antiviral and antibacterial facets.
Infant Brain Development
Wondering what other food is good for your infant while pregnant or breastfeeding? Look no further. The folate in kale is so valuable to infant brain development and consuming enough of it prevents the most common and serious birth defects around. Folate/folic acid is also liable for healthy birth weights, proper face and heart development, and proper neural tube formation in newborns. The synthetic form of folate in supplements as opposed to its natural form found in kale and some other foods, are not as advised because they’ve been linked to seizures, vitamin B12 deficiency, sleep deprivation, inability to focus, as well as emotional variances.