Why Should I Include Kale In My Diet?

7 Jul

Kale has many health benefits that can enhance the quality of your life. Although not recommended for everyone, Kale can be a powerful ally in your pursuit of a healthy diet.  In this article I have outlined the benefits and contraindications of Kale.

1) What are the benefits of Kale?

  1. Kale is low in calorie, high in fiber and has zero fat.
  2. Kale is high in iron, Vitamin K, Vitamin C (reduces free radical damage caused by exposure to pollutants), Iron, Folate, Magnesium, and Calcium (i.e. kale has more absorbable calcium than a small carton of milk).
  3. Kale has 2 grams of protein (which can serve to add muscle mass).
  4. Kale detoxifies the liver
  5. Kale is filled with powerful antioxidants.
  6. Kale is a great anti-inflammatory food (mega-3 fatty acids and phytonutrients, which help, fight against arthritis, asthma, and autoimmune disorders).
  7. Kale contains the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, along with beta-carotene which are all essential for good eye health.

2) What are the different types of Kale?

  • There are mainly 2 types of Kale: Red and Green

The primary difference between the two is in the way they taste.  Red Russian kale is sweeter compared to green kale. Therefore, it might be the better option to start out with when trying Kale.

  • Specifically, the different types of Kale are:

1. Curly kale – Most common type of kale that can be found in most supermarkets. It has a peppery flavor but if you prefer less bitterness, look for younger kale as they have a milder taste.

2. Lacinto kale (AKA…Tuscan Kale, Tuscan Cabbage, or Dinosaur Kale). Its leaves are narrow, dark green and wrinkly attached to a hard stem that should ideally be removed.

3. Redbor kale – They range from deep red to purple color, sometimes with some shades of green. In addition to cooking, Redbor kale can be used as a granish.

4. Russian (Siberian) kale – They range from green to red/purple shades. It’s sweet and mild with a hint of pepper.

3) How should I integrate Kale into my diet?

  • Kale can be eaten raw or lightly cooked as this helps to preserve the antioxidants, polyphenols and beta-carotene content. It’s great in soups, stews, stir-fries, salads, and smoothies.
  • Kale chips made in a dehydrator can serve as great snacks throughout the day.

4) When should I avoid Kale?

  • People taking blood thinners like Coumadin (warfarin) should avoid kale as the vitamin K in kale may interfere with that medicine.
  • People with cruciferous vegetable allergies should avoid Kale.
  • Care should be taken with people who may suffer from iodine deficiency or are suffering with any potential thyroid related conditions as Kale can interfere with thyroid health due to its Glucosinolate compounds. These foods are also known as Goitrogens and can interfere with iodine metabolism.

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