curly kale – healthy superfoods – by Dr. Alberto Parra
Nowadays most people are consuming inadequate amounts of fruits and vegetables, and regardless of the dietary advice by nutritionist and health professionals, obesity is rising to be a significant health problem in both developing and developed countries. According to a recent study about micronutrient malnutrition, combining lentils with kale would be a sustainable way to combat global hunger, and reviews of scientific literature identify cruciferous vegetables as a reliable source of vitamins and minerals as well as flavonoids, antioxidant enzymes, and many other minor compounds.
What nutrients can we find in curly kale?
Curly kale comes from the same food group as cabbage and broccoli, and it is the most common type of kale, with green leaves and a fibrous stem. Curly kale contains many different vitamins and minerals in higher proportions than the recommended daily value. It is a reliable source of vitamin A, vitamin K, and vitamin C. It also provides a substantial fraction of the manganese, calcium, and copper we need in our diet, and has low calories, high fiber content and omega 3 fatty acids.
As such, curly kale by itself improves our sight and prevents many problems in your eyes after its vitamin A content, it enhances coagulation and prevents uncontrolled bleeding because it has enough vitamin K, and boosts our immune system through vitamin C. Curly kale also has fiber, which does not only improve your bowel movement and stool consistency but also serves as a prebiotic carbohydrate that modulates your gut microbiota and prevents many gastrointestinal diseases.
There’s no doubt we can call curly kale a nutrient-dense food, it is an essential part of any weight-loss diet, and it may improve significantly the nutritional profile in undernourished patients. However, the health benefits of curly kale go way beyond nutrition, as you will see next.
Health benefits of curly kale
It is a powerful antioxidant: Kale has many antioxidant molecules and vitamins in a very high proportion, such as vitamin C and precursor molecules to the formation of vitamin A. They are abundant in curly kale and provides a potent antioxidant profile, which prevents oxidative stress from causing damage to our tissues and DNA. They act as free radical scavengers, shutting down those unstable molecules before they disrupt the normal function of tissues all around them causing cardiovascular problems and even cancer. With the antioxidant potential of curly kale, we can successfully fight off free radicals and prevent many diseases.
It has anti-inflammatory properties: Most anti-inflammatory foods hold this effect in the body after achieving a correct balance between omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Both of them are essential fatty acids, but they should be consumed in a determined ratio. Consuming too much omega 6 would be detrimental for your health because it has an inflammatory potential, but if you proportionally consume more omega 3 at the same time, the anti-inflammatory properties of this fatty acid will reduce the inflammation levels in your body. That’s just what happens with curly kale because it has the right proportion between omega 3 and omega 6, and holds a powerful anti-inflammatory potential.
It has a cardio-protective role: The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potential of curly kale improves our cardiovascular health and prevents heart disease. For example, free radicals can cause damage to the endothelium, which is the cell lining in small blood vessels. Inflammation also does a great deal of damage in blood vessels, and it is an essential step for the accumulation of fat in the arteries, causing atherosclerosis. However, curly kale prevents both events while increasing your good cholesterol and decreasing your bad cholesterol, which helps your body collecting fat from your blood vessels instead of building up bigger plaques.
It prevents cancer: One of the ways curly kale prevents cancer is by relying on the antioxidant potential we have previously mentioned. By scavenging free radicals, curly kale prevents these unstable molecules from changing your cell’s DNA and creating mutant cells with a potential to become tumors. Additionally, curly kale contains glucosinolates, which break down into indoles, isothiocyanates, and thiocyanates. These molecules protect your cells from further DNA changes, they inactivate tumor cells and induce cell death. Thus, curly kale has a protective effect against colon, liver, stomach, lung and breast cancer.
It’s essential for the healthy brain development: Studies have found that consuming kale during pregnancy is helpful to prevent birth weight problems and abnormalities in the formation of the brain and the neural tube. Curly kale contains a good amount of folate, and this dietary source of folate is one of the best to prevent congenital disabilities. Different from synthetic sources of folate, the one found in curly kale is more active and will never cause adverse effects.
So, consuming cruciferous vegetables is not only reserved for people who want to lose weight. They contain many nutrients and additional components with various health benefits for anyone with a beating heart.