Storehouse of nutrients, leafy Kale a must in our daily diet
Kale, a green leafy vegetable of the cabbage family, has shot to fame in the recent past. It originated in Asia and was brought to Europe around 600 BC. Also, known as a hidden superfood, Kale comes in various colours such as yellow, deep green, deep steely blue, purplish red and almost black. Its popularity stem from several health benefits which have been reported through ongoing research.
Kale belongs to the Brassica family (which has been found to contain powerful disease fighting phyto-chemicals). The unique phytochemicals in Kale include glucosinolates, flavonols and carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin.
Numerous epidemiological studies report that Brassica vegetables in general, and kale in particular, protect humans against cancer — particularly the hormone-related varieties such as breast and prostate cancers— age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, blurred vision, cardiovascular disease, as well as immune system disorders. In fact, studies have reported that eating lutein-rich foods like kale could lower the risk for new cataracts by almost 50 per cent.
A recent study published in 2008 in Nutrition Research journal stated that inclusion of steam-cooked collard greens, kale, mustard greens, broccoli, green bell pepper, and cabbage in our daily diet significantly reduced the risk of heart disease.
Kale is high on nutrition whether it is raw or cooked. It is also an excellent source of vitamin C and beta-carotene (plant form of vitamin A). Vitamin C and beta-carotene are powerful antioxidants, which help to build a strong immune system, fight chronic diseases and leads to slow ageing.
In fact, its high vitamin C content enhances the ability to absorb these minerals. Other nutrients in kale include significant amounts of calcium, iron and folate. Kale is also a good source
of potassium, manganese, Vitamin E and Vitamin K.