With only 33 calories per cup, kale is one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat.
It's fat free and sugar free.
But it's what's in it that makes kale a health food.
Kale is high in protein. It's even been referred to as "the new beef" for non-meat eaters.
You can find 3 grams of protein in every cup of raw kale. That's about 2 times more than cauliflower.
Kale is also packed with all sorts of minerals and vitamins we need for good health.
There is in fact more iron in kale than beef, more calcium than milk and more vitamin C than orange.
It's no surprise, kale is a "superfood” with an impressive lineup of health benefits.
To help better understand how healthy kale really is, I created an infographic that highlights the benefits of kale.
1. Very Low in Calories
Kale is low in calories. It's even lower than other super foods like collard greens and Swiss chard.
1 cup of raw kale has 33 calories, packed with 5 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein.
Let's compare this to collard greens and Swiss chard.
- Collard greens: 49 calories per up, 5 grams of fiber, 4 grams of proteins.
- Swiss chard: 35 calories per cup, 4 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein.
Kale also helps with digestion with its great fiber content.
2. High in Iron
When comparing kale to beef per calorie, kale has more iron than beef.
While kale provides 1.75mg of iron per 100 calories, beef provides 1.04mg, according to USDA (1).
Iron is essential for good health.
It helps breakdowns of proteins and plays a role in the formation of hemoglobin and enzymes and transportation of oxygen to various parts of the body (2).
It's also used in cell growth, proper liver function and more.
3. Good Source of Calcium
Calcium is an essential mineral in preventing bone loss. It also helps with heart rhythm, muscle functions as well as maintaining a healthy metabolism.
Per calorie, kale contains more calcium than milk, and is also better absorbed by the body than dairy. Kale doesn’t contain casein, the protein in milk that’s often hard for many people to digest.
According to Sayer Ji for Dr Mercola, for "every gram of kale, there is 1.35 mg of calcium, and for every gram of whole milk, there is 1.13 mg."
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that getting calcium solely from just dairy sources is dangerous because of "casein, lactose, saturated fat, and cholesterol" which all contribute to poor health. But luckily most, if not all the nutrients found in milk are readily available in healthier plant-based food sources like kale.
Even the National Osteoporosis Foundation endorses kale as one of the best calcium sources to strengthen and prevent bone loss.
4. High in Vitamin C
Kale is an excellent source of vitamin C.
One cup of kale has 134% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C, while orange provides 113%.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant that serves many vital functions in body cells (3). It's known to aid cell repair and the appearance of healthy and strong skin.
Vitamin C also helps boost collagen in the skin and gives it its glowing, strong look.
This also means that a low level of vitamin C actually hinders collagen from generating, weaking your skin, and making it more prone to cuts.
According to Web MD, vitamin C can also function as a natural sunblock, which would prevent our skin from getting damaged by the sun’s harmful rays.
All in all, vitamin C is a very important vitamin for our immune system, metabolism and hydration.
5. High in Vitamin K
Kale is one of the world's best source of vitamin K. In a single cup of kale, you get about 7 times your daily recommended intake of vitamin K (4).
Vitamin K is well known for the important role in blood clotting. But did you know that it could also benefit the health of your bones, blood vessels, brain cells, and eyes?
Vitamin K contributes to bone health by helping bones to retain calcium. In combination with nutrients like calcium and vitamin D, vitamin K appears to help maintain bone health.
Research also shows that vitamin K could contribute to both brain and eye health by reducing the risk of developing age-related dementia and muscular degeneration.
Also increased levels of this essential vitamin has shown beneficial to those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
6. A Good Protein Source
Proteins are large molecules consisting of 21 amino acids. As well-known, 9 of those amino acids are considered essential to your body.
They are called essential amino acids because you must have them to live.
Kale contains all 9 essential amino acids and 9 non-essential ones. Our body uses protein to build and repair tissue. It is also the building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood.
Kale has 3:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio, which signifies an exceptionally high amount of protein in any vegetable. It's the reason why kale has been acclaimed as the "new beef" for vegetarian.
7. High in Omega-3s
Kale is also one of the few foods that contain more omega-3 fatty acids than omega-6s. Omega-3s and omega-6s both utilize the enzymes in the body. Yet, a diet rich in omega-3 but not in omega 6 is known to reduce inflammation.
Conversely, a diet that is based in omega-6 will increase inflammation in the body.
8. Good for Weight Loss
Kale is one of the "best weight loss foods” you can eat.
It is very low in calories, and high in water content. All which can help you feel full.
But despite being low in calories, kale contains a decent amount of protein and fiber, two of the most important nutrients in a successful weight loss.
Take Home Message
kale is incredible healthy, and I hope this infographic of kale really highlights how beneficial eating kale can be to your health.
And the best thing is, kale is very versatile and relatively easy to cook and add to any meal.
It's also a plus that it can be enjoyed as a snack. Take kale chips for an example.
For me personally, I like to add kale in smoothies, so my morning drinks and post workout drinks got more nutritional punch. If interested, you can grab the recipe here to try.
What’s your favorite way to eat kale? Leave me a comment below to let me know.