I was put off by kale, mostly because it threatened to change my fruity smoothies green.
No matter what color it changes your smoothies, if you don't include kale in your diet, you should definitely start.
It is the superfood. It’s even better than spinach.
Kale is a green, leafy member of the cabbage family. It is very flavorful, has almost no fat and the vitamins, nutrients and health benefits are nearly unmatched. (1)
There are a ton of different kinds of kale. The most popular being curly kale, dinosaur kale, and red russian kale. (2)
Though baby kale is often preferred because it is more tender and often has a more a subtle flavor.
Every variety has their own unique flavor, texture and benefits. But no matter which kind of kale you prefer, they all share these 15 magnificient benefits.
Kale is Loaded With Free Radical Destroying Antioxidants
Kale boasts an impressive 134% daily value (DV) of vitamin C and 206% DV of vitamin A.
In just one cup!
Free radicals are in the air we breathe and we are exposed to many different types of free radicals everyday.
Sunshine, x-rays, pollution, even our bodies produce free radicals.
Frighteningly, free radicals are commonly known to cause cancer. (5)
But cancer isn't the only concern. Free radicals can also trigger other health issues like arthritis, Parkinson’s and heart disease. (5)
In addition to vitamins A and C, kale has a very healthy amount of quercetin and kaempferol.
Take Away: Kale battles free radicals so you don’t have to.
Kale is an All Natural Anti Inflammatory
One theme you’ll note in this article is that kale is the perfect food.
Here is another reason.
As a general rule, western diet is significantly lacking in Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.
Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, which is known for heart health and natural anti inflammatory qualities. (3)
Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are often supplemented in western diet in the form of fish oil pills.
But kale has the perfect balance of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids; almost a 1:1 ratio. (8)
The best part? No fishy bodily repercussion like you get with taking fish oil in pill form.
Additionally, kale has more vitamin K, a very powerful anti inflammatory regulator, than any food known to man.
That’s a bold statement, but the data speaks for itself.
Kale tips the nutrition scale at a whopping 547 mcg, or 684%, of your DV in merely one cup of kale.
Take Away: Kale is powerful way to include anti inflammatories and anti inflammatory regulators into your body without fishy pills.
Kale Fights Cancer Cells and Cancer Growth
Kale is not the only cancer fighting vegetable. In fact, all cruciferous vegetables have what it takes to stop cancer cells from taking over.
Cruciferous vegetables include: broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, radish, turnip and watercress, to name only a few. (10)
Kale has a high concentration of glucosinolates.
“Glucosinolates” is a big word that means “compounds that have sulfur in them”. (3)
By merely chewing kale, or any of its cruciferous cousins, you create indole-3-carbinol and isothiocyanates (glucosinolates).
Glucosinolates have been shown to eradicate the cancer cells before they are able to cause damage to your healthy cells. (11)
These wonderful glucosinolates can even hinder a tumor’s ability to grow the blood vessels that it needs to survive.
They can also impede movement of cancer cells, effectively slowing or stopping the metastasizing process. (12)
While these results are promising, www.cancer.gov does caution that genetics can impact the effectiveness of cruciferous vegetables on slowing cancer.
Take Away: Eat your cruciferous vegetables in whatever form because they are all great.
Kale Is Great For Your Skin
Kale is just as good for you on the outside as it is on the inside.
Skin benefits greatly from vitamins A and C and Copper. Three things that kale has an abundance of. (13) .
Not many people realize the benefits of copper. Copper is a mineral that boosts melanin which protects your skin from sun damage.
Kale is loaded with copper and vitamins A and C which produce collagen. (13)
Collagen is what gives skin its structure and strength and is also key to the reparation process. (14)
Some cosmetic companies are even putting kale in their topical skin products. (15)
Take Away: Kale is just as good for you on the outside as in.
Kale Keeps You on the Right (Digestive) Tract
Kale has a high concentration of fiber. And as with most leafy greens, has a high content of water. (16)
Fiber and water are two things that most people do not get enough of in their diet.
While water and fiber are both great for a healthy digestive system, raw kale can cause bloating and other discomforts. (17)
With 1.3g of fiber in one cup of kale, some professionals suggest this is too much fiber for some people.
It is also important to note that if kale is cooked for too long, the nutrients, like fiber, will be removed. (18)
The mineral make up of kale also promotes good bacteria in the gut, or prebiotics.
There are studies that show combining lentils and kale is a huge digestive power combination. (9)
Take Away: Kale is good. Sometimes too good. Introduce it slowly to your diet to avoid digestive distress.
Kale is High in Vitamins and Minerals...Which We All Need More Of
So far, this list has hinted that kale is high in vitamins and minerals. But how high?
Here is the breakdown of the vitamins and minerals with the highest DV%. (4)
Vitamin A- 206%
Vitamin B6- 9%
Vitamin C- 134%
Vitamin K- 684%
Omega-3 Fatty Acids- 121mg
Omega-6 Fatty Acids- 92.4mg
These are some pretty impressive values. And remember this reflects only one single cup of kale.
We have talked about some benefits of vitamins A and C and vitamin K.
But vitamin K is also one of the potential hazards of kale.
The daily recommended dose of vitamin K for an adult male is 120mcg/day. Kale has 4.5 times that in one cup.
Vitamin K is key in the blood clotting process. Therefore, if you are taking blood thinners, it is recommended that you steer clear of too much vitatmin K. (19)
Despite this fluke, the positive effects of vitamin K continue to wow the medical community.
Studies show that vitamin K helps to reduce the calcification of arteries which promotes circulatory health. (20)
Take Away: There is such a thing as too much for some. But for everyone else, vitamin K is key.
Kale Can Help Build and Maintain Strong, Healthy Muscles
Because kale is a vitamin and mineral powerhouse, many muscle guys credit kale with the building and maintenance of their hard earned muscle gains. (21)
That, paired with the natural protein in kale helps repair muscles and encourage muscle growth after working out. (22)
Indirectly, kale boosts the immune system and provides energy so that muscle buffs have minimal downtime. (22)
Take Away: Eat your kale to get big and strong.
Kale Lowers Cholesterol
Both raw and cooked, kale has cholesterol lowering capabilities.
Like other vegetables, kale has lutein. Lutein is made by plants.
Lutein stops cholesterol from building up in the body.
Generally speaking, it is recommended to eat kale raw or juice it. However, the best way to prepare kale to get the most cholesterol lowering benefits is to steam it. (9)
By steaming kale, the fiber is more easily able to bind with itself. This causes bile to be removed thus lowering cholesterol. (9)
Take Away: Increase kale, decrease cholesterol.
Kale Detoxifies the Bad and Replenishes the Good
If you have participated in any detox programs recently you will have noted that kale is one of the key components.
Our livers are the processors of waste. This means that at any given time, your liver is filled with the toxins.
Too many toxins will results in the liver not being able to do it’s job and that causes stress on other organs.
Kale works with your liver to remove the bad things hanging out in there.
Once it removes the bad, kale is right there with all of the good things for this vital organ. (24)
When using kale for its detoxifying qualities, it is best to steam it. As we discussed, kale is also best for lowering cholesterol when steamed.
Overall, steaming vegetables is the best way to get the most out of your greens.
Another popular way to get kale into your diet is to blend it with fruits and other veggies in a healthy shake. (25)
Take Away: Removes the bad, adds the good. Can hide in your smoothies.
Kale Keeps the Heart Healthy
Because of kale’s antioxidant and anti inflammatory traits, it is key to heart health.
But kale doesn't just have one or two antioxidants or anti inflammatory elements. Kale has many different of both. (3)
Kales detoxing qualities are also heart friendly. As we discussed with liver health, if the liver isn't functioning properly it causes damage to other organs.
And remember that kale lowers cholesterol and prevents the hardening of arteries. (26)
Take Away: Don't break your heart. Eat kale.
No Brainer-Kale is Good for the Brain
From a young age, even as young as in the womb, children benefit greatly from kale because it promotes brain development.
The brain benefits from vitamin K. Vitamin K creates certain fats that creates more brain cells.
Manganese is another brain healthy component in kale. It can increase brain function which will re energize you when you hit the 2:30 afternoon slow down at work.
Take Away: What’s good for the body is good for the brain.
Kale is Good for Your Vision
Carrots are typically associated with eye health.
The truth is, many vegetables will encourage eye health. But, again, kale comes in first.
Kale has lutein and zeaxanthin. Two of the 20 cartenoids found in our bodies. These two specifically target the retina and it’s health. (28)
The many antioxidants in kale also help with maintaining vision. Free radicals affect the eye just like any other part of us.
Zinc is another key element to eye health. Another thing kale is loaded with
These things help keep eyes healthy and keep diseases like macular degeneration and cataracts at bay. (29)
Take Away: Anyone can see kale is good for your eyes.
Kale Keeps Bones Strong
Kale is great for working out and building and maintaining muscles. But it is also phenomenal at keeping bones strong.
Vitamin K and vitamin D are our heros for bone health. (30)
And as we all know, calcium is a big help too. Kale has 9% of your DV of calcium
For reference, an 8 ounce glass of milk has 35%. (31)
Kale may be way behind a glass of milk for calcium content but remember that kale is a leafy green.
But bones need more than just calcium and vitamins K and D.
Bones also benefit from copper, iron, potassium, vitamin C and manganese. (30)
All of which are vitamins and minerals that kale has plenty of.
Because kale supports bone health, it should come as no surprise that kale can impede osteoporosis. (32)
Take Away: Kale, does a body good.
Kale Will Give Your Sex Drive a Boost
Move over, little blue pill! Kale might have you beat. And in a natural way.
Kale is full of many nutrients which lead to an overall better health. Better health translates to better sex.
It’s anti inflammatory traits increase mobility of muscles and also increase endurance. (33)
Something both you and your partner can enjoy.
For sexual health, we can thank vitamin B. But not the B vitamin you get in a bottle. For sex drive, (and for dealing with PMS), vitamin B must be absorbed into the body from a natural source.
Vitamin B balances hormones and reduces stress. Both of these have a high impact on whether a human desires sex. (34)
And let’s be honest, when you don't feel your best, you don't really feel like participating in sex.
Take Away: Kale and all of its benefits come together to make you feel your best. From head to toe, inside and out.
Kale Can Help You Lose Weight
Everybody wants a magic pill that will help them lose weight and look and feel their best.
Billions (with a B) of dollars are spent every year by people just trying to lose weight. Whether it is surgery, pills, gyms or supplements, weight loss is a huge money making industry.
And after people spend their hard earned money, 95% of them gain all their weight back. (35)
But what if I told you that you didn't have to do all that to lose weight? What if I told you there was a magic thing you ingest that makes you lose weight?
Yep! The secret is kale. And it really shouldn't be a secret.
We have discussed the detoxifying and anti inflammatory aspects of kale in detail: When you feel better, you do better.
And the fact that kale has fiber and proteins and that is key to feeling full and not overeating. You aren't eating empty calories per se, because kale anything but empty.
But you are filling your body with the good, healthy things that our Paleo ancestors did. (24)
What many people in western cultures have gotten away from is understanding that animals (humans) eat for nutrients.
We eat so that specific nutrients can bind with our physical make up and make our bodies work better. (36)
Anymore, we stop at a fast food place filled with nothing natural and eat it, because that is what we know. And generally, our bodies respond unfavorably by storing fat.
By simply adding kale to your diet a few times a week, the benefits will be amazing. Even if you don't see results right away.
Kale will increase the productivity of your digestive system. Keeping everything functioning at high efficiency. (24)
Take Away: To remove weight, you must add kale.
8 Delicious Ways to Get Kale into Your Diet
Steamed Kale Recipe
We talked a lot about the benefits of steamed kale so it would be irresponsible to not include a steamed kale recipe.
The beauty of this method is that it is so flexible. You could add almost any spice or flavor you like and would still get the amazing benefits.
1 bunch kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or any other seasoning you like. I like turmeric for its additional health benefits)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Separate the leafy green from the ribs.
Chop or tear the kale leaves.
Saute leaves in oil until wilted.
Add garlic. Cook for 1 minute.
Add water and all other seasonings except vinegar.
Bring to a boil.
Reduce to simmer and cover.
Simmer until kale is tender (approximately 20-25 minutes.)
Remove from the heat
Stir in vinegar.
Yield: 4 servings.
Raw Kale, Grapefruit, and Toasted Hazelnut Salad
This is a great recipe because it challenges the idea that kale has to be boring.
For this recipe, you can add any additional healthy (or unhealthy) salad toppings as well.
2 pink grapefruit
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced, divided
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup fat-free plain yogurt
1/2 cup cranberries, raisins or other topping
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon flax seed
8 ounces kale, very thinly sliced, or baby kale leaves
1 ounce toasted hazelnuts, chopped (1/3 cup)
1 ounce sunflower seeds (shelled)
Peel grapefruit and break into segments (or you can purchase grapefruit in a can)
Put slightly less than a 1/4 cup of grapefruit juice in a large bowl.
Cut 1/4 cup of onion to your preferred size and add to the grapefruit juice.
Whisk together lemon juice, yogurt, oil, flaxseed, salt, and pepper.
Toss the kale to coat.
Top with grapefruit, the rest of the onion, cranberries, sunflower seeds and toasted hazelnuts.
One of the most famous of the kale snacks is kale chips. And you can make them easily from home.
1 bunch kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
Options: Follow original directions but add the following flavors for variety
Mix kale with prepackaged Ranch dry ranch dressing for Ranch flavored chips
Mix BBQ seasoning with kale for BBQ chips
Mix kale with vinegar and sea salt for vinegar and salt chips
Line baking sheet with waxed paper.
Remove the kale from the ribs.
Cut or tear the kale into bite sized pieces.
Wash and dry the kale.
Spread kale out onto baking sheet.
Drizzle olive oil over the kale and sprinkle with seasoning salt.
Bake 10 to 15 minutes in a 375 degree oven until the edges are brown.
Mustardy Kale and Butternut Squash
Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it!
2 tablespoons olive oil
1small butternut squash, or any squash, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
10 cups of kale
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
kosher salt and black pepper
Cook squash in oil over medium for for 10 to 12 minutes, until the squash begins to soften.
Add all other ingredients and cook another 8 to 10 minutes.
Kale and Artichoke Dip
While this is perhaps not the most healthy of the recipes, it is guaranteed to be a party favorite!
1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped coarsely
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
6 ounces plain Greek yogurt (from 32-oz. tub)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 teaspoon garlic salt
6 ounces kale, chopped (about 8-10 cups)
1 (5.5) ounce package tortilla chips
Preheat oven to 400°F.
In a large bowl mix together all ingredients (setting aside 1/2 cup Mozzarella)
Put mixture into an oven safe dish.
Cover and bake for 20 minutes.
Stir mixture and bake an additional 10 minutes.
Uncover dish and top with remaining Mozzarella cheese, bake another 5 minutes.
Serve with tortilla chips.
Avocado Toast With Kale Tapenade
Kale is so versatile that it is also a breakfast food! Don't be intimidated by the ingredient list. The instructions are very easy.
2 eggs, poached
1 ripe avocado, peeled and cut into slices
2 tsp tahini
2 tsp pumpkin seeds
2 tsp chia seeds
2 tbsp superfood tapenade
Freshly ground black pepper
For the tapenade
1 cup fresh kale leaves
½ cup green pitted olives
1 tsp pumpkin seeds
½ tsp spirulina
1 garlic clove
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
A pinch sea salt
Drizzle tahini sauce on the toast.
Top with the poached egg and avocado.
Put all of the tapenade ingredients into the blender.
Pulse twice. Store in an airtight container.
Add a tablespoon of tapenade on top of the toast.
Sprinkle pumpkin and chia seeds over everything.
Potato Salad With Grilled Kale
Another example of the diversity of kale. You can grill it!
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more
2 pounds red potatoes
1 pound shallots (about 12), unpeeled
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons drained capers (optional)
1 bunch kale, ribs and stems removed
3 scallions, sliced
1 cup parsley leaves
Cook potatoes in saucepan.
Grill shallot 15–20 minutes on medium/high heat.
Discard shallot skins, keep the inside.
Whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper.
Add the rest of the ingredients and toss to coat.
Add kale and 2 Tbsp oil and salt to taste.
Put kale on the grill for about a minute.
Toss all ingredients with scallions, parsley, and shallots.
Can be prepared ahead and store in cool area.
Kale Smoothie Recipe
A kale smoothie is the only thing missing from this list. Here is my own personal recipe.
The beauty of kale and smoothies is that you can put literally any combination of fruits and vegetables together and the taste of kale disappears. It may look unappetizing and green, but this is probably THE easiest way to get kale into your diet.
1/2 cup strawberries ( fresh or frozen)
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup orange juice (my personal choice) or milk or water
2 teaspoons flax/chia seeds
1/2 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1-2 handfuls of kale
Cut all fruits and vegetables so that your blender can accommodate them.
Blend all ingredients until smooth.
If it is too thick, add more liquid. Will make enough for two large glasses.
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.