What is it that makes kale so unique?
There has been a lot of talk about kale, but have you ever wondered what the health benefits of kale are? First of all, this green leafy vegetable is well known for being rich in nutrients, including the antioxidants vitamins A, C, and K, as well as some dietary minerals, such as iron, copper, potassium, phosphorus, and manganese. These nutrients are necessary for organisms to survive and grow.
Studies show the benefits of kale
One study has found that kale extracts inhibited the cell growth of three human colon cancer cell lines in the lab1. The results are not surprising because, in addition to the antioxidant vitamins, kale also contains a range of phytochemicals, such the carotenoids, and flavonoids. Phytochemicals are chemical compounds that are naturally found in plants. They have been known to have antioxidant properties, promote detoxification, stimulate the immune system, and inhibit mutations and the growth of cancer cells to decrease the risk of cancers2.
Furthermore, kale is a type of Brassica plant. Other Brassica vegetables include cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. Research has shown that Brassica plants have a protective effect against cancer, lowering the risk of various types of cancer in people with increased consumption of Brassica plants3. Brassica vegetables contain glucosinolates, which are natural compounds that are thought to have protective effects against cancer. Glucosinolates have been shown to reduce tumor formation in rats and mice4. So all in all, because of the benefits of kale, it is easy to understand why it deserves the attention it receives. Perhaps, it should find a place in your diet as well.
1. Olsen, H., Grimmer, S., Aaby, K., Saha, S. & Borge, G.I. Antiproliferative effects of fresh and thermal processed green and red cultivars of curly kale (Brassica oleracea L. convar. acephala var. sabellica). Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 60, 7375-7383 (2012).
2. Kapusta-Duch, J., Kopec, A., Piatkowska, E., Borczak, B. & Leszczynska, T. The beneficial effects of Brassica vegetables on human health. Roczniki Panstwowego Zakladu Higieny 63, 389-395 (2012).
3. Verhoeven, D.T., Goldbohm, R.A., van Poppel, G., Verhagen, H. & van den Brandt, P.A. Epidemiological studies on brassica vegetables and cancer risk. Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers & prevention: a publication of the American Association for Cancer Research, cosponsored by the American Society of Preventive Oncology 5, 733-748 (1996).
4. Verhoeven, D.T., Verhagen, H., Goldbohm, R.A., van den Brandt, P.A. & van Poppel, G. A review of mechanisms underlying anticarcinogenicity by brassica vegetables. Chemico-biological interactions 103, 79-129 (1997).