It has curled leaves and a beautiful bright green color. Perhaps at first glance it is not given the importance it deserves, but in fact, kale is the king of superfoods. Let's start by saying that it is a precious source of antioxidants, such as glucosinolates, but also polyphenols such as quercetin, kaempferol and the carotenoids beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin (Shahinozzaman et al, Microorganisms, 2021). Not only that, this vegetable is also a source of folate, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamins, including A, C and K (Raychaudhuri et al, PLoS One, 2021). These substances give the kale interesting anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, the capacity to support the immune system and the well-being of eyesight. But let's understand better.
Kale counteracts the effects of a high-fat diet
A diet that is too high in fat can, in the long run, increase the levels of chronic inflammation, which, in turn, is the breeding ground for conditions such as diabetes, obesity, depression but also tumors and neurodegenerations. Not only that, such an unbalanced diet can also alter the intestinal microbiota and, according to recent research, from the health of the gut microbiome depends the health of the whole organism, including the functioning of the immune system. Well, studies have observed that kale, thanks to its fiber and nutrient content, reduces inflammation caused by a diet that is too high in fat. Not only that, this vegetable is also able to counteract the alterations in the microbiota and the increase in bad LDL cholesterol induced by a diet of this type (Shahinozzaman et al, Microorganisms, 2021 - Raychaudhuri et al, PLoS One, 2021).
Kale and the anticancer action
Before continuing, a premise is a must. No food or juice can ever take the place of medical treatments and tests when it comes to the fight against cancer. However, there are lifestyles and diets capable of putting the body in the best conditions to cope with the threat and also helping to prevent any cellular degeneration. Such a diet can certainly include kale. In fact, it has been shown that kale juice is able to overcome the intestinal barrier and counteract tumor degeneration throughout the body thanks to various processes. Kale, in fact, counteracts the damage of free radicals, the proliferation of diseased cells and promotes apoptosis, that is, programmed death (Piletz et al, Nutrients, 2021).
Kale and blood sugar
Kale, when consumed during a meal, even in small quantities, about 7 grams, helps to reduce the peak of postprandial blood sugar. This fact is noteworthy, since studies have observed that when, after a meal, blood sugar increases excessively this opens the way to alterations in blood glucose, even in fasting conditions, and then to type 2 diabetes. Not only that, these glycemic spikes increase the risk of developing arteriosclerosis (Kondo et al, Biomed Rep., 2016).
Kale and immune system
We are what we eat, you know. And this also applies to our immune system. In fact, the diet can help support our defenses, counteracts the inflammations that weaken the immune system and provides antiviral and antioxidant substances. Kale is a food considered capable of supporting the immune system thanks to its ability to reduce inflammation and thanks to its content in vitamin C and other antioxidants, such as quercetin, a substance with an antiviral action (Arshad et al, Food Sci Nutr , 2020).
Kale and eye health
Kale, thanks to its lutein and zeaxanthin content, also helps protect the eye from aging processes, which could cause retinal degeneration. In fact, lutein and zeaxanthin are the main carotenoids found in the retina. These substances have the function of protecting the macula, the central part of the retina, from the damages of blue light, they improve visual acuity and counteract dangerous free radicals (Abdel Aal et al, Nutrients, 2013).
Kale, better eat it raw, but never overdo it!
The best way to benefit from the properties of kale is to consume this raw vegetable, added, for example, to salads or as an ingredient in tasty and healthy juices and smoothies. Cooking, in fact, reduces the antioxidant power of vitamin C, polyphenols and, albeit to a lesser extent, also of the beta carotene contained in kale (Sikora et al, Acta Sci Pol Technol Aliment, 2012). However, as with any food, even in the case of kale you should never overdo it. In fact, kale, as well as other vegetables of the Brassicacea family, contain substances that can have an impact on the functioning of the thyroid gland, reducing the production of iodine (Felker et al, Nutr Rev, 2016). However, this only occurs in the case of already known malfunction of the thyroid gland or, in the case of healthy people, with an excessive intake of vegetables. It is estimated that, in order to have an impact on the thyroid gland in the case of healthy people, it would be necessary to eat 1 kg of kale every day for several months (Felker et al, Nutr Rev, 2016).
Therefore, never exceed the quantity and, if you suffer from thyroid problems, limit the intake of kale as well as other vegetables from the Brassicaceae family (Felker et al, Nutr Rev, 2016).