As you approach your New Year’s resolutions and your health and fitness goals, it’s probably safe to say you’re looking at your diet and wondering how to give your entire lifestyle an overhaul. The goal to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables is at the top of many lists, and a lot of people are eyeing kale while wondering just how beneficial it might be.
Kale Packs a Nutritional Punch
In terms of calorie density, kale is your friend. A full cup of raw kale has only 33 calories with 3 grams of protein and 2.5 grams of fiber. Protein is good for energy and muscle health and fiber is great for feelings of fullness and for regulating your blood sugar.
Kale also features vitamins A, C, and K as well as the B-vitamin known as folate. While it doesn’t have as much as other sources, kale also has a bit of alpha-linolenic acid, a healthy omega-3 fatty acid.
Cholesterol Reducing Properties
When cholesterol enters the bloodstream, the liver uses it to make the bile acids that are used to digest fat in your body. When the fat has been digested, the bile acids are released back into the bloodstream, essentially leaving cholesterol floating around until it needs to be used again. Kale contains what are known as bile acid sequestrants, which stick to the bile acids and keep them from being reabsorbed. This ultimately leads to lower cholesterol levels in your body.
Beta-Carotene and Kale
While kale does have some vitamin A, it’s not a ton. What it does have, though, is beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is actually an antioxidant that the body uses to create vitamin A. Vitamin A is great for vision and overall immune health.
How to Add Kale to Your Diet
You don’t need to do anything special or fancy to add kale to your diet. There are a few different colors and each has a slightly different taste, so make sure you experiment with each if they are available at your produce stand or grocer. You can shred some kale into your regular salad, drizzle it with olive oil and seasonings to make kale chips, or even sautee it to eat warm. You’ll find dozens of recipes for kale online.
Warnings about Kale
Kale isn’t for everyone. While research isn’t clear, eating high quantities of kale may not be good for those with thyroid conditions, so check with your doctor to make sure it is safe. Leafy green veggies in general, especially those high in vitamin K, are not good for those who are on blood thinners, so make sure you are talking to your doctor about the foods you are eating if you are on any type of medication to avoid blood clots.