Kale can be bitter, but it may protect against cancer, reduce cholesterol and generally improve health.
“Kale is rich in so many different things,” says registered dietitian and nutritionist Cheryl Harris, of Harris Whole Health in Fairfax, who notes that the cruciferous veggie — which is in the Brassica family, along with broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage — is an excellent, potent source of Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, fiber and carotenoids, and that’s just to start. Research has also shown that kale contains 45 — count ’em, 45 — different flavonoids with a variety of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.“Any vegetable that has a very deep color the way kale does, that means there is a high concentration of nutrients, and that translates into a range of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects in the body,” says Deirdre Orceyre, a naturopathic physician at the Center for Integrative Medicine at the George Washington University Medical Center.This wide array of vitamins, nutrients and minerals results in several documented, distinct health advantages.
“Brassica vegetables are known to help with general health as well as heart disease and cancer, but even among this group kale stands out” because it has the broadest range of antioxidants and also the highest levels of several specific ones, along with Vitamin K and a type of Vitamin E that seems to be heart-healthy, Harris says. It has been shown to lower cholesterol and may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, although there is evidence that a person’s specific genetic makeup also comes into play. A new laboratory study also found that kale extract inhibits the production of existing colon cancer cells.