Thursday, June 9, 2011

Powerfoods 101: Kale

In the cruciferous vegetable family, kale packs a powerful punch of nutrients in its leaves. Nutrients in these leaves include antioxidants, macronutrients, and phytonutrients. This superfood has been said to assist in cancer prevention, efficiently lower cholesterol, promote good eyesight, and fight against the common cold and flu. Some of its most valuable nutrients are Vitamins K, A, and C, Manganese, and Fiber.

Phytonutrients in many healthful foods are known to work as antioxidants to disarm any free radicals within the body before they cause damage to cells. According in to recent research, phytonutrients found in kale work at an even deeper level by signaling our genes to increase production of the enzymes involved in detoxification, the cleansing process in which the body eliminates harmful toxins.

As if being packed with these powerful phytonutrients isn't enough kale also manifests the ability to prevent cancer. The ability lies in its rich sources of organosulphur compounds known as glucosinolates which are broken down into the anticancer compounds called isothiocynates. Isothiocynates then induce cancer-destroying enzymes and inhibit carcinogenesis.

In addition to organosulphur compounds, kale displays a great deal of carotenoids, vitamin A compounds. As we all know Vitamin A is beneficial in that it promotes good eyesight. Two main carotenoids in kale are  lutein and zeaxanthin, which work as a filter to aid in  preventing damage to the eyes during exposure to ultraviolent rays.

Last but not least kale has a cholesterol lowering effect with its abundant source of fiber. These fiber components bind easily to bile acids which makes it easier for them to be excreted and results in  lower cholesterol levels.

Next time you want to try something new for dinner go for kale. You can cook it many different ways, although the best way to reap the best benefits is to steam it. Other ways you can cook it are stewed, in a salad, sauteed, and baked as chips.

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