With so much on-going hype surround kale, I figured it was a good time to address the debate: is it so great after all? The answer is a resounding YES! It is great. But so are many other dark green leafy vegetables. It largely depends if you are buying organic kale or not. If it’s not organic, then you’ll be mixing the health benefiting substances in kale with pesticides and herbicides. Not a good mix. The good news is, these days there are a ton of innovative ways to work high-quality kale into your diet, including powdered kale brownies.
Above: Powdered Kale Brownies using Real Health Super Foods Powdered Kale
But what makes kale so special? Why did it become so popular in comparison to other green leafy vegetables? There are two primary reasons. One reason is that kale is very fibrous. The leaves are very strong and when you tear them you can see many strong fibers inside. This is in contrast to many other green leafy veggies. The fibers have two health benefits: First they provide obvious fiber content, which as we know is good for gut health, for decreasing inflammation in the gut, for propagating the fecal contents outside and for decreasing cholesterol.
Another kale-specific benefit is a lesser known quality regarding probiotics. The insoluble and indigestible fibers in kale provide an excellent growth medium for probiotics. In other words, to get the best benefits from probiotics it is not enough to simply ingest probiotics. You also have to give them a nice environment (i.e. medium) to grow in. The best medium for probiotic growth is plant insoluble fiber. Thus a vegetarian diet is actually the best to have the optimal gut environment and a rich probiotic species spectrum.
There is another reason why kale is so special. This is because of its dark green color, which in vegetables is generally due to chlorophyll. These are structures used by plants to convert sun energy to sugars, which are then used as structural blocks to grow the plant. Chlorophyll has many health benefiting effects but one of the most important is that it alkalinizes the blood after ingestion. This is a desired effect, as our bodies are constantly fighting excess acidity formed as a byproduct of our metabolism. Acidity is generally not good. It destroys cells and hinders regeneration and growth. Therefore ingesting chlorophyll in the form of kale is a desired course of action.
Of course kale also possesses many other healthy benefiting molecules that it shares with other green leafy vegetables. These are of course vitamins, minerals, digestive enzymes, and polyphenols which are powerful anti-oxidants and anti-aging compounds. In a nut shell all these qualities make kale the “special” one. But remember to choose organic kale only and remember to wash this plant thoroughly before ingestion.
Till next time,