Should an entire blog be devoted to a single vegetable? To kale, no less? Kale, the green leafy vegetable that unwittingly masquerades as spinach or occasionally its cousin, the cabbage leaf. Truth of the matter is that kale is not that fun, particularly visually appealing, or sexy. It just resembles the usual suspects of the green leafy-type. However, what if such a vegetable can offer a unique edge to your health and fitness regimen?
The Centers for Disease Control released a list of nutrient dense high octane foods that offer many benefits. These foods not only offer high nutrition, but help fight against diseases that decrease the quality and longevity of life. Dr. Joel Fuhrman adapted this into a list to compare the nutrient-rich versus the not so nutrient-rich. Foods are rated for the amount of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Kale was at the top of the list with 1000 points. Cola was at the very bottom of the list with only one point. Cola is just below corn chips with seven points. Essentially, the higher rated the foods are, the better the health outcome.
In the documentary, Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead, kale is named as an ingredient in rapid weight loss and booming wellness smoothie diet of the protagonist, Joe Cross. But what makes kale special?
Psychiatrist Drew Ramsey notes recommending kale to his patients in his regular practice. The vegetable has omega 3, vitamin A, and other nutrients essential to maintaining a good mood. As a psychotherapist, I too encourage healthy eating in tandem with physician recommendation for optimal mental health. Other research suggests that kale may also be good for other ailments including:
Heart Disease: Kale is known to be helpful for the heart but be careful if you already take medication for high blood pressure and cholesterol. Check with your doctor about any diet changes as it may interact with your current medications.
Cancer: Research suggests that kale reduces the risk of certain cancers, especially prostate, lung, breast and colon cancers.
Hair and bones: Calcium is essential beyond bone grown. The calcium in kale decreases the acidity in the body, which hinders hair growth and strength.
US News & World Report states kale is one of the top foods for post workout recovery. Its antioxidants reduce the effects of stress and inflammation.
Some may be warming up to idea of trying kale, but the thought of a kale salad with every meal may seem like an arduous almost impossible feat. The good thing is there is more than one way to get your daily intake. There are powders, capsules, ready-made smoothies, and countless recipes to make it more than just palatable.
Kale may not ooze style like the cup of java held by Audrey Hepburn while peering into a Tiffany's window. However, the health benefits of kale might warrant an introduction into your diet. While there is the risk in trying something new and the awkwardness of it not living up to expectations, but it may be worth it long-term. Be kind to your future self.
Erica is a psychotherapist and humanitarian aid coordinator who has a background in health psychology, global health, and addictions. She has over 16 years of counseling, teaching, and coaching experience. Erica has several masters degrees, is a licensed counselor, and has an addiction certification. She has worked with all ages in the US and abroad. Follow Erica on Twitter. Se habla español.
Main Photo Credit: Zigzag Mountain Art/shutterstock.com; Second Photo Credit: Karaidel/shutterstock.com; Third Photo Credit: Stacey Newman/shutterstock.com; Fourth Photo Credit: Foodio/shutterstock.com