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All About Kale And Its Health Benefits

By Dr. Nikita Toshi +2 more

Kale is known as ‘The queen of vegetables’ because it is considered one of the healthiest vegetables. Kale is not a new vegetable. However, for many of us, it is different from regular vegetables. The popularity of kale has skyrocketed all over from the last four to five years due to its health benefits. 

It was popular earlier in northern Europe and now throughout the U.S.A 

Kale became famous in North America in the 16th century and later in other parts of the U.S.A and Canada. Earlier it was used as a medicine. Some Greek physicians and botanists mentioned the effectiveness of Kale in various books.

However, for many of us, Kale is new and we don’t know much about it. So first, let’s understand what kale is!

What is Kale?

Kale is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family and belongs to the plant species named Brassica oleracea. The kale plant has green and purple leaves that make Kale different from other green vegetables such as cabbage. Kale is a winter vegetable and can be consumed raw, steamed, sauteed, boiled or even massaged with lemon juice.

Types of Kale

  1. Curly Kale – It is the most common variety. The green leaves look like ruffles and taste pungent.
  2. Dinosaur Kale – The name itself suggests that the green leaves are wrinkled like a dinosaur’s skin. It is also known as Lacinato kale. Redbor kale – The ruffled leaves ranging from deep red to purple.
  3. Russian Kale – It is also called Siberian Kale. It is rare to find and has good taste.

Also Read: Chives vs Green Onions: A Comparison Guide Based on Nutritional Value and Culinary Use

Nutritional facts about Kale 

Kale is a nutritional powerhouse that contains various essential nutrients. It is rich in-

  • Vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin B6 and vitamin C
  • Minerals such as calcium, potassium, copper and manganese.
  • Low in fat – a large portion of the present fat in it is an omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid. 
  • Dietary fibres
  • Low calories
  • Low carbs 

Kale is believed to be rich in the antioxidant compounds lutein and zeaxanthin, that may help lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration. Additionally, kale has zinc, beta-carotene, vitamins C and E that may aid in eye health.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Health benefits of Kale

1: Help in weight management: 

During your weight loss journey, you need to consume fewer calories and carbs. Kale is one of the best vegetables for weight loss that has just about 33 calories. Apart from low calories and carbs, it is rich in dietary fibres and proteins that help to suppress your appetite and make you feel fuller for a longer time. Remember, the darker the Kale, the more nutrients it has.  

2: Better heart health:

Kale has enough omega fatty acids, vitamin C and vitamin K. These nutrients are necessary for a healthy heart. Studies suggest that omega-6-fatty acids are beneficial for heart health. Kale is also rich in potassium and may reduce the risk of heart diseases and stroke by controlling the raised blood pressure. 

Kale contains a compound known as bile acid sequestrants. It is known to lower blood cholesterol levels that ultimately helps to reduce the risk of stroke. 

3: Help to control diabetes: 

Manganese present in Kale may decrease the insulin resistance that helps control the blood sugar level. Kale is also rich in sulfur which is important for detoxification. Sulfur is essential for glucose metabolism and helps in decreasing the risk of diabetes.

4: May reduce the risk of cancer:

Kale and other green vegetables contain chlorophyll that can help prevent the body from absorbing heterocyclic amines. As per studies, this chemical links to develop cancer. Hence, Kale may limit the absorption of heterocyclic amines that may prevent the risk of cancer. 

Kale is rich in antioxidants and vitamin C that may help prevent cancer. It also contains glucosinolates compounds. Studies suggest their potential ability to manage certain health conditions in humans, like certain other types of cancer.

5: May improve bone health: 

Kale is a good source of vitamin K and calcium that helps in improving bone health and gives structure to the bone. Vitamin K is essential for bone health as well as the clotting of blood. Its deficiency is associated with osteoporosis. So consuming enough vitamin K can help prevent osteoporosis. 

Potassium present in Kale is also beneficial for bone health. It preserves bone mineral density.

6: Help in detoxification:

Kale is an excellent detoxifier due to the presence of fibres. It helps to promote regular bowel movements and helps in body detoxification. You can have kale juice or even a smoothie.

Kale is a green, leafy vegetable that has numerous health benefits. It can give you great taste and also benefit you in various ways. You can add Kale to your diet in many ways, such as kale chips, juice, smoothie, etc.

Did you know the pigments beta-carotene and vitamin C, found abundantly in kale, may help in skin and hair rejuvenation? Beta-carotene and vitamin C are well-known for their antioxidant properties and are essential for the development and upkeep of all bodily tissues, including the skin and hair.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Also Read: Radicchio Benefits: Exploring Its Health-Boosting Effects Based on Research

Recipes that include Kale

Kale is an extremely versatile edible item that can be added to a number of recipes such as curries, salads and even pasta. It can be consumed both in the raw state as well as cooked and is extremely nutritious in both forms. Below are some recipes that can be made with kale.

1. Pesto- Kale pesto is a healthy alternative to the classic basil pesto laden with loads of butter. The smoothness of ground Kale tastes delicious when tossed with pasta and herbs or when used simply as a sandwich spread.

 2. Kale Salad- Kale leaves, when added to a salad, imparts a crunch that goes very well with other salad ingredients like juicy cherry tomatoes, onion rings, olives and cucumbers. A handful of fried peanuts or sauteed chickpeas would also be a great addition to a kale salad as they are rich in protein. 

3. Soba noodle salad with Kale- A twist to the traditional Asian food item, kale adds the much-needed greens to this lip-smacking picnic food. Kale can be chopped finely along with broccoli or other veggies of your choice and tossed with soba noodles. The salad can be topped with shrimps sauteed in olive oil to add a touch of umami to the food item.

Also Read: Potential Benefits of Chlorophyll: An In-depth Research-Based Review

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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