Articles by natural health author Tony Isaacs
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The Many Health Benefits of Cancer-Fighting Super Food Kale
by Tony Isaacs
(The Best Years in Life) The green leafy super vegetable known as kale is enjoyed by many people; however, a number of people are less than fond of kale and seldom, if ever, eat it. Perhaps that is because they have never experienced how tasty it can be when properly prepared or when it is featured in the right recipes. One thing is for sure, people who shy away from kale are missing out on a world of health benefits.
Kale is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family which is reknowned for their many healthy compounds and their many health benefits, not least of which is their ability to fight and prevent cancer. Other members of this "royal" vegetable family include arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, mustard greens, radish, turnip, and watercress,
Until the end of the Middle Ages, Kale was one of the most common green vegetables in Europe.
Russian kale was introduced into the United States in the 19th century by Russian traders after they first introduced it to Canada. Cultivation of kale was encouraged in the United Kingdom during World War II by the Dig for Victory campaign because it was easy to grow and it provided important nutrients which were often missing due to rationing.
Today, kale appears on many superfoods lists, and with good reason. It is highly nutritious, containing high levels of vitamins, minerals, and brain-boosting and health enhancing phytonutrients. Kale is also one of the easiest crops to grow in home gardens and by local farmers, thriving in small plots of land and personal gardens.
Kale is especially high in vitamins K, A and C. It contains more than 1,000 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin K, 98 percent of vitamin A and 71 percent of vitamin C (more than an orange). Kale is also a great source of calcium, magnesium, iron and antioxidants and it contains abundant antioxidants which help remove free radicals from the body which can lead to accelerated aging as well as cancer and other serious diseases. It only takes 100 calories of kale to provide over 350 milligrams for the most basic omega-3 fatty acid (alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA).
Kale Health Benefits
Kale provides comprehensive support for the body's detoxification system. New research has shown that the isothiocyanates (ITCs) made from kale's glucosinolates can help regulate detox at the cellular level.
Heart and Cardivovascular Health
Kale has a good balance of the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which is essential for heart health. Kale is also a good source of the mineral potassium, another must for heart health. Vitamin K is also associated with heart health because it is an essential factor in blood clotting and lack of it can cause hemorrhages. In addition, lack of vitamin K may cause mechanisms that stop the formation of blood vessel calcification to become inactive.
Kale helps manage diabetes in a number of ways. Kale’s sulfur content helps with diabetes because of sulphur's role in detoxification as well as the production of glutathione, one of the body's most important antioxidants. Sulfur is also extremely important for glucose metabolism, helping to decrease the weight gain and the risk of diabetes. One study found that kale contained more glucoraphanin, the precursor to sulfur, than broccoli.
One cup of cooked kale contains 10 percent of our daily fiber needs and increased fiber can reduce blood glucose levels during the standard fasting blood glucose test (a test of blood sugar levels after an overnight fast). Increased fiber also decreases glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) levels. Those levels indicate when proteins in the blood mix with blood sugar, and are associated with increased risk of diabetes complications.
Kale has at least 45 different flavonoids, which may reduce the risk of stroke. It also contains significant iron, which helps in the formation of hemoglobin, the main carrier of oxygen to cells of the body, including the brain. The omega-3 fatty acids are also important for brain memory, performance, and behavioral function. Sulphorophane has anti-inflammatory properties that may help cognitive function, especially after an injury to the brain.
The high fiber content of kale helps lower cholestertol levels because it picks up excess cholesterol compounds in your gut and pushes them out in the elimination process. Research has found that the fiber in steamed kale binds better to bile in the digestive tract, resulting in greater removal of cholesterol.
Kale is listed as one of the “good-for-your-bones foods” by The National Osteoporosis Foundation because of its calcium content. One cup of cooked kale has about the same amount of calcium as one cup of cow’s milk..
Skin and hair care
Sulfur helps in removing toxins from the skin, the production of collagen, which keeps skin looking youthful and aids in wound healing and reduces scarring. Kale’s vitamin C is also necessary for collagen production and vitamin A is a compound in retinoids, which are popular in anti-aging skin treatments. The iron in Kale may help prevent hair loss because Iron deficiencies can cause hair loss.
Weight management and digestion
With just 33 calories per cup, kale is a popular diet food. Magnesium is one of the minerals that most people are deficient in, but is extremely important for helping the body maintain optimum digestion as well as manage stress.
How Kale Helps Fight Against Cancer
Kale is an exceptional food for lowering our risk of chronic inflammation Many of the compounds in Kale, such as vitamin K, are key nutrients for helping regulate our body's inflammatory process. Inflammation often plays a key role in the development of cancer, particularly chronic inflammation.
Kale is a very good source of the anti-oxidants lutein, beta-carotene, kaempferol and quercitin, all associated with cancer prevention and treatment benefits. Like other members of the cruciferous vegetable family, kale is rich in sulfur containing compounds called glucosinolates which support detoxification and indole-3-carbinol which greatly reduces the risk of breast, colon and lung cancer.
Research suggests that kale may be most helpful in protecting against bladder, breast, colon, ovary and prostate cancers. A study published in Molecular cancer journal found that that sulphorophane glucosinolate stopped growth in epithelial ovarian cancer cells. Numerous other studies have been performed on kale which show cancer preventive benefits from kale intake, and in some cases, treatment benefits as well.
Kale's cancer preventive benefits have been clearly linked to its high concentration of two types of antioxidants, carotenoids and flavonoids. Within the carotenoids, lutein and beta-carotene stand out. Lutein and beta-carotene are key nutrients for protecting our body from oxidative stress. The most prominent of kale's may different flavonoids are the flavonols, including kaempferol, quercetin, and isorhamnetin. The glucosinolates found in kale are utilized for DNA repair and they help prevent cancer and slow the growth of cancer cells.
Because kale contains oxalate, a naturally occurring substance found in food, including leafy vegetables, you may hear cautions that eating kale could cause kidney stones. High oxalate levels can increase the concentration of calcium or oxalate in urine, causing kidney stones to form. Pay little mind to such cautions because kale, unlike many other leafy vegetables, has a very low oxalate level. That means that the calcium and iron found in kale are highly digestible.
Note: If you eat other leafy vegetables which are higher in oxalate levels, you can minimize the risks by chewing well and relaxing between meals - healthy habits we all should all be doing anyway.
After the New York Times published an opinion piece in January of 2014 about possible connections between kale and other cruciferous vegetables and thyroid problems, kale has come under suspicion for being goitrogenic – the term used for a substance that could cause swelling or dysfunction of the thyroid gland. However, recent studies have shown that kale and other cruciferous vegetables do not interfere with thyroid function in healthy people. According to an article in The Permanente Journal, even people with hypothyroidism can eat as much kale as they want if it is cooked.
A real risk with kale is pesticide consumption. The Environmental Working Group listed kale on its Dirty Dozen Plus list of most contaminated foods in 2014 and 2015. As a result, it is highly recommended that you choose organic kale if possible, and be sure to wash what you do buy thoroughly.
A simple and expensive food wash can be accomplished by letting produce items soak for up to half an hour in a large bowl of water with an added cup of white vinegar. Hydrogen peroxide can be substituted for the vinegar. Some people spray a combination of white vinegar and hydrogen peroxide on produce and then rinse with water.
Kale Preparation and Recipes
One way to be sure to enjoy outstanding nutrition and flavor from kale is to cook it and prepare it properly. Cutting kale leaves into 1/2" slices and the stems into 1/4" lengths and then steaming for 5 minutes helps insure quick and even cooking. Some believe that there are potential health benefits from letting the stems and slices sit for about 5 minutes prior to cooking.
There are many ways to incorporate kale into your diet. You can massage it with a bit of olive oil and sea salt for the base of a green salad, blend it into smoothies, soups or sauces, sauté it with other vegetables in a stir-fry, bake it into frittatas, lasagnas or burgers and even make it into kale chips!
Tasty, Healthy Kale Recipes
If you aren't fond of the taste of kale, perhaps you owe it to yourself to try properly prepared kale paired with a tasty, health recipe. At this author's main website's healthy recipes collection* we currently have 18 very tasty and very healthy recipes which feature Kale. Here are a some examples:
The bottom line is: don't count kale out too quickly. It is simply too healthy to pass up – and if you get creative with how you prepare and combine it in recipes you might find that you like kale after all!
This artilce was originally published at: https://thetruthaboutcancer.com/health-benefits-kale/
About the author
Tony Isaacs is a member of the National Health Federation and the American Botanical Council. He is a natural health advocate and researcher and the author of books and articles about natural health including "Cancer's Natural Enemy." Mr. Isaacs articles are featured at The Truth About Cancer, the Health Science Institute's Healthiertalk website, CureZone, the Crusador, Health Secrets, the Cancer Tutor, the Silver Bulletin, the New Zealand Journal of Natural Health, and several other venues. In addition, he hosts the Yahoo Oleandersoup Health group of over 3500 members and the CureZone Ask Tony Isaacs - Featuring Luella May forum. He is also the local moderator of the CureZone Cancer Alternatives forum. Tony and his partner Luella May host The Best Years in Life natural health website where their motto is "It's never too late or too early to begin living longer, healthier and happier lives."
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