Kale is always going to be found near the top of any list of healthy veggies and is probably the king of leafy greens. It’s a cruciferous veg like cabbage and broccoli and is packed with nutrients. As a quick run down 100g of kale gives you all the vitamin A (via beta-carotene) that you’ll need for each day and one cup of raw kale 7 times your daily vitamin K requirements and more vitamin C than an orange!
Kale will also provide you with 15% of your calcium and vitamin B6 as well as a good serve of magnesium and some potassium. Being lower in oxalate than spinach means the these minerals are more easily absorbed by the body. It’s even 8% protein!
Did your mother ever tell you to eat your carrots because they’re good for your eyes? Well guess what kale is also high in carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin that help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts1.
This leafy bad boy is also full of antioxidants like Quercetin and Kaempferal which help your body to heal, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, and even helps with depression. According to one study steamed kale was 43% more effective than cholestyramine, a leading cholesterol treatment drug2.
Some studies have shown that compounds found in kale are capable of fighting cancer although we’d like to see further studies to this effect before giving too much weight to this claim.
Kale and hyperthyroidism
Sometime ago I heard that eating too much kale can reduce iodine levels which may lead to a serious health issue known as hyperthyroidism. Cruciferous vegetables like kale can release these things called thiocyanate ions which compete with iodine for uptake by the thyroid gland. However, it seems that this is likely to have an impact when you are already iodine deficient rather than being the cause3.
To be on the safe side you can supplement your diet with iodine – as vegans we aren’t getting any from fish where most people get theirs from so that’s kind of Plan C at best. The better way to get iodine is to add some dulse or wakame to your diet. It only takes a teaspoon to give you more than enough iodine and can be added to many meals in the place of salt.
So if you’re not eating kale already go out and grab some of this leafy superfood. Easy to buy in stores all around the place and if you can find enough sunlight you can easily grow your own but keep them out of the full sun in the warmer months. Companion plant with calendula to help keep some of the bugs away.