January 9, 2017

Kale Nutrition Facts

kale nutrition
Fresh green kale in ceramic bowl. Selective focus.

Looking to reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease? Then look at the kale nutrition facts. Consumption of kale has increased in recent years as we learn more about the health benefits of kale. Kale is very high in critical nutrients that improve the immune system’s ability to fight infections and cancer. It also prevents the hardening of arteries or atherosclerosis.

Lifestyle changes like diet and exercise will reduce the risk of chronic disease. Of the two, nutrition is by far and away the most important.

Hippocrates said, Let food by thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.  In the 12th century Moses Maimonides said, No illness which can be treated by diet should be treated by any other means. And, Alex Carrel said, Unless the doctors of today become the nutritionists of tomorrow, the nutritionists of today will become the doctors of tomorrow. That was said around 1900 and thus far physicians have not become nutritionists. Back to kale.

What is kale? Kale is a green leafy vegetable in the cruciferous family that includes arugula, bok choy, broccoli, brussel sprouts, canola, cauliflower, cabbage, collard greens, horseradish, turnips, and many more vegetables.

Kale Benefits: the Immune System

Our immune system helps us to fight infections and cancer. Kale is high in sulforaphane and glucosinolates both of which have unique cancer fighting properties. Kale contains higher levels of sulforaphane and glucosinolates than other cruciferous vegetables.

Sulforaphane plays a vital role in phase II detoxification ridding the body of harmful compounds while boosting antioxidant enzymes. It also has direct antibacterial and antiinflammatory activity. Sulfuraphane blocks enzymes turn on gene expression involved in the initiating cancers.

Kale also produce immunoglobulin A or IgA. IgA is a class of antibodies that act as the first line of defense against foreign invaders of the body. IgA is found in the secretions produced by the mucosal surfaces that line the gastrointestinal, respiratory, and genitourinary tracts. IgA prevents pathogens from adhering to the mucosal epithelial cells preventing penetration of various bugs further into the body.

Kale is high in glucosinolates. Glucosinolates are converted into isothiocyanates. Isothiocyanates produce cancer destroying enzymes and inhibit cancer development. Eating kale just once a week lowers oral, colorectal, and breast cancers by 17%, esophageal cancer by 28%, and kidney cancers by 32% as shown in this Italian Study.

Sulfuraphane modulates cancer cell death, inhibit metastasis, cancer invasion, and inhibit angiogenesis (development of new blood vessels needed for cancers to spread.)

Isothiocyanates alter gene expression triggering the removal of carcinogenic substances from the body.

Cardiovascular Health Benefits of Kale

A high intake of cruciferous vegetables is associated with a 22% decrease in the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease according to this study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. That cardiovascular risk is felt to be higher with kale.

Kale is high in lutein. In one study those with the lowest lutein levels had a five-fold increase in thickness of the carotid artery, which is a risk factor for heart disease. Kale helps with the production of nitric oxide. In fact, of all vegetables kale is the best at raising nitric oxide being at least three times better than any other vegetable. Nitric oxide relaxes blood vessels and improves blood flow.

Kale is high in fiber which improves cholesterol. Fiber binds to bile acids. Bile acids are secreted in response to fats in the diet. Bile acids are made up of cholesterol. Fiber essentially reduces the body’s pool of cholesterol as it binds cholesterol and then eliminates it during a bowel movement.

Kale lowers high levels of C-reactive protein. C-reactive protein is an inflammatory marker and is associated with predicting heart disease. But, there are other kale benefits.

Kale Nutrition Facts

  • Kale is low in calories but high in fiber.
  • Kale is high in iron, calcium, vitamin A and C and vitamin K.
  • It is high in antioxidants.
  • It contains healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
  • It is an excellent detoxifier.
  • There are a number of ways to cook and prepare kale.

So hail kale!

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Dr. Joe Jacko


Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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