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All Hail the Super-Hulky Kale

ALA anti-inflammatory antioxidant arthritis asthma bladder breast calcium cancer carotenoids cholesterol colon cruciferous detox diabetes enzymes eyes fat fibre flavonoids glucosilonates haemoglobin hair heart hulk iron kale lutein omega-3 ovary oxygen pH phytonutrients potassium prostate protein skin staple steam stir-fry sulforaphane superfood teeth vitamin B12 vitamin B6 vitamin C vitamin K zeaxanthin

So Spinach is to Popeye what Kale is to the Hulk; indispensable for any kind of awesomeness. Think about it, what would Popeye be without Spinach? He’d be a pansy sailor whose ass keeps on getting kicked by Bluto who is, in fact, built like the Hulk. Which leads us to the Hulk (see, 3 degrees of separation buddie…so what if it’s a stretch!). The Hulk without Kale would be credible, because he’d be the geeky socially awkward Bruce Banner; this is not difficult to conceptualise. In fact, there would be nothing incredible about him, except perhaps the severity of his social anxiety. So, we hear you say “Kale doesn’t feature anywhere in the Hulk comics”, but mark our words, “Hulk Angry” when Hulk don’t get his fix of Kale. That’s why he’s green. So how is this of relevance to you? Well, think of Kale as the indispensable food item for making your body as strong and awesome as the Hulk…now that’s incredible homies!

Despite its recent en-vogue status, Kale is, in fact, one of the oldest cultivated greens in the world; farmed for well over 2000 years. It is a staple-food in Italian, Kenyan, Scottish, Chinese and Danish diets. Kale is a member of the cruciferous family; just like Broccoli, Cauliflower and Brussel Sprouts, but is more closely related to wild cabbage (hence the similarity of the German word for cabbage “Kohl” and Kale). According to the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index, Kale jumps and crashes miles ahead of most the rest of the veggie pack in ROI (return on ingestion).

There are more than 50 different varieties of Kale which vary according to length and colour…think 50 shades of green. It is also incredibly durable and grows virtually before your eyes; just like the Hulk. You get so many types of kale… Lacinato, Redbor, Gulag Stars, True Siberian, Red Russian, White Russian (nope, not the cocktail), Dwarf Blue Vates (should be a cocktail), Red Nagoya, Chinese Kale, Sea Kale and the six-foot tall Walking Stick Kale. However, the most popular forms of Kale are:

  • Russian Kale
  • Curly Green Kale
  • Tuscan Kale ( also known as Cavolo Nero, Dinosaur Kale or Black Kale)

The Tuscan Kale is generally sweeter and nuttier than the Russian and Curly Green Kale and is thus more popularly used around the world.

Here are some of Hulky Kale’s best attributes:

  • Great for your Skin, Hair, Teeth and Eyes: Kale is rich in silica which is super important for the health of your skin, hair, teeth and nails. Kale is also one of the best sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids that help to prevent eye disease. It also contains vitamin K, which contains 4 of the 13 proteins that our blood needs to clot and that influences our bone density and healing.
  • Kicks Cancer’s Ass in True Hulk-Style: Kale contains high levels of Isothiocyanates (ITCs) made from Glucosinolates, natural plant chemicals that block cancer-causing substances, stimulate detoxification and repair enzymes in your body with the effect that the division of cancer cells is inhibited. Kale’s inhibition properties have been related to bladder, breast, colon, ovary and prostate cancer. Kale also contains Sulforaphane (which is absorbed more easily when kale is chopped or minced) which is a chemical with powerful anti-cancer properties. Boiling decreases the levels of Sulforaphane, but steaming and stir frying does not. Kale is also a source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to inhibit the spread of cancer cells. Once cup of Kale also has about 547 mg of Vitamin K which protects against various cancers.
  • More Vitamin C than a Damn Orange Homie: One cup of chopped Kale contains approximately 134 percent of your daily recommended allowance of Vitamin C, while a medium-sized Orange contains about 113 percent of your daily recommended allowance. So, in other words, gram for gram, kale has more than twice the Vitamin C of an Orange.
  • More Calcium than Milk Dawg: So this will blow your mind, but calorie for calorie, Kale has more absorbable calcium than milk…woot?! Kale has about 150mg of calcium per 100 grams while milk only has around 125mg per 100 grams. So, advertisers would have been better placed with a campaign for “Got Kale?” Incredible how persuasive the media can be, no? Calcium aids in preventing bone loss and osteoporosis and helps to maintain a healthy metabolism.
  • Pumps More Iron than Beef, Yo: Can you handle any more incredulity? Calorie for calorie, Kale has more iron than Beef. Iron is vital for your overall good health, such as the formation of Haemoglobin and enzymes, transporting oxygen to various parts of your body, cell growth and proper liver function to name but a few.
  • Antioxidant: Kale contains high levels of Vitamin C, an antioxidant that wards-off free radicals and, in so doing, reduces your risk of cancer. Vitamin C also It has high levels of antioxidant vitamin C, making it a potent defender against colds and viruses.
  • Anti-inflammatory: One cup of Kale contains about 10 percent of your recommended daily allowance of Omega-3 fatty acids which guard against asthma, autoimmune disorders and arthritis. Kale is a particularly good source of alpha-linoleic acid, an Omega-3 fatty acid which promotes brain health (protecting it from stress) and heart health, and reduces your risk of Type 2 Diabetes. Each cup of Kale contains about 121 mg of alpha-linoleic acid. Kale also contains phytonutrients which suppress inflammation and increase your liver’s detoxification capabilities.
  • Lowers Cholesterol and Loves your Heart: Kale contains a group of resins known as bile acid sequestrants, which have been shown to lower cholesterol and decrease the absorption of dietary fat. The fibre found in Kale binds bile acids helps lower your blood cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease. A note to yourself- cooking Kale (steaming or stir-frying) significantly increases these bile acid binding characteristics. Kale also contains flavonoids which promote healthy circulation, as well as plant sterols which are important for keeping your cholesterol levels low.
  • Fat’s Phat Friend: Many of Kale’s top health-promoting properties work more effectively when you eat Kale in combination with (healthy) fatty foods such as Avocado and Olive oil, which make the fat-soluble carotenoids in Kale more readily accessible by your body.
  • Boosts Your Brain: The Vitamins B6 and B12 in Kale help to boost your brain power and prevent memory loss.
  • Pumped with Potassium: Kale is jam-packed with potassium. This is good, since potassium happens to be really good for the electrical activity of the heart, building muscle, synthesizing proteins and regulating your pH levels (for more information on your body's pH, check this out).

Additional Resources:

  • For lots of more information on cruciferous vegetables, like kale, and how they help prevent cancers check out the cancer.gov website here.
  • Check out the Huffington Post's article on the awesomeness of Kale here.
  • Increasing Dietary Potassium — Find Out Why Most People Need to Consume More of This Mineral, by Linda Antinoro. Today's Dietician. December 2012 Issue. Found here.

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