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What's the deal with kale?

Senior Wellness | Aug 17, 2015

A certain vegetable has made lots of noise within the food industry in recent months. Kale, short for borecole, has made its way into the diets of many people, and you should be eating it too. Numerous doctors and studies have revealed the health benefits of the dark, leafy green vegetable.

If you're unsure of kale, rest assured that it can be mixed and matched with your current dietary likes, such as salads and even smoothies. Maintaining an ideal weight is difficult enough, but one of the most important variables to a healthy lifestyle is the diet.

The health benefits
One cup of raw kale packs a healthful punch, according to WebMD. Each serving will provide you with the following dietary needs:

  • Vitamins A, C and K
  • Calcium, zinc, potassium
  • An omega-3 fatty acid known as alpha-linolenic
  • 2.5 grams of fiber
  • Folate, a B vitamin WebMD said helps with brain development

You may have questions as to how exactly those health benefits translate to your body. Vitamin K, for instance, helps the overall health of your heart. In an interview with Livescience, certified health and lifestyle coach Tina Paymaster said Vitamin A helps vision and skin health. The World's Healthiest Foods said kale contains 1180 percent of the daily intake for Vitamin K, and 98 percent of your daily intake for Vitamin A. The vegetable also contains 10 percent of your daily fiber intake. Kale can help seniors with diabetes manage your blood glucose, according to a study from The Journal of American Board of Family Medicine.

"One cup of raw kale packs a healthful punch."

Omega fatty acids are another healthy benefit kale provides. You may find it confusing that fatty acids are considered healthy, but according to WebMD, they are essential. The human body can't produce these essential fats, therefore, food is the only source.

"Kale has a good balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, necessary for heart health," Paymaster told Livescience.

A 2009 study from the American Heart Association's journal, Circulation, revealed a high intake of omega-6 fatty acids may reduce the risk for coronary heart disease. Seniors over the age of 60 are most susceptible to CHD.

The Mayo Clinic listed the recommended intakes of omega fatty acids for adults. However, always consult with your doctor to discuss the best options for your personal health.

Kale recipes
Other than the health benefits, kale is popular due to the versatility in which you can eat it. You can include it with a regular salad, or even make a smoothie out of it. WebMD also listed kale as a possible ingredient in sauces, soups and baked chips. Essentially, Paymaster said kale can be used just like any other green. Introducing the vegetable to your diet can also make cooking more enjoyable as you look for kale-oriented recipes.

"A high intake of omega-6 fatty acids may reduce the risk for coronary heart disease."

Eat in moderation
While kale does provide many health benefits, you have to take it in moderation. If eaten in excess, kale can cause bloating and constipation. The vegetable is also high in oxalates, which may pose issues for seniors with gallbladder and kidney health issues. It is still possible for you to enjoy to enjoy kale, but you'll have to make sure you chew well and eat in moderation.

High consumption of kale may also have an impact on a person's thyroid. If you have an underactive thyroid, talk with your doctor before introducing kale into your diet.

Kale is likely to remain an active part in many people's diets moving forward. Kale can be added to a wide variety of foods, and numerous studies have listed the health benefits the green vegetable provides. However, like any other food, you'll have to watch your weekly intake.