There is a plethora of different wonder vegetables and fruits laying claim to miraculous health and wellbeing benefits, on the marketplace. One of the more recent entries into this arena is kale, a curly leafed European vegetable, not unlike the humble cabbage.
Despite the heightened publicity around this unassuming plant; many are unaware of the actual benefits or complications of adopting kale juice into a regular, healthy diet. Kale is a relative of cruciferous group of vegetables, which are recommended to be included at least 2-3 times per week, as part of your diet.
The fundamental advantage of the vegetable is its sheer density of essential nutrients and vitamins: Compared, gram for gram, with an average orange – kale juice packs nearly 20% more Vitamin C, as well as an abundance of Vitamin K (it’s argued, in fact, to be a greater source of Vitamin K than any of its green-leafed contemporaries).
Studies have produced interesting evidence of kale lowering the risk of a number of different types of cancer – compounds in the vegetable are broken down in the body into isothiocyanates, predominant sources of ‘anti-cancer’ enzymes, which inhibit the growth of cancerous cells.
On a simpler, daily perspective: the plant is rich in fibre and low in fat (although, does contain some omega-3 fatty acids), rendering it easily digestible and an ideal detox food.
However, even with the aforementioned nutrients and a surplus of calcium, kale does not come without its own leafy safety warning. Further study has identified a link between over consumption of the cruciferous vegetable group – which includes sprouts, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower among other regular greens – and hypothyroidism.
In essence, glucosinolate compounds found in these vegetables can hinder the thyroid hormone generating tiredness, weight gain and a strange aversion to cold temperatures. Furthermore, remember that Vitamin K surplus? Too much of that can cause complications with the circulatory system, especially if you are on a course of blood thinning medication or something similar.
A popular method of regularly consuming kale and other similar healthy produce, is to ‘juice’ it, or take on a juice diet to rapidly shed weight. A common complication with these diets are intestinal distress such as cramps, gas or irregular bowel movements – this is particularly so for a kale-juice-only regime, as the body cannot adequately digest some of the more complex sugars within the plant itself.
Nevertheless, don’t allow this to ward you off from adopting kale juice into your diet; as with any food type, or health issue, the key is with diversity and moderation. As part of a balanced, healthy and well-paced eating regime, kale can offer a multitude of benefits, but it can’t singularly shoulder the weight of well rounded, full meals.
Ramsey, D. and Iserloh, J. (2013). 50 Shades of Kale. New York: HarperCollins.
The World’s Healthiest Foods. What’s New and Beneficial About Kale. Available: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=38
Padilla, G. et al., (2007). Variation of Glucosinolates in Vegetable Crops of Brassica Rapa. Phytochemistry, Vol 68 (4), pp536-545.