Lots of health minded food shoppers know that the green leaf called kale is a relatively good choice for healthy meals, but what's really inside this vegetable product? Knowing more about the greens that you buy can help you make the best nutrition decisions for a diet, or for overall health and fitness. It's all part of being more informed about what you buy and eat, in an age where selective shopping makes a big difference in your longevity, your body weight, and the way you feel.
The amount of calories in a serving of kale is refreshingly low. For a standard serving of 1 cup or 130 grams of cooked kale, nutritional estimates place the overall calorie count at 36. That's less than most fruits and vegetables, not to mention processed foods and fatty, sugary stuff sold in other areas of the supermarket.
Protein and Fiber
Another plus of eating kale is the 2 grams of protein and 3 grams of dietary fiber included in the standard serving mentioned above. Along with this, you get 7 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of sugars and 30 mg of sodium, a marginal 1% of the daily allowance. This is a good report card from almost any vantage point, but considering all of the high sodium restaurant foods and supermarket choices available, kale is really a winner for getting fed without upping your sodium intake or spiking your glucose index.
The inclusion of essential elements and minerals is another area where kale really shines. The best values for this plant are its explosively high levels of Vitamin A, a whopping 350% of the daily recommendation. Another one is Vitamin C, a renowned antioxidant and overall health booster that you get from foods like citrus fruits and leafy green vegetables. Kale has about 90% of the daily requirement. There's also some calcium and iron in your 1 cup serving.
Specific values change a bit based on different factors such as whether the kale is cooked or eaten raw. Raw food advocates insist that eating vegetables without cooking them is your best chance to get all of the good stuff that nature put into them. With kale, according to nutritional estimates, the value of consuming the plant uncooked is marginal when it comes to most of the above numbers.
Nutritionists and health pros will tell you that kale ranks among the best and healthiest foods. For weight loss, it's a good choice, because the fiber and carbs will help get you full without adding hundreds of calories to your meal. The other health benefits also speak to the value of this green vegetable that's easy to prepare. Simply boil the kale and enjoy it as a side. Some cooks like to add vinegar or other extras, but either way, kale is an accessible part of a healthy diet. Look for organic or local options at your supermarket or community food store.