Foods are highly essential for the maintenance of human health and the vegetables we eat are one of the essential components of our diets. Brassica vegetables are a type of food that contains high nutritional and medicinal values. These vegetables contain beneficial carotenoid compounds, dietary minerals and sulfur that are essential for a healthy body. Acknowledging the metabolism of these compounds in plants as well as how they can be influenced to boost their medicinal values has gained increasing attention. Understanding their characteristics helps an individual to tap into their health benefits, especially how they can be helpful in preventing/eradicating diseases.
Kale is closely related to other Brassica vegetables such as oilseed rape (Brassica napus L.), broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. Italica), cauliflower (Brassica oleracea var. Botrytis) and cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. Capitata). Notwithstanding its popularity, kale remains one of the less-studied vegetables. Studies reveal that the regular consumption of kale is linked with reduced risk of chronic and degenerative diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancers. Kale is botanically known as Brassica oleracea var Acephala and it belongs to the family of Brassicaceae. Originally from Asia and the eastern Mediterranean regions, this headless leafy cabbage or borecole is mostly distinguished by its large mid-ribbed leaves and long petioles. 
Kale is an excellent constituent of vitamins (A, C, K), magnesium, folates, potassium, protein, calcium, dietary fibre, minerals and prebiotic carbohydrates. It contains high levels of health-promoting phytochemicals such as ascorbic acid, flavonoids, β-carotene, carotenoids lutein and other phenolics. These components contribute immensely to the high antioxidant activities of this vegetable. To a larger extent, the dietary consumption of certain carotenoids has been linked with a reduced risk of diseases. Being a rich source of phytonutrients such as carotenoids, S-methylcysteine sulfoxide (MCSO), glucosinolates, and essential vitamins, kale is considered to possess the highest antioxidant potentials, unlike the other Brassica vegetables. It is noteworthy that S-methylcysteine sulfoxide (MCSO) and glucosinolates are sulfur-containing secondary metabolites found in Brassica crops. Even though these sulfur compounds have medicinal values, yet they contribute to the acrid flavors and bitter taste of this vegetable.
Benefits of Kale
Edible Purposes
Kale can either be consumed raw, cooked, boiled, stir-fried, steamed or blanched. The young tender leaves of this vegetable are mostly consumed by human beings, while the older thicker leaves are fed to animals or used in feed production. Kale can be used for preparing assorted food such as soups, vegetable yam, fillings of pastries, side dishes, wraps, smoothies and juices.
Kale is a rich source of dietary fibre and sulfur, thus suitable for detoxifying and eradicating toxic substances from the body.
Anti-cancer Activity
Kale is a rich source of essential phytochemicals such as glucosinolates, which offer cancer-preventive effects.
Anti-inflammatory Effect
Kale exhibits anti-inflammatory effect, thus suitable for fighting against autoimmune disorders, arthritis and asthma.
Maintenance of Healthy Bone
Being an excellent source of calcium, a regular consumption of kale is essential for maintaining a healthy bone, preventing osteoporosis and preventing bone loss. The rich vitamin C content in kale also makes it effective for maintaining joint and cartilage flexibility.
Recommended for Good Vision
Kale is an excellent source of Vitamin A, thus highly recommended for good vision.
Boosts the Immune System
Due to the high level of vitamin C in kale, its regular consumption is highly recommended for boosting the immune system.
This post is for enlightenment purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional diagnostic and treatments. Remember to always consult your healthcare provider before making any health-related decisions or for counselling, guidance and treatment about a specific medical condition.
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