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The Benefits of Kale

Kale is a highly nutritious food with powerful antioxidants. It is also an anti-inflammatory. At our eye care practice, we put a big emphasis on educating our patients about the importance of green, leafy vegetables, including, spinach, kale and collard greens. You can buy kale at most grocery stores near the lettuce section.

Kale is very high in beta-carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein and zeaxanthin as well as rich in Calcium. Even if you don’t know much about nutrition, you can see that this green leafy veggie is packed full of essential nutrients needed in our diet everyday! But let’s discuss what all this means, and what each of these are good for:

Beta carotene: This essential vitamin can be converted into vitamin. This serves a vital role in eye health. As you may have guessed, Beta carotene can be found in carrots. But it can also be found in mangoes, papayas, sweet potatoes, kale, spinach and collard greens.

Vitamin K: Kale has such a high vitamin K content, that patients taking anticoagulants such as warfarin are encouraged to avoid this food since it increases vitamin K’s concentration in the blood, which is what the drugs are often trying to lower. I recommend consulting your physician if you are taking any of these medications before eating kale regularly as part of your overall diet.

Vitamin C: Everybody knows that vitamin C is essential to an overall healthy diet. Ascorbic Acid (which is another name for Vitamin C) is necessary for collagen to form in bones, cartilage, muscle and blood vessels. Sources include fruits and vegetables, particularly citrus fruits such as oranges.

-Lutein and Zeaxanthin: These are both important for eye health. Studies have suggested that supplementing with both Lutein and Zeaxanthin may lower one’s risk for developing macular degeneration as well as cataracts. Sources include those green leafy vegetables I keep talking about; kale, spinach and collard greens.

-Calcium: We all know that calcium is important for bone health and strength. Now you can add kale to you diet knowing that it is providing you with extra calcium!

I found it to be interesting that kale freezes very well and actually has a sweeter flavor after being frozen. I love to add fresh kale to other mixed greens in all of my salads as well as use kale in all of my soup recipes.

Hopefully now you have a better understanding of what kale is and how it can be used. Happy cooking!

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