Kale: Health Benefits, Types, Diet, & Side-effects

Kale is a popular leafy cruciferous vegetable, a member of the Brassicaceae  (cabbage) family. It has almost 84-85% water, 9% carbohydrates, 4% protein, 1% fat.

It is a superfood containing various nutrients namely: Vitamin B6, Vitamin A, Vitamin K (at 3.7 times the daily value), Vitamin C, folate.
Dietary minerals like Iron, Manganese, Copper, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium.

Types of Kale

Kale leaves are usually edible but can be ornamental too sometimes. Among edible leaves various types are observed:

  • Curly Kale: The edges of the leaves are curly, they have a dark green shade, thick ruffled, and sturdy leaves.
  • Dinosaur Kale/Tuscan Kale: It has long, delicate leaves. Tastes less sour compared to curly kale.
  • Purple Kale: It has a distinct purple stem and leaves, it tastes sweeter when cooked.       
  • Ornamental: Colorful, tougher leaves, non-edible.   

Which is more healthy spinach or kale?
One can’t really compare between these as both are nutritionally very rich. Kale contains almost twice the amount of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, water 84%, whereas spinach contains a quality amount of Vitamin K and Iron. Both of them help with weight loss, heart disease, etc.

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Benefits of Kale  

Lately, Kale became popular as it can be used for skincare and weight loss, other uses including curing diabetes, blood pressure, etc.

  • Weight loss: Being nutrient-rich it has a very low-calorie content. It can be consumed in bulk for a stomach full meal containing water, proteins, and fibers which aid weight loss. It acts as a low-density energy meal. 
  • Skin Care: Kale contains beta carotene which helps convert vitamin A in the body. This helps maintenance and growth of skin tissues, hair. Having a high content of Vitamin C which maintains body collagen essential for the structuring of skin and hair.  
  • Eye Health: The lutein and zeaxanthin, an antioxidant combination, reduces eye aging and retains eye health and eyesight by lowering macular degeneration and cataracts.  
  • Diabetes: Dietary fibers present in it help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Controls Sugar level: The presence of antioxidants such as vitamin C, alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) helps control sugar levels in the blood.
  • Heart Disease and Cholesterol: Kale contains fiber that lowers the level of cholesterol. This controls blood pressure levels and lowers blood lipid levels.
    High potassium reduces the level risk of high blood pressure. Bile acid sequestrants ie. additives improve food quality, lowers the level of cholesterol. This reduces the level of heart risks.
    Consuming it alternate days can help maintain these factors which can cause heart attack, vein blockage as the cholesterol collects in the veins.
  • Cancer-Fighting: Cancer is a fatal disease caused by the uncontrolled multiplication of cells that may or may not migrate to other organs causing their deterioration. Being green kale contains chlorophyll which does not allow the binding of carcinogenic compounds ie. does not allow the heterocyclic amines to be absorbed by the blood.
    The human body cannot produce or absorb much chlorophyll; the little amount from such leafy green vegetables becomes very helpful. It contains complex compounds like sulforaphane which does not allow cancer cell formation at the molecular level.
    Antioxidants like selenium are considered to prevent cancer; along with indole-3-carbinol which is believed to cure cancer too.  
  • Bone health: Due to a quality amount of calcium and phosphorus it helps in bone formation. This reduces the risk of bone fracture.  
  • Digestion: It helps reduce constipation and promotes healthy digestion.  

How to include Kale in Diet?

Kale can be included in the diet in various ways

  • It can be consumed raw as in sandwiches, salads. They are also easy to digest.
  • Smoothies: Can be used as an ingredient in smoothies, it does not change the flavor much.
  • As Chips: It can be tossed in oil and can be consumed as chips, or can be baked and consumed.
  • Side Dish: It can be cooked and sauteed with garlic and consumed.
  • Soup: Adding its leaves to the soup and boiling them.  

Is Kale more nutritious when cooked or raw??
Uncooked or raw kale is considered more nutritious, as on boiling the nutrients get lost as they are water-soluble. Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K values are reduced on boiling.  

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What are the Side Effects of Kale?

Excessive consumption of kale on a regular basis can have some drawbacks.

  • Kidney Damage: Due to a good content of minerals like potassium, people who do not fully functional kidneys must not consume too much kale as it may turn out harmful interrupting infiltration process and stone formation. An excess amount of potassium in the blood is fatal.
  • Blood Thinning: Due to the presence of a high amount of Vitamin K, it can interfere with the blood clotting mechanism of the body. The functions of anticoagulants like Heparin can be disturbed.  
  • People who take beta-blockers prescribed by doctors should consult before including it in their diet.
  • Thyroid: Having too much kale or every day can lead to interference in the functioning of various hormones that regulate the iodine amounts in the body. This causes your underactive thyroid to become active.


Ques. Which parts of Kale are edible?
Ans. Kale leaves are usually eaten raw or cooked. But for the stems, are usually not eaten raw as they taste very bitter, and are sturdy. The stems can be boiled or cooked to be softened.   

Ques. How long should we cook it?
Ans. It can be cooked for 2 to 5 mins maximum. It can also be boiled and simmered for like 5 mins after being chopped.  

Ques. Can Kale be frozen? Does it still remain nutritionally variable?
Ans. It can be frozen for storage purposes. It still will have the same nutritional content as before. Freezing retains the freshness of kale while storing.  

Ques. Does Kale help in body detoxification?
Ans. It is a superfood and very nutrient-rich. It has various phytonutrients like sulforaphane which move to the liver stimulating the body’s detox power.  

Ques. Can Kale help lose belly fat?
Ans. Yes, it can help lose belly fat as it has lower calories which do not add to the present calories. Also, it has fat-burning capabilities.  

Ques. Is Kale helpful in anti-aging and glowing skin?
Ans. Yes, it contains Vitamin C which helps collagen formation helps the skin to glow, remain plump and soft. It does not directly help with anti-aging but antioxidants present in kale maintain the skin tone. Eating green and leafy vegetables is always beneficial for skincare.  

Ques. Does Kale provide immunity?
Ans. It is loaded with Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B, Antioxidants these help fight infections, and the regeneration of other elements required to fight germs and viruses. This helps in increasing immunity.  

Among all the green leafy vegetables kale can be considered to be highly nutritious. Even though it has a slightly sour taste; it can be overlooked by the numerous health benefits it provides.

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