(NaturalHealth365) Skeptics question, “is kale really that good for you?” With a resounding “yes”, kale is actually one of the world’s most health-promoting superfoods. Yet, sadly, if you did a search at the American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen or any other conventional resource (online) – you’ll find nothing on the health benefits of kale. Why?
While cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts have long been studied for their anticancer compounds, the vast health benefits of kale put it at the top of the list as a potent cancer preventive.
Clinically proven to offer widespread immunoregulartory effects, kale contains a myriad of compounds that have been shown to help stop the conversion of certain lesions to cancerous cells. As a result of these combined compounds, kale has been shown to prevent and fight against cancers such as breast, prostate, oral, colorectal, kidney and esophageal.
Studies show kale enhances immune function and prevents cancer growth
The immune-enhancing and anticancer health benefits of kale are a result of several compounds such as indoles including di-indolemethane (DIM) and indole-3-carbinol (I3C) plus isothiocyanates, derived from glucosinolates.
Isothiocyanates, in kale, were first observed to reduce activation of carcinogens while increasing their detoxification according to Chinese researchers who published their findings in a 2009 review in the journal, Nature. Since then, dozens of studies have focused on understanding which target tissues these compounds act on to assist in developing human trials and to determine therapeutic anticancer dosage ranges.
How does eating kale support the ‘front-line’ of the immune system?
Immunoglobulin A or IgA is an antibody that is responsible for maintaining and enhancing the integrity of the mucosal lining of the gastrointestinal, respiratory and genitourinary tracts. When IgA is deficient, this first line of defense becomes penetrable allowing microbial invaders and other proteins to easily pass into the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, other tissues throughout the body can become compromised leading to atypical cellular division.
By protecting IgA and therefore the mucosal lining, probiotic and prebiotic balance is maintained as a frontline defense to disease. So, eat your kale to improve digestion and nutrient absorption.
What is the best way to eat kale?
Steaming and dehydrating kale are two popular, nutrient-rich methods of getting more of this leafy superfood into your diet. Steaming and boiling kale has actually been shown to increase its therapeutic properties more than if you consume it raw.
If you choose to make a fresh salad from any type of kale, allow it to come to room temperature before eating and even consider tossing in garlic to enhance enzymatic activity. Rub a high quality oil such as organic coconut oil onto the leaves to activate these helpful enzymes – this activity will help release its immune-enhancing properties for optimized absorption. (Plus, it’s delicious!)
Current research continues to focus on isolating therapeutic compounds from kale (described above) to determine human dosage as well as observe the effects of differing types of kale on immunity and cancer specifically as a regular dietary staple. But, instead of waiting for more research, I encourage everyone to start eating more dark, leafy green vegetables like, kale, collard greens and Swiss chard. The reward is worth the effort.
About the author: Christine M. Dionese L.Ac, MSTOM is an integrative health expert, medical journalist and food writer. She’s dedicated her career to helping others understand the science of happiness and its powerful effects on everyday human health. Christine practices, writes and speaks on environmental functional medicine, personalized medicine and epigenetics, food science and sustainable living.