Kale is a powerhouse green leafy vegetable, loaded with nutrients.  It’s high in fiber and low in calories.  This supergreen contains potent antioxidants to help protect against cancer and is a great anti-inflammatory.  In addition, kale can support cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol levels.  And, as if that’s not enough, this cruciferous wonder also encourages detoxification, not only because of its fiber content, but it’s also high in sulfur. Here are more specifics on the health benefits of this vibrantly green vegetable delight, as well as a “kalelicious” recipe to follow.

Does eating kale benefit brain function in any way? Yes.  It contains manganese, a trace mineral that helps manufacture fatty acids, which are important to brain function.  It also contains Vitamin K, a nutrient that can help prevent nerve damage in the brain and reduce the chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

How does kale help lower the risk of depression? Kale contains l-tyrosine, an amino acid, which is responsible for synthesizing two neurotransmitters in the brain: dopamine and norepinephrine.  These neurotransmitters help to elevate mood, improve memory, and promote critical thinking that can reduce stress caused by multi-tasking.

Can kale help lower the risk of diabetes? Again, kale is high in fiber and low on the glycemic index, which helps to effectively regulate blood sugar levels. This is because the glucose is broken down more slowly, giving your body small doses at a time.

Does kale have any skin-related benefits? Absolutely!  It contains vitamins A and C, which help form collage.  Collagen prevents wrinkles and keeps the skin firm.  As stated previously, kale is also high in Vitamin K, a nutrient that improves skin elasticity and diminishes the appearance of dark circles under the eyes.  In addition, it contains antioxidants that help protect your skin from free radical damage.  The vitamin C in kale boosts your immune system and helps keep you well-hydrated, making your skin appear young and supple.

How often should we eat kale to reap its many benefits? Kale should be consumed on a regular basis, but it’s always important to remember to get a variety of foods in your diet.  Other leafy green vegetables also have some of these same properties, so it’s beneficial to rotate your foods.

 Kale Salad Recipe

 Serves 4

1 cup cooked, cubed butternut squash

2 bunches dinosaur kale, sliced thinly with ribs removed

½ cup almonds, roughly chopped

½ cup crumbled or finely chopped cheddar cheese (parmesan will also work here) OR 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast powder (or 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes)

Extra-virgin olive oil (approximately 4 tablespoons)

Fresh lemon juice (approximately 2 tablespoons)

Salt and pepper

Put kale, chopped almonds, cheese (or nutritional yeast), and squash in a large mixing bowl.  Pour lemon juice and olive oil over ingredients and combine thoroughly.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Divide salad between four plates and serve.