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Kale

This article is part of a larger article titled "100+ Healthiest Foods On Planet Earth."  Read it here.

Kale Nutritional Information (per 100g)

Water: 84 g
Calories: 49 kcal
Protein: 4.3 g
Carbohydrate: 8.8 g
Dietary fiber: 3.6 g
Sugars: 2.3 g
Fat: 0.9 g
Saturated fat: 0.1 g
Monounsaturated fat: 0.1 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.3 g
Vitamin C: 120 mg
Vitamin B1: 0.1 mg
Vitamin B2: 0.1 mg
Vitamin B3: 1 mg
Vitamin B6: 0.3 mg
Vitamin B9: 141 μg
Vitamin A: 500 μg
Vitamin E: 1.5 mg
Vitamin K: 704.8 μg
Calcium: 150 mg
Iron: 1.5 mg
Magnesium: 47 mg
Phosphorus: 92 mg
Potassium: 491 mg
Sodium: 38 mg
Zinc: 0.6 mg

Those of you who have read anything about nutrition over the past few years have almost certainly heard of kale. And if you’re looking for an article that attempts to brand kale as anything less than a great addition to the diets of most people, you’re out of luck.

A member of the brassica family (a family of foods you should certainly include in your diet, even if you hate kale), kale is a nutritional powerhouse that almost anyone can benefit from eating.

Kale is an extremely nutrient dense food, in fact, it has a claim on being the most nutrient dense food (per gram) on the planet.

Firstly, kale is supremely high in vitamin K. The USDA database lists raw kale as having 880% of your daily value (DV) in just 100g of kale (cooked kale has 1021%!). Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting and bone health. Secondly, raw kale has extremely high levels of vitamin C (200% DV), a vitamin vital to connective tissue.

High levels of vitamin K and vitamin C are, of course, not particularly special in a member of the brassica family. What is special is the sheer amount of these nutrients in just 100g and 49 calories. Kale has, quite frankly, more vitamin K than you could ever need, and this list of foods rich in vitamin C shows that Kale is behind only peppers and foods eaten commonly in small amounts, like chives.

The nutritional benefits don’t stop there though. Three minerals that many people are deficient in are calcium, magnesium and potassium. 100g of raw kale contains 15%, 11% and 14% DV respectively for each of these.

Calcium is of course vital for bone health and plays a role in a number of reactions in the body. It is one of the few minerals we need in reasonably large amounts (1000mg/ day). Magnesium is essential to exercise recovery and may even help protect against blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. Finally, potassium has been associated with lower risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

As with most brassicas, the effects of kale go far beyond the nutritional values, however. The benefits of the unique anti-cancer compounds found in brassicas are powerful, and backed up by scientific evidence.

Another great benefit of Kale is that it contains compounds that benefit the health of your eye. Two compounds that are particularly important for the health of your eye are lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which are found in huge quantities in kale: this list of foods high in lutein and zeaxanthin puts kale right at the top, with 23.7mg per cup of cooked kale. In fact, lutein and zeaxanthin are thought to protect against two of the most common eye disorders, cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.

Finally, kale contains 4.3g of protein per 100g, making it a great vegan and vegetarian source of protein.