Did you know that one of the reasons why some people always have chronic headaches or migraines is because of the deficiency of leafy vegetables in their diet? Nutritionists say that one way of preventing this is to include kales in your diet, the reason being that like other vegetables; they contain magnesium which is capable of keeping such conditions at bay.
On top of that, they say kales still provide the body with all the vitamins needed for good health.
Rene Tabaro, a nutritionist at King Faial Hospital, says kale is among the vegetables that should be a part of one’s diet as they are low in calories, high in fibre and have no fat, thus making it a vital vegetable for consumption as far as eating healthy is concerned.
For instance, he advises to go for the dark green and fresh ones, as they are ideal because they contain water and fibre.
Vitamins, he says, are in abundance and some even help prevent diseases.
“They contain Vitamin B and C which both have iron; these vitamins are essential for the release of energy. Also, it has plenty of vitamin K, which is essential for responding to injuries and regulating blood clots,” he says.
In addition to Vitamin K, Tabaro says that they help transport calcium throughout the body and also aid in bone health, by reducing the risk of fractures.
Because of the presence of calcium, Tabaro notes that kales help support the structure and function of the bones and teeth.
“It’s also necessary for hormone secretion, cellular communication, muscle function, contraction and dilation of the blood vessel and nerve transmission,” he adds.
For health digestive tract, Louise Uwimbabazi, a nutritionist at Clinic Glein in Remera, says the fibre content in kales helps prevent constipation and promotes regularity. And that just like other green leafy vegetables, kales contain calcium, which is a required mineral in the human body.
Uwimbabazi says that kales also contain folate, magnesium and iron. In fact, kales contain iron, which is essential for good health, whereby they help in the formation of haemoglobin and enzymes, as well as transporting oxygen to various parts of the body.
Magnesium also helps reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke; so consumption of kales puts one at a lower risk of getting diabetes because of its presence of magnesium.
Erick Musengimana, a nutritionist at CORUHUM Health Centre Kimisagara, Kigali, says eating a diet high in Vitamin K can help protect against various cancers. It is also necessary for a wide variety of bodily functions including normal bone health and blood clotting.
He further explains the increased levels of these vitamins can help people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
“Kales are abundant with antioxidants, such as carotenoids and flavonoids which help protect against various cancers. They are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help fight against arthritis, asthma and autoimmune disorders,” he says.
He adds that the presence of Vitamin C is very helpful for one’s immune system, metabolism and hydration as well.
HOW TO PREPARE KALES WITHOUT LOSING NUTRIENTS
Tabaro notes that Kales can be prepared in many ways, adding that depending on one’s preference, they should not be overcooked.
“Just like other vegetables that have a lot of nutritional levels, how you prepare kales can dramatically affect the nutrient content. The less time used while being prepared, the more nutrients they retain,” he says.
He advises that one should avoid continuous reheating or overheating, instead, choosing steaming over boiling is the best option. Using little cooking oil keeps you from taking in foods with a lot of oil.
However, when one decides to boil, he advises that retaining the liquid for soups is also important.
Some studies show that steaming kale boosts its cholesterol fighting ability, and retains abundance of chlorophyll, which has been shown to have antioxidant power.
Apart from that, he notes that steaming is also a method of cooking that causes minimal damage to the complex array of compounds that not only lend kale its green flavour, but also retain its taste, making it easier to digest and most importantly, retain all of its nutritional benefits.
“One can add a little onion or garlic or other spices depending on their preferences, steam them for at least five minutes and serve with other foods. In some cases, kales are used in salads and eaten raw,” he says.