Are you hesitant to jump on the kale train? You know, that prehistoric looking green that has surged in popularity in recent years? We often hear kale being referred to as one of nature’s superfoods and it certainly qualifies, as it is packed full of health promoting benefits.
Nutrient and antioxidant rich, nature must have created kale with runners in mind. Consuming kale regularly may help runners boost performance as well as endurance, and we can show you how to sneak it into your diet if this leafy green’s spongey texture or deep earthy flavor has you feeling a little apprehensive. Once you incorporate kale into your diet, your body will show its gratitude as you reap these benefits:
- Packed with nutrient rich phytochemicals, kale is loaded with calcium, lutein, vitamin C, A, E, and K, in addition to tons of beta carotene. Also loaded with fiber, it is superior to most other vegetables!
- According to One Green Planet, just one cup of kale is only 35 calories, and it includes over 1000% of your daily recommended vitamin K, an antioxidant that promotes bone growth and regulates blood clotting. Kale’s vitamin K content surpasses that of broccoli, spinach, and collard greens.
- Each calorie of kale has more iron than beef, more calcium than milk, and it is absorbed more efficiently by the body in comparison to dairy as well.
- Full of flavonoids, kale can help alleviate inflammation and oxidative stress in the body. Kale can actually help reduce swelling and it also contains Omega-3 fatty acids, which help prevent further inflammation that is usually caused by autoimmune diseases, arthritis, and even asthma!
Now that you know more about this amazing leafy green, the big question remains: How to incorporate kale into your diet when its texture or taste isn’t exactly your favorite? Typically, kale is mild in flavor with only a hint of bitterness. This remarkable green can be prepared in many ways, including some recipes that completely enhance or even mask its flavor.
Try these recipes and take advantage of kale’s amazing benefits:
- Try kale blended in a smoothie, and you won’t even know it’s in there! Super easy and totally customizable to suit your taste, try blending a banana, a ½ cup water, a handful of kale, a handful of frozen fruit like strawberries or blueberries, and a few ice cubes. You can add more or less of each as you experiment and determine what you like best. Frozen pineapple is also a great fruit to add when you really want to overpower the taste of the kale. Yum!
- Looking for a crispy snack to nosh on? Try some homemade kale chips. These crunchy, addictive chips will have the whole family asking for more. They are also super easy to make right in your oven.
- On the go, but looking for a quick and convenient energy boost? Stop in at Jamba Juice, and enjoy their Great Greens fresh squeezed juice. It contains a power punch of apples, cucumbers, kale, spinach, lemons, and chia seeds. Consumed this way, you will get the full antioxidant potential of kale out of the carotenoids it contains, which benefits both your eyes and skin. Delicious!
- Want to have this powerhouse green accompany your dinner? Try this steamy, side dish recipe. According to Mensfitness.com, when kale is steamed before it is consumed, it offers cholesterol-lowering benefits as well.
- Kale is so versatile, it makes a great addition to soup. It softens right up, offers a robust flavor to broth, and compliments lentils, beans, and even potatoes. Treat your taste buds to something special with this Vegetarian Kale Soup recipe:
In addition to all of the exceptional health benefits mentioned here, it would be neglectful not to mention that kale is also a notable favorite for boosting heart health. It’s antioxidants protect the heart against wear and tear, and its vitamins help to lower the body’s blood pressure, strengthen the heart muscle, and improve circulation. It’s also an amazing body detoxifier. The fiber in kale bonds to toxins in the body and prevents them from being absorbed. As a bonus, when you detoxify your body with kale, you free up your immune system to focus on foreign invaders that seek to do your body harm. Rich in vitamin C, also kale boosts the body’s immune system and ability to ward off those invaders.
What are you waiting for? Introduce some kale into your diet; as a runner, you really can’t afford not to!