Summer is a wonderful time for harvesting fresh fruits and vegetables from your garden or buying locally-grown produce from small businesses near your home. But even as summer winds down, there are still some superfoods available to grace your table and boost your health routine.
Kale is a popular superfood that is packed with healthy vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A and K. Its antioxidant properties are extremely high, even when compared to other fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants have the ability to neutralize free radicals in the body, which reduces cell aging and death.
Kale has been compared to beef in part because of its high iron content. It also contains more calcium per serving than milk, and its calcium may be more digestible by the body than that present in dairy foods.
Just a few of the specific conditions that kale may have the ability to improve are:
- Diabetes: Kale's high fiber and low glycemic index are great properties for diabetics. The American Diabetes Association lists kale as a diabetes superfood (Diabetes Superfoods).
- Heart disease: Kale may help lower bad cholesterol (LDL), improving heart health (Soo Yeon KIMa, 2008).
- Constipation: Kale is high in both fiber and water, both of which are helpful in keeping the gastrointestinal tract moving along normally.
Kale is delicious in a salad, baked until it's crunchy (kale chips), or made into a BKT (bacon, kale, and tomato) sandwich. You can also combine it with other nutritional powerhouses like blueberries to make a delicious, healthful smoothie (see our recipe below).
All superfoods have outstanding health benefits, and blueberries are at the top of the superfood pack. Blueberries are:
- Low calorie, high fiber: Blueberries can help you feel fuller without introducing loads of calories into your diet.
- Hydrating: Containing about 85% water, blueberries are a great way to increase your fluid intake.
- Antioxidating: Blueberries are among the fruits and vegetables with the highest antioxidant ability (Kelly L. Wolfe†§, 2008). That means that free radicals, which are harmful to your body and cause cell destruction, aging, and disease, can be neutralized by blueberries.
- Heart protective: Scientists have studied blueberries extensively, and they believe that the fruit can help lower blood pressure, protect the heart from the ill effects of LDL cholesterol (the "bad" kind), and decrease the risk of heart attacks (Cassidy A1, 2013).
- Brain protective: The antioxidant ability of blueberries can protect brain cells from the aging effects of free radicals in the body. This can lead to a decrease in the development of conditions like dementia (ROBERT KRIKORIAN, 2010).
- Anti-diabetic: Studies done on blueberries in relation to insulin sensitivity indicate that they can increase the body's response to insulin and lower blood sugar levels (April J. Stull, 2010).
These are only some of the possible health benefits of blueberries: superfood indeed!
Blueberries can be enjoyed in so many ways: fresh on your cereal or yogurt, by the handful as snacks throughout the day, or combined with other healthy foods, like kale, into a super-healthy, super-nutrient-packed, superfood dynamite smoothie (see our favorite recipe below).
In addition to regular nutrients like vitamins and minerals, kale and blueberries contain phytonutrients. These are special compounds in plants that are useful for important tasks like fighting off bacterial, viral, and fungal infections. There are over 10,000 known phytonutrients, and they not only help plants stay healthy, but they are usable by our human bodies when we ingest them. These special compounds help our cells work better and strengthen our immune systems.
Among the dozens of phytonutrients that kale contains are quercetin and kaempferol (Olsen H1, 2009). These substances are both powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.
Blueberries contain many phytonutrients as well, including resveratrol and anthocyanins (this is a group of phytonutrients, rather than just one). These substances have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties as well.
Healthy Blueberry and Kale Smoothie Recipe
If you're looking for a way to pack the power of both kale and blueberries into one delicious recipe, we have a great one for you. Smoothies are wonderful ways to fit nutrients and phytonutrients into your daily diet quickly and deliciously. Our "Healthy Blueberry and Kale Smoothie Recipe" not only allows you to experience the superfood benefits of blueberries and kale, but it also sneaks in some healthy spices. The inclusion of turmeric gives the smoothie a delicious earthy flavor while providing the anti- inflammatory, antioxidant, and other benefits of this amazing spice. To learn more about turmeric and its many positive health values, visit turmeric.com.
- April J. Stull, K. C. (2010, Aug. 19). Retrieved from The Journal of Nutrition: DOI: 10.3945/jn.110.125336
- Cassidy A1, M. K. (2013, Jan. 15). High Anthocyanin Intake Is Associated With a Reduced Risk of Myocardial Infarction in Young and Middle-Aged Women. Retrieved from American Heart Association: circahajournals.org: DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.112.122408
- Diabetes Superfoods. (n.d.). Retrieved from American Diabetes Association
- Kelly L. Wolfe†§, X. K. (2008, Aug. 30). Retrieved from Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: DOI: 10.1021/jf801381y
- Olsen H1, A. K. (2009, April 8). Characterization and quantification of flavonoids and hydroxycinnamic acids in curly kale (Brassica oleracea L. Convar. acephala Var. sabellica) by HPLC-DAD-ESI-MSn. Retrieved from Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: DOI: 10.1021/jf803693t
- ROBERT KRIKORIAN, *. M.-T.-H. (2010, Jan. 4). Retrieved from Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: DOOI: 10.1021/jf9029332