Here's What Happens When You Eat Kale Every Day

Kale is hailed as a superfood, and considered to be one of the most nutrient-rich vegetables in the world — even healthier in some respects than spinach (via Boston Magazine). It's commonplace in salads and smoothies, and often turned to by people doing a cleanse or going on a diet. There's some question about whether kale contains more nutrients when it is raw or cooked, and the answer is a bit murky. Studies have shown that if you're eating kale in hopes of it bringing down your cholesterol levels, the best way to eat it is steamed (via The Washington Post). On the other hand, if eat kale because you think that the antioxidants will help to ward off cancer, you're better off eating it raw.

But what exactly happens to the bodies of all those people who are going on kale-heavy diets? 

You'll get your full daily recommended value of three vitamins

If you eat kale on a daily basis, you'll be getting your daily recommended value of three important vitamins (via Healthline). A 1-cup serving of raw kale will provide you 206 percent of the daily recommended value of vitamin A, 134 percent of the daily recommended value of vitamin C, and an incredible 684 percent of the daily recommended value of vitamin K. Given the fact that the same amount of kale contains only 33 calories, it's one of the most efficient ways to take in these vitamins that are essential for body function. 

Vitamin C is known as an immune system booster, but also is important for wound healing and for healthy teeth, tissue, and gums. Vitamin A is essential in forming health teeth and bones, as well as maintaining the muscles and skin. Vitamin K is thought to help with bone health and blood coagulation (via Medline Plus).

Your antioxidant intake will surge

When people talk about cancer-fighting or cancer-preventing foods, it's a bit of a lofty claim. Typically what they mean is that the food in question is full of antioxidants.

Antioxidants are tiny substances that work to prevent cell damage by free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can wreak havoc on the body (via Medical News Today). Free radicals, which can be introduced into the body by smoking, consumption of processed foods, radiation, environmental pollution, or exposure to chemicals, can accelerate the aging process, harm cells and body function, and even lead to cancer. Antioxidants can help to protect against this type of damage.

As with other green leafy vegetables, kale is high in antioxidants such as quercetin and kaempferol. However, these antioxidants don't just work against free radicals. These two substances can also lower blood pressure and inflammation.

Your cholesterol levels will decrease

Cholesterol plays an important role in the human body and comes in two types. High-density cholesterol is thought to be the good kind, whereas low-density cholesterol is thought to be the bad type.

A healthy intake of kale both lowers the bad cholesterol, as well as raises the good cholesterol. A study found that drinking kale juice on a daily basis for three months increased HDL (good) cholesterol by 27 percent, and at the same time it lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol by 10 percent.

Kale proves to be particularly useful when it comes to cholesterol regulation when it's steamed. In fact, kale is thought to be nearly half as effective as an actual drug prescribed to lower cholesterol called cholestyramine. While "half as effective" might not sound like a lot, it's pretty remarkable considering the fact that kale came from the ground, while cholestyramine came from a lab.

You won't lack minerals that the general public lacks

Studies have found that many people who have a typical western diet are deficient in a number of nutrients that are vital for healthy bodily function. For example, nearly 50 percent of the country doesn't get enough magnesium in their diet (via Healthline). This is an issue because the mineral is vital for maintaining healthy teeth and bones. It's also important for the body to regulate enzyme reactions. Lack of magnesium has also been associated with type 2 diabetes.

While it seems that calcium shouldn't pose a problem given its inclusion in so many dairy products, Americans are also lacking in calcium intake. A study found that less than 15 percent of teenage girls, less than 10 percent of women older than 50, and less than 22 percent of men older than 50 and teenage boys get enough calcium in their diets. Calcium is important for all cells of the body but it's particularly crucial for bone and tooth health.

One cup of kale provides 9 percent of the daily recommended value of calcium, and 6 percent of the daily recommended value magnesium. For vegans, kale is a good choice for calcium intake given the fact that many calcium sources are typically from animal products like cheese and dairy.