Research-backed reasons why your leafy green main squeeze is here to stay

By Huffington Post Healthy Living Editors
Updated: August 07, 2013

Our love of kale is no secret. But even though it's the hottest vegetable on the scene, many of its more healthful attributes remain a mystery to the general public.

Here are five backed-up-by data reasons why your main green squeeze could (and should) be here to stay-and one important fact to remember:

1. It has more vitamin C than an orange. One cup of chopped kale has 134 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C, while a medium orange fruit has 113 percent of the daily C requirement. That's particularly noteworthy because a cup of kale weighs just 67 grams, while a medium orange weighs 131 grams. In other words? Gram for gram, kale has more than twice the vitamin C as an orange.

RELATED: The Best-Tasting Green Juices

2. It's...kind of fatty (in a good way!). We don't typically think of our greens as sources of even healthful fats. But kale is actually a great source of alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), which is a type of omega-3 fatty acid that's essential for brain health, reduces Type 2 diabetes risk, and boots heart health as well. Each cup has 121mg of ALA, according to Drew Ramsey's book 50 Shades of Kale.

3. It might be the queen of vitamin A. Kale has 133 percent of a person's daily vitamin A requirement-more than any other leafy green.

4. Kale even beats milk in the calcium department. It's worth noting that kale has 150mg of calcium per 100 grams, while milk has 125mg.

5. It's better with a friend. Kale has plenty of phytonutrients, such as quercetin, which helps combat inflammation and prevent arterial plaque formation, and sulforaphane, a cancer-fighting compound. But many of its top health-promoting compounds are rendered more effective when you eat the stuff in combination with another food. Pair kale with fats like avocado, olive oil, or even parmesan to make fat-soluble carotenoids more available to the body. And acid from lemon juice helps make kale's iron more bioavailable as well.

RELATED: 10 New Ways to Eat Kale

6. The leafy green is more likely to be 'dirty.' According to the Environmental Working Group, kale is one of the most likely crops to have residual pesticides. The organization recommends choosing organic kale (or growing it yourself!).

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