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Surprising Science

Kale: The Anti-Cancer Vegetable

Nutritionists say kale—a vegetable in the Brassica family along with broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage—is full of vitamins and antioxidants that help to prevent cancer. 

What’s the Latest Development?

Nutritionists increasingly recognize kalea vegetable in the Brassica family along with broccoli, cauliflower and cabbageas an important part of a healthy diet, especially one aimed at preventing cancer. “Brassica vegetables are known to help with general health as well as heart disease and cancer, but even among this group kale stands out,” says Cheryl Harris of Harris Whole Health. Known for its tough texture and piquant taste, kale has the broadest range of antioxidants and also the highest levels of Vitamin K and a type of Vitamin E that seems to be heart-healthy.

What’s the Big Idea?

While kale may be something of a wonder-food, any healthy diet will include a balance of different food groups. Deirdre Orceyre, a naturopathic physician at the Center for Integrative Medicine at George Washington University, says kale “can be hard on the digestive system”—meaning it can cause bloating, gas and other abdominal issues—”and also contains a compound that can suppress thyroid function in certain people.” Orceyre recommends not eating the vegetable uncooked more than once or twice a week and buying organic when possible, due to surface chemicals caused by pesticides.

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