If you’re following the keto diet, then you might be interested to know about the health benefits of kale and spinach for keto. These two leafy greens are some of the best low carb vegetables out there.
Aside from being low-carb, they have both been called superfoods as they are loaded with health promoting nutrients. Let’s see how they can benefit your keto diet.
Health Benefits Of Kale
Kale is a great source of pro-vitamin A, C, and B6. In fact it has the highest amount of beta-carotene of all leafy veg which can be converted to Vitamin A in your body if needed. It’s also an excellent source of Vitamin K1, an important nutrient that helps to prevent blood clotting. In addition, kale contains calcium and copper.
As one of the most popular vegetables to help you lose weight, kale is a nutrient dense food that’s loaded with powerful antioxidants. These antioxidants can help to lower blood pressure, counteract free radicals, reduce inflammation, and could possibly treat depression.
Related reading: How A Keto Diet Can Boost Your Mood
It’s also packed with isothiocyanates, natural plant chemicals, that help to boost your body’s detoxifying power by inducing phase 2 liver detox enzymes. This compound also helps to protect you against some cancers.
Since kale is a good source of Vitamin K, it can help to minimize stress and skin aging and may help to control symptoms of cold and cough.
Given the many health benefits of kale, it’s clear to see why it’s one of the best vegetables to add to your diet, especially if you’re following low carb diets like keto. In fact, Dr. Mercola considers kale as a “hidden superfood”.
“Kale Contains ALL the Essential Amino Acids and 9 Non-Essential Ones”
Health Benefits of Kale for Keto
Having only 3 grams of net carbs per serving, kale is one of those vegetables that won’t kick you out of ketosis. Aside from having very low net carbs, the vegetable is also loaded with the alkaline minerals potassium and magnesium. Good for the Keto-Alkaline Diet.
When you’re on the keto diet, there’s a good chance that you’ll have deficiencies of these electrolytes since you could initially lose a lot of water weight. One of the best ways to replenish these electrolytes is to eat lots of kale.
Potassium and magnesium are two minerals that are also very important for the proper functioning of our body. If you’re on keto or other diets that restrict carbs, it’s very important that you keep track of these minerals in order to avoid mineral deficiencies.
Kale is high in fiber so is great for preventing constipation that some people get when eating a low carb diet.
Kale and your thyroid
You may have seen or heard some negative comments about kale online or in the media about it being bad for your thyroid and be worried about eating it. Kale, along with other brassicas like cabbage, Brussels sprouts, arugula, bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, mustard greens, and watercress contains goitrogens, substances that may contribute to an enlarged thyroid.
Goitrogens can interfere with the uptake of iodine, a mineral needed for the manufacture of thyroid hormones. They are inactivated to a certain extend by cooking.
However, Dr Leung, an endocrinologist and Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA, and Chair of the Public Health Committee at the American Thyroid Association has stated:
In usual amounts, kale consumption is healthy and should not be avoided, in contrast to some media reports which caution against all ingestion of cruciferous vegetables to promote thyroid health.
Nutrition Profile of Spinach
Spinach is a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the same family as quinoa and beets. It’s very healthy, thanks to its antioxidants and various other nutrients.
If you compare it with kale, spinach is a better source of magnesium, iron, and manganese. It’s also a great source of folate, a vitamin that’s essential for pregnant women as it helps to prevent birth defects.
In addition, spinach is also good for diabetes since it helps to lower glucose level while improving the body’s insulin sensitivity. Spinach has a high content of potassium nitrate which can be converted to nitric oxide. This has an effect on your blood vessels causing them to relax increasing blood flow and lowering blood pressure.
Related reading: How Does a Keto Diet Balance Blood Sugar?
Weight loss effects of spinach
Spinach is also one of those vegetables that is ideal for weight loss. Having only 23 calories and 1.4 grams of carbs for every 100-gram serving, this vegetable can make you feel less hungry, which prevents unnecessary cravings.
The vegetable is high in thylakoid content, which slows down gastric emptying and regulates the hormones responsible for hunger and satiety.
Indeed, spinach is definitely one of the healthiest vegetables out there. Dr. Lydia Bazzano, a nutrition expert at Tulane University’s School of Public Health, has this to say about spinach:
“It’s been shown to help decrease the incidence of cardiovascular disease, heart disease and stroke, primarily. They’re also really healthy foods to eat because they have a relatively low-calorie content and a lot of nutrients in them”.
Why Spinach is Good for Keto
As you see, spinach has an excellent macronutrient profile, which is why it’s one of those vegetables that are worth adding to your ketogenic lifestyle. In fact, this vegetable is particularly suitable for low carb diets like keto.
Compared to kale, spinach is a much better source of potassium and magnesium. As mentioned above, it’s important that you replenish your body with these minerals when following low carb diets like keto.
And since spinach helps you to easily feel full longer, it can prevent you from overeating and helps you to easily achieve your weight loss goals.
Related reading: 5 Bad Weight Loss Habits That Can Sabotage Your Efforts
How to Add Kale and Spinach to your Keto Diet
Now that you know about the health benefits of kale and spinach, it should be clear by now why you should try to include these vegetables in your diet. As a matter of fact, leafy green vegetables are considered a healthy centerpiece for a keto diet.
They provide antioxidants and important micronutrients to help you stay healthy. Also these vegetables have a good amount of fiber and water content with very low carbohydrate count. So even if you eat a lot of these vegetables, you won’t be kicked out of ketosis.
Thankfully, adding kale and spinach to your keto diet is so easy. You can consume them raw in salads like this Kale Ceasar Salad or add them as ingredients in some keto-friendly recipes. These vegetables can also be used as fillings for sandwiches or added to smoothies. In fact, kale and spinach are two of the most popular ingredients used in making low carb keto green smoothies.
There are lots of recipes online that you can use as inspiration for incorporating kale and spinach to your low carb diet. A simple way to cook them is to saute them in avocado or coconut oil along with some cloves of garlic. You can also steam them and eat as sidings or add to soups.
Remember that although the ketogenic diet is all about consuming more fats and less of carbs, you should also make sure to include veggies into your diet. Vegetables, especially the leafy greens like kale and spinach, are loaded with nutrients that can benefit your health in many ways. If you’ll take advantage of the immense health benefits of kale and spinach, you’ll not only lose weight fast but you’ll also stay strong and healthy at the same time!