Kale ( Brassica oleracea var. acephala) as a superfood: Review of the scientific evidence behind the statement

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2019;59(15):2411-2422. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2018.1454400. Epub 2018 Apr 24.


Kale (Brassica oleracea var. acephala) is a cruciferous vegetable, characterized by leaves along the stem, which, in recent years, have gained a great popularity as a ´superfood´. Consequently, in a popular culture it is listed in many ´lists of the healthiest vegetables´. Without the doubt, a scientific evidences support the fact that cruciferous vegetables included in human diet can positively affect health and well-being, but remains unclear why kale is declared superior in comparison with other cruciferous. It is questionable if this statement about kale is triggered by scientific evidence or by some other factors. Our review aims to bring an overview of kale's botanical characteristics, agronomic requirements, contemporary and traditional use, macronutrient and phytochemical content and biological activity, in order to point out the reasons for tremendous kale popularity.

Keywords: biological activity; cruciferous vegetables; phytochemistry; superfood.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / analysis
  • Antioxidants / analysis
  • Brassica / chemistry*
  • Brassica / growth & development
  • Cardiovascular System / drug effects
  • Cardiovascular System / metabolism
  • Carotenoids / analysis
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Crops, Agricultural
  • Diet
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / drug effects
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / metabolism
  • Glucosinolates / analysis
  • Humans
  • Nutritive Value
  • Phenols / analysis
  • Phytochemicals / analysis
  • Plant Extracts / analysis
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry*
  • Vegetables / chemistry


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Glucosinolates
  • Phenols
  • Phytochemicals
  • Plant Extracts
  • Carotenoids