Kale is very popular these days—and for good reason. Kale is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. Whole Foods gives kale an ANDI score of 1000, the highest of all the green vegetables. Eating this versatile green is like putting a rainforest into your body. Here are some of its benefits:
- It is full of vitamins A and C
- Very high in Vitamin K, necessary for a blood clotting, antioxidant activity, bone health and other bodily functions
- High in iron. I started eating kale many years ago when I was pregnant. My doctor was amazed at the increase in my red blood cells.
- Kale has high levels of antioxidants, particularly carotenoids and flavonoids which help reduce chronic inflammation.
- Kale is full of sulphur based nutrients which reduce the risk of cancer.
- Kale has special compounds (ITC’s) that help the body’s detoxification process.
- The fiber in kale binds with bile acids in the digestive tract to be excreted. This helps lower cholesterol levels.
- Kale is a good source of the minerals calcium, magnesium and potassium essential for optimal health.
- Kale is high in lutein which is good for your eyes
What is Kale?
Let me explain what kale is. It is a member of the cabbage family and is related to cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens and Brussels sprouts. There are many types of kale but the most common ones are Curly Kale (above) Lacinato kale aka Dinosaur Kale and Russian Red Kale(below)
I personally like the Lacinato kale as it tends to be more tender than the other 2 varieties. If you can get the curly kale when the leaves are still young they are also very tender. Some stores carry prewashed organic baby kale. It is very easy to use no washing, no chopping. When buying kale always buy organic as kale is listed among the “Dirty Dozen” list of most contaminated foods. Choose young leaves with sturdy but not thick stems. Avoid kale leaves that are wilting or turning yellow which means they are getting old and will be more bitter.
The Downside of Kale
While there are many benefits to kale, it does have a downside. Kale and other cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, etc are goitrogenic and block the production of thyroid hormones. They also inhibit the uptake of iodine necessary for the production of thyroid hormones. Kale and other vegetables like spinach are high in oxalates. Oxalic acid forms in kale to protect kale from being eaten by animals, insects, and fungi. Foods high in oxalates should be avoided by people with kidney stones. Also oxalates can cause painful sex in some women when oxalic acid crystals form in the vagina.
To avoid the problems associated with kale it is best to eat it cooked.
Having a kale salad every once in a while is fine but not daily. Switch up your greens each day to get a variety of nutrients For the reasons mentioned above..
I don’t recommend using kale in a smoothie or juice.
When we juice or blend greens we eat way more than we would if we sat down to eat a salad. The concentration of the goitrogens and oxalic acid are too high. It is too much for most people, especially women over 50. Even though there is a downside to kale, the benefits are great. Like all things moderation is best. Even though I have Hashimotos, a thyroid condition, I enjoy a nice kale salad but only once a month.