Health & Fitness

Can Kale Really Be Bad For You?

We should all be familiar with the saying that “too much of a good thing, is a bad thing,” or some version of it. It is true about water, it is true about desserts, it is true about everything, even the superfood kale. Most mornings I try to start the day with my daily serving of fruit and veggies – in the form of a smoothie. But recently, while contemplating whether or not to include the stems, I discovered something. Too much kale can wreck havoc on your system.

How Healthy Is Kale, What Are The Benefits?

Kale is a low calorie, nutrient dense food that comes in at 35 calories per serving with a complementary 2.5 grams of fiber. That serving is one cup, in case you were wondering. Full of high priority nutrients like vitamin C and K, it is one of the best sources of antioxidants in the form of beta carotene. It has calcium, potassium and magnesium and is full of phytochemicals, which (based on research) helps improve our body’s ability to inhibit cancer cell growth.

So, If Kale Is So Healthy, How Can It Be Bad?

That’s the question of the moment. Kale is not bad, but reports have recently been commissioned to find out under which circumstances it could be harmful. Here’s what they found out. Eating too much kale is the circumstance in which it could be potentially harmful, with some reports going as far as saying it could be considered poisonous. Because kale has a root system that potentially absorbs the heavy metals found in soil, researchers wanted to know how much of the superfood one could ingest before those amounts would elevate the level of toxic metals (lead and thallium) in the blood.

So How Much Of The Superfood Kale Is Really Too Much Super?

Commonly, reports like these are funded by entities that would benefit from people eating less kale, so we must look at independent studies, and unbiased reports that could give us the nitty gritty. According to Women’s Health Magazine, and a study they cited, the too much kale they are referring to is the eating of 154 pounds of it. That’s the amount researchers are afraid some of us would be eating in order to create toxicity in the blood. If you are currently eating this much kale, that would mean that you are eating about three pounds of kale each week. Now, at face value that may seem like a difficult number to get to, but let’s dissect it.

Here’s what one pound of kale looks like:

If you’re buying kale in bunches, then about five stalks of kale equals one pound. Now maybe that looks like a lot. But if you’re juicing or throwing them into a smoothie, that might be one day’s worth of kale for you. If that’s the case, and you are juicing or making a smoothie more than twice a week, you may be closer to the upper limit of 154 pounds of kale in a year. So for magazines and outlets saying this is an impossible standard, it really isn’t if you’re already on a smoothie or juicing regiment. How can you make sure you stay within the safe limits? Dietician Alexandra Caspero, R.D., who is the owner of Delicious Knowledge, told Women’s Health that everything should be in moderation.

What’s The Bottom Line On Kale?

Specifically for kale, Caspero suggests that the bottom line for her is that she does not “recommend eating too much of anything, and it’s a good reminder to balance the types of fruits and vegetables.” As an UNPRETTY note, we recommend varying the types of fruits and vegetables we have each day, and weekly. It is also good practice to get a number of nutrients from different sources, even different growers, if you can. If there is an element that may be unhealthy or skewed in some way, you’re not getting it daily, monthly, yearly. Sometimes, food can be exposed to different things because of the grower or manufacturer. Switching it up now and then is a great way to help diversify your health food sources.

Caspero ends with this, saying, “I eat two to three bunches of kale a week, and I’m not going to stop because of this [new knowledge]. However, I also wouldn’t promote juicing one to two bunches [of kale] a day. That’s overkill.” So, if you love kale, like us, and you like throwing it in a smoothie or juicing it up, do so in moderation. Then, try replacing it with some broccoli or spinach or another veggie to help keep it fresh and varied. Don’t overdo it, just be more open to trying new things!






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