The dark, leafy nutritional darling is getting some bad press. What’s a kale lover to do? (Photo: Getty Images)
It’s hard to find a vegetable more touted than kale. Beloved by health experts for its nutritional punch and chefs for its versatility (Kale salads! Kale smoothies! Kale soup!), kale has rocketed to the top of the good-for-you food list in the last year.
Which is why it’s not all that shocking that the dark leafy green has taken a few public hits in recent months. A New York Times article from January 2014 kicked off kale paranoia, linking kale consumption to hypothyroidism. Follow-ups abounded, and soon enough kale was taking hits for causing everything from kidney stones to arthritis troubles.
Months later, news of a potential kale shortage shook consumers—and an outpouring of concern revealed just how deep our allegiance to kale lies. It’s for good reason: A serving of kale (one cup, chopped) provides 134% of your daily vitamin C, 133% of daily vitamin A, and a whopping 1180% of your daily vitamin K. It’s a solid source of plant protein (2.9 grams per serving) and adds easy greenage to meals.
Kale’s benefits have made it into a culinary superstar, which some worry is leading to overconsumption—and negative results.
The Great Kale Debate
So should you cut kale out of your 2015 diet? Not so fast, says Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, founder of Nutritious Life. “I think kale is here to stay,” Glassman tells Yahoo Health. “You may see a little less hype and excitement over it, and other veggies like collard greens will certainly make their mark, but kale is not going anywhere.” As for health concerns, the risk is minimal for most consumers. “If you’re eating a balanced diet, not overconsuming food in general, and eating a variety of greens, fruit, nuts and seeds, and lean protein, you shouldn’t have to worry about hypothyroidism,“ says Glassman.
Related: 15 Foods To Add To Your Diet In 2015
Kristin Kirkpatrick, RD, the manager of nutrition services at Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, agrees. “Much of the backlash has come about due to concerns about the effects kale may have on thyroid function, but the fact is, our lack of vegetable consumption in the United States is far more important,” Kirkpatrick tells Yahoo Health. ”Vegetables are one of the best ways to fight against cancer and mortality—if you love kale, and you previously were not a vegetable lover, keep eating it. “
How To Move Forward
If the negative press still has you second-guessing, try choosing cooked kale over raw: “While kale may affect the thyroid due to the goitrogens it contains, this effect may be decreased with cooking,” says Kirkpatrick. If raw veggies are more your speed, make sure to mix up your greens, choosing foods like cucumbers and zucchini, or green herbs like parsley and mint (For more ideas, check out these superfoods that are healthier than kale).
Still can’t let go of kale? Glassman suggests minimizing other thyroid-impacting foods like Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and broccoli, to make room for more kale in your diet.
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