Super Food Tips: Kale Facts and Why We Shouldn’t Eat Raw Kale
(Image credit: Laura Prouty)
Kale has been a trending super food for some time now, and very much a celebrity in the world of vegetables and healthy meals.
High in fibre and low in calories, this veggie darling is also chock full of minerals such as iron, magnesium, manganese, copper, calcium and potassium as well as important vitamins. And thanks to the food industry that has been worshipping this easy-to-grow vegetable, it has also become an expensive commodity.
But do we exactly know how to cook and eat this vegetable?
In this article, we will clear the air with some facts about kale, and also include a simple recipe to show you the correct way to eat it.
Fact #1 – Kale is a goitrogenic vegetable.
Goitrogenic vegetables can block the human thyroid gland from absorbing iodine, resulting in the swelling of the thyroid gland as it tries to make thyroid hormones with limited raw materials (i.e. lack of iodine).
This is a concern for people with Thyroid sensitivity or Thyroid issues and they should avoid eating uncooked Goitrogenic vegetables. The Thyroid gland primarily controls metabolism functions and also secretes hormones to regulate our vital organ functions including:
- Heart rate
- Central and peripheral nervous systems
- Body weight
- Muscle strength
- Menstrual cycles
- Body temperature
- Cholesterol levels
Other goitrogenic vegetables include Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, turnip, and bok choy.
The good news is, there is a way to reduce the levels of goitrogens in these vegetables by subjecting them to heat; Boiling these vegetables have been found to reduce goitrogens by a significant amount. Boiling kale for seven minutes, draining and squeezing the excess water out can reduce the goitrogens by about 90%.*
(Image credit: Dan Gold)
In case you’re wondering if you should ever eat these vegetables raw, without boiling them? Well, lightly steaming kale and other goitrogenic vegetables can reduce the goitrogen levels.
Since we strongly believe that everything is about balance, especially when it comes to our diets. If you already have a habit of eating these vegetables raw once a week or so, you’re in the clear, as long as you keep your diet balanced with a healthy intake of iodine from other food sources.
Foods high in iodine include —
- Iodized sea salt
- Saltwater fish
- Organic yogurt
Other benefits of iodine-rich foods include:
-supports thyroid health
-prevents cancer by improving immunity and inducing self-destruction of cancerous cells
-prevents impaired growth and development in children
-maintains healthy brain function
So even if you don’t ingest large amounts of these goitrogenic veggies, it’s probably a good idea to mindfully match up your iodine-rich food intake on a daily basis anyway.
Fact #2 – Kale is good for you in reasonable doses
This is not to contradict our first point, but instead to act as a balance. Kale still provides a great deal of nutritional values as it is low in calories, high in minerals and vitamins, has zero fats and is packed with powerful antioxidants. So as we have highlighted in fact #1, as long as you keep your diet balanced with a healthy intake of iodine-rich foods, you’re safe.
We’d still recommend that you boil that kale first though.
Some people make the mistake of thinking they should always have ‘healthy’ foods in large quantities, and frequently. However, in the case of kale, its high-fibre and indigestible sugars content can lead to flatulence. Although insoluble fibre is good for regular bowel movements, too much of it can lead to digestive issues. Also, like other cruciferous vegetables, kale is high in raffinose, a carbohydrate that is difficult to digest. In our intestinal tract, it combines with the existing bacteria and produces bloating and gas, which can be extremely uncomfortable and overwork the body as it tries hard to digest it.
Fact #3 – Advertisers celebrate kale a little too much.
Sure, kale is a super food with many health benefits, but so are other foods within the same category of cruciferous vegetables. We’ll like to put this on record —don’t fall for marketing ploys. While consuming kale is definitely good for health, you won’t have to fill your dietary repertoire with kale chips, kale salad or kale smoothies. A balanced diet is always important, so take your fill of broccoli, eggplants and other leafy vegetables that form a well-balanced diet.
Research has shown that consuming raw kale in small amounts and sparingly is fine. So to prevent those issues as we’ve mentioned above, mix it up and introduce other greens into your diet, and try to eat more cooked vegetables than raw ones.
(Image Credit: Jennifer Pallian)
Enough of the nitty-gritty details about kale; here’s a simple smoothie recipe for you to introduce kale into your diet without fearing that it’d be too much!
(Image credit: Carrie Vitt)
Summer Smoothie (serves 6)
(An adaptation of Carrie Vitt’s The Perfect Smoothie)
- 1 (14-oz) can organic coconut milk
- 1 cup filtered water
- 1 cup frozen mango
- 1 cup frozen strawberries
- 1 bunch kale (boiled)
- Remove tough stems from kale. Boil kale for seven minutes and squeeze out excess water
Place all ingredients in blender and blend.
Tip: You can chop up fresh mangoes and strawberries and freeze them overnight in a ziplock bag. They make great snacks and are delicious ingredients in smoothies.
If you have other tips about kale consumption or questions that you’d like us to address, comment below or email us at email@example.com ! We’d be glad to answer the questions that you want us to kale-rify!
Written by Ange Chua
Edited by Cynthea Lam
Ange Chua is an aspiring bird-watcher trying to fix her black thumbs. When she is not writing, you'd find her drinking tea out of teacups or reading in bed with her dog. She thinks her spirit animal is an alpaca.