Kale is very good for youas long as it's prepared correctly and eaten in moderation
Unless the majority of your diet is good, going to the health food store once a week for a bag of Kale is not going to make an impact on your wellbeing. In some cases, if you are not consuming it properly, Kale could actually be bad for you. At the very least, it won’t be as good for you as you might have hoped!
I also work for Huckleberry Farms in Auckland (a Wholefoods Supermarket). At my job I get to see people who have become quite fanatical about coming into the store on ‘Kale Delivery Days’. God help us if we run out – it’s like telling them “sorry, we’ve just sold the last roll of toilet paper, you’re going to have to improvise”!
The people who rush in and rush out with their stash of Kale never ask us how they should consume this leafy green. Which is a shame, because if they did ask, this is what I’d tell them:
Kale is not the tastiest vege in the produce aisle, but when prepared correctly and eaten in moderation, it can be very good for you — and not half bad tasting!
Kale’s nutritional profile
Kale is nutrient dense. It boasts excellent levels of:
Betacarotene, Lutein, and Zeaxanthin1
one cup of Kale has as much Vitamin C as an orange
per calorie, Kale has more Calcium than milk
per calorie, Kale has more Iron than meat2
Glucosinolates are the anti-cancer compounds found in Kale
It also contains good levels of protein, omega 3 & 6 fatty acids, copper, manganese, sulphur and vitamins B1, B2, B6 & E.
This means that it’s good for your cardiovasular and lung health, your immune system, your bones… and well, it’s just very good for you in general!
However, that is assuming you consume it correctly.
(see the downside below).
Some things you may not have thought about when eating Kale:
01—Don't have Kale raw
if you have a thyroid problem
If you have a thyroid issue, or even a suspected one (indicated by a slow or sluggish metabolism), it doesn’t pay to eat Kale raw in juices, smoothies, or salads. In this case, you should only ever eat it cooked.4
02—Don’t consume Kale on a daily basis — and definitely don’t have it for every meal!
When eaten raw, it will add to the detrimental effects if you have a thyroid issue. It can also be harmful if you are iodine deficient (e.g. New Zealanders and Australians). Regardless of how it is prepared, it could promote a certain type of recurrent kidney stone issue.5 It could also lead to a food intolerance.
03—You must have it with good fat
Not all of the health promoting properties of Kale (e.g. antioxidants & fat soluble vitamins), can be maximised if you don’t consume it with fat. Juices and Green Smoothies can be a problem here, and also some salads (depending on what’s in it, or on-top-of-it).
If you’re able to have raw Kale in your diet, it pays to use Cavolo Nero (a.k.a. Tuscan Kale), as it is considered to be slightly sweeter and is more delicate than Curly Kale (I personally find it more bitter — which I would expect to find with it being the darker green of the two varieties…). Curly Kale is tougher in texture and is better added to cooked dishes (as the leaves will wilt and break down).
To be honest, I can’t stand the taste of either type of Kale when raw. Whether it’s in a juice, a smoothie, or a salad! Gak! Kale is bitter, and I also don’t like the texture of it. Despite my best intentions (sadly), my Kale often get thrown out before I manage to psych myself up to eat it raw.
When I do have it, I either prepare it as a ‘side’ — I lightly steam it, and add a knob of organic butter and a drizzle of lemon (this cuts the bitter component).
Note: If I was being ‘good’ I would eat Kale without the lemon, and have it as a starter to promote good digestion!
Alternatively, I like to add Kale in at the very end, to my ‘one pot’ wonders!
Rotation, variation, moderation
Kale is just one of the items you should purchase from your local health food store (e.g. Huckleberry Farms or Harvest Wholefoods). Rotate your dark green leafies (Kale, Spinach, Swiss Chard/Silverbeet), and rotate your Cabbage Family everytime you shop.
Note: For freshness and variety I advise my clients to do small shops 2–3 times per week (more on this in a subsequent blog).
Aim to have a serving 2–3 times per week (between 1–2 cups, depending on your ideal body weight). Cut it up into 1/2 inch slices and cut again crosswise, lightly steam, and add 3–5g of fat (butter, olive oil or coconut fat). Make sure you chew it well! This ensures you benefit from the full array of nutrients this vegetable provides, as well as the fibre.
Kale should be just one of the food items you purchase from your local health food store (or that you grow).
To add Kale to your diet, you could lightly sauté it with fresh garlic (and sprinkle with lemon juice before serving), or add it to a home cooked pizza.
These recipes all follow Lisa’s ‘Keep It Simple Sweetie’ (K.I.S.S) guide to eating!
Click here to read more.
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Lisa Fitzgibbon is a qualified (2006), experienced and registered Naturopath and Medical Herbalist. She runs her own private practice OOMPH, in Grey Lynn (Auckland, New Zealand). Lisa has been involved in the Natural Health industry for 13 years. She draws on her professional training and experience, as well as her own personal experience to bring you realistic, holistic health advice.
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Lisa sees clients from all over New Zealand either in person or via SKYPE.