No, Kale Is Not a Threat to Your Health

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People believe many weird things about food that aren’t close to the truth. For instance, contrary to what you probably believe (I know that I did), a new study shows that coffee for those who drink it regularly is not a diuretic – meaning it doesn’t keep you running to the bathroom.

And now there are people who are worried that kale — which is enjoying immense popularity right now — can be bad for you. A column in The New York Times and a subsequent article on NPR caused people who don’t read carefully to worry that they might give themselves a condition called hypothyroidism if they eat too much kale.

Wrote Sarah Han on The Bold Italic blog about the fallout from the NYT’s post:

Not surprisingly, the day Berman’s story ran, my Facebook feed was abuzz with links to it, and other kale articles, with commentary by friends wondering if they should stop eating the leafy brassica. Wait, did these people not finish reading the rest of the essay, or did they stop after the first few paragraphs? Are they really going to stop eating kale because of this one story that ran in the NYT?

Rachel Zimmerman, who wrote the original NPR story, did a follow-up article that shared these conclusions:

I’d sum up Dr. [Jeffrey] Garber’s take on the whole kale issue pretty simply: It’s probably unwise to embrace a long-term, pound-a-day raw kale habit, but even if you do, you will, in all likelihood, be fine. (Especially if you live in the U.S., where iodine deficiency isn’t a huge problem, and if you don’t have a family history or predisposition to thyroid disorders.)

“If one isn’t a food faddist or predisposed to a thyroid problem (family history, prior diagnosis) the risks are very low,” Garber said. And, he adds, if you have any concerns at all, check in with your doctor for a simple thyroid test.

Why is this important to you? Kale, like many cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and collard and mustard greens, is very good for you.

And I can tell you that kale and other greens are very easy to grow and harvest – which makes them incredibly economical.

So eat your kale with gusto, but do include other vegetables in your diet. If you have a thyroid problem, ask your doctor about the foods to avoid.

Are you on the kale bandwagon, along with celebrities, cooking shows and magazines, and leading chefs? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

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Comments & discussion

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  • Robert

    Toooooo Funny! “Wait, did these people not finish reading the rest of the essay, or did they stop after the first few paragraphs? Are they really going to stop eating kale because of this one story that ran in the NYT?” That’s worth a survey; reading habits of the masses :-) (P.S. Often times guilty myself but, with communications today, we are all subject to rampant misinformation.)

  • Brad

    This article comes at an opportune time, at least for me. About one week ago my wife was telling a group of her friends that she was eating healthier and that Kale was one of the ingredients in her new diet. One of her “omniscient” friends told her that kale causes hypothyroidism and shouldn’t be eaten by some people. Since I had previously read the research about all of the vegetables, fruits and nutrients that we consume, I told her once again that she is in no danger. She insisted upon researching it anyway and when I asked her, she said that she read that Kale can give people hypothyroidism. I immediately told her to go back to the research and read it again because Kale does NOT give people with normal thyroid functions hypothyroidism. So what do we learn from this story?
    First, don’t believe what people tell you because more times than not, they are wrong. Second, carefully research what you hear and then make an educated decision. Third, people who aren’t qualified to open their mouths to give advice, shouldn’t. If my wife had believed her friend over me, then she wouldn’t be eating any green vegetables (all green vegetables can adversely affect people with hypothyroidism) and her health would suffer.
    For all of you know-it-alls out there, do everyone a favor and don’t speak, just listen. You’ll learn a great deal more and won’t endanger someone’s life.

    • bigpinch

      ’nuff said.

    • LadyIve

      This is the first time I hear anything adverse about kale. I do appreciate it when friends share any new ‘discoveries’, however. That doesn’t mean I take them at their word, but I then take the time to do my own research and form my own opinion. A lot of health wisdom is transferred by word of mouth.