No, Kale Is Not a Threat to Your Health

A couple of articles have caused some to worry that kale, the current darling of the vegetable world, can be bad for you.


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.

Stacy Johnson

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