Can’t Stand Kale?

By Milton Stokes

Food, Nutrition & Health Engagement Lead

Freshly Washed Kale
Freshly washed kale

I’ll admit I’m not crazy about the taste of kale. But because it is a vegetable full of nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals with antioxidant properties, I have been experimenting with ways to prepare kale to maximize family appeal. The only thing to do with plain kale is to line an old fashioned salad bar. To get kids – and some adults – to eat it, it needs jazzing up. Or some disguise, such as in a soup or stew.

Last week I came across various articles labeling this vegetable as “bad.” As a registered dietitian this piques my interest; it also raises my ire as I know better. While many parents might not have the benefit of accessing all the scholarly literature about kale, it’s headlines like these below that send off the warning bells in anyone’s mind:

Mother Jones: Sorry, Foodies: We’re About to Ruin Kale

Delish: People Are Getting Seriously Sick From Eating Kale

It’s no wonder consumer confusion abounds after reading these types of articles. But what’s of paramount importance is that everyone should eat more fruits and vegetables, whether it’s kale or carrots, papaya or peaches, corn or cabbage, and everything in between. Aim for the rainbow of color making half your plate fruits and veggies. Of lesser importance is that some fruits and vegetables may contain trace amounts of chemicals considered harmful in excess. Apples contain cyanide. Potatoes contain solanines. However, an individual would have to eat enormous amounts to get to these dangerous levels. As was demonstrated so simply in this latest video by AsapSCIENCE, real risk is based on the actual amount of the food product consumed. Simply put, anything in excess, even water, can have harmful effects.

My advice: read everything with a measure of skepticism. And cross check with credible sources. Some of my favorites include the Produce for Better Health Foundation’s program and the USDA Food & Nutrition Information Center. For personalized meal planning advice, visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website to locate a registered dietitian near you.

Fruits and vegetables are a part of a balanced meal, and I am happy to work for an organization that is working to help farmers produce tasty, nutritious vegetables. So go ahead, eat your kale. I’ll bury mine in a homemade smoothie with frozen fruit and Greek yogurt.

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