Kale: The Myths of the 'Superfood'

Kale as an edible item in the American diet has been around for a while, a long while, mostly as decoration, garnish, or an ingredient in salads, but rarely the main item on the menu. Now, while there is really nothing new about eating kale, it had gained a reputation among foodies over the last few years as something of a ‘superfood’. While this position seems to be something of a fad, far be it from us not to try to figure out the difference between the benefits and the hype of the kale, and what they can mean to both your diet and your dinner plate

10 Active Myths | Suggest a Myth
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FACT: Kale can help your diabetes!

True! This is because high fiber foods, like kale, can help people with type 1 diabetes to lower glucose levels and for type 2 diabetics the fiber helps to improve blood sugar and insulin levels.

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MYTH: We’re running out of kale!

No, we’re not, not really. While this is something was being pushed quite a bit in the media, it's not true, at least not the the extent that some were panicking about. There is still a lot of the kale around, but the trendiness of it is something of a problem for producers trying to meet demand. All this talk of shortages will probably end up driving prices up a bit.

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MYTH: Kale is special, and just better!

Brassica oleracea, remember that name: brassica oleracea, because that one wildflower, yes, flower, is what kale is. Cauliflower, cabbage, lettuce, and even brussel sprouts, all derive from brassica oleracea. We’ve just monkeyed with and bred them for our different taste preferences and needs. So if we do run out of kale, you can just eat it's brothers and cousins for mostly the same benefits.

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FACT: But kale is good for you!

Okay, we'll give you this one. One of the reasons this cruciferous vegetable has become so popular is a cup of the greens contains only 36 calories, no fat, and 5 grams of fiber. Within this cup of kale you will find more than your day's need for Vitamin A and Vitamin C. On top of this you will also find many other nutrients in this food including: Iron, Vitamin K, Vitamin B-6, Calcium, OMega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants. Again, there are other vegetables that will do the same thing for you, but kale is the green of the moment.

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MYTH: Kale will detoxify you!

No, not really. Let’s put the while ‘toxin’ thing to a rest: if your body were full of ‘toxins’ (always only vaguely defined) you would be dead. This would mean that your kidneys and liver has ceased to function, thus, you’d be seriously deceased. This is what the kidneys and liver are for, along with the colon, to filter and dispose of junk in the body, and you really can’t help that process with various things being pushed by the ‘Detoxify’ industry. If will probably help you poo though. If you're having heath issues you think detoxifying would help, you should consult a medical professional.

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MYTH: Kale will kill you!
No it won’t, but as they say, too much of a good thing… Kale, along with all cruciferous vegetables, contains a substance that can cause issues for the thyroid. This is only present in raw kale. People can still eat raw kale, such as in smoothies daily, but any more than that you need to cook it, to eliminate the substance. Remember to talk with your doctor about whether kale is a good option for your diet and how much you should eat, and how to prepare it.
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FACT: A smoothie is the best way to eat kale!

We'll call true on this one! If you are going to eat your kale raw, one of the best ways to do this is in a smoothie. With a good blender, you can really break up the greens so that they're not big chunks of leaves in your smoothie. While some people don't care for the bitter taste of kale, there are ways that you can add some flavor up without having to give up any of the benefits. Adding a little honey will help eliminate the bitterness and add a little zest to your kale shake.

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FACT: Kale can help with Heart Disease!

As a vegetable with high fiber, kale can indeed help with a heart healthy diet. Any problem calling for more fiber in the diet can be helped by the addition of kale.

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MYTH: Kale must be eaten raw!

Myth. You can eat kale anyway you want, although too much raw kale is not good for you and might cause you other health problems. If you do like your kale cooked, then there are several other options. Many people like it lightly sautéed in onions and garlic to give it flavor. Some people just like to bake the kale leaves in an oven to dehydrate them and make them taste like chips. Well, taste something like chips.

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MYTH: Kale is our healthiest green! It just is!

No, but it's a nice try. In 2014, a William Patterson University study listed fruits and vegetables, ranking them all by nutrient density, basing the study on levels of 17 different nutrients linked to improved cardiovascular health. Kale didn’t even crack the top 10, no bullet, no arrow, no uptrending. Spinach and even Romaine lettuce made kale cry, as did parsley and chives. So, superfood? Sorry, it's a myth. Probably better for you than McDonald’s fries, but not a "super" food.