Several years ago, the American Kale Association hired Oberon Sinclair, the founder of a boutique public relations agency, joining the ranks of brands like Hermes and Vivienne Westwood. Around the same time, I had finally tricked adult me into liking spinach. Suddenly, for me, and after extensive work by Sinclair and her team, kale started replacing spinach on menus. Needless to say, we had very different feelings about the matter.
Long before the trend reached the critical mass it currently holds, I tried a kale salad because everyone was doing it, and I didn’t pay attention to after-school specials. Fourteen years of chewing through the undeniable taste of dirt later, I finally finished that salad and was wildly unimpressed. I could not comprehend how this leafy vegetable went from diner garnish and Pizza Hut buffet decoration to glorified superfood.
No one’s tricking you; kale is great for your health.
An average kale salad serves up at least twice your daily recommended intake of Vitamins A and C and nearly 10 times more Vitamin K1 than you need. If you want to live forever, medical journals are now crawling with evidence that kale’s your magical elixir. Those antioxidants will save your organs, memory and even write your history paper... as long as you don’t ask too many questions.
You’re probably eating more raw kale than your body can handle.
I’m not talking about a casual kale eater; this is for the committed juicers and punny Kale shirt owners who have a “kale guy” at a farmer’s market two towns over. If you eat kale every single day, especially raw, you’re doing as much harm as you are fighting cancer/obesity/a case of the Mondays.
I won’t scare you about oxalates causing kidney stones since most greens worth a damn carry about the same risk level. That overload of Vitamin K, however, can be detrimental to people taking blood thinners or similar medications due to its clotting properties. Raw kale messes with the body’s ability to absorb iodine, which can result in hyperthyroidism after extensive exposure. But, you know, goiters can be sexy, right?
Don’t throw out your kale, cook it.
Look, stop rubbing your kale in oil for ten minutes to “release the flavors” and just throw it into a skillet. Though there’s been some fear mongering across the board, scientists and doctors can universally agree that no one should eat raw kale more than once a week. So, bake them, steam them, fry them—whatever you need to do to keep your withdrawal symptoms at bay.
More importantly, stop making kale your end-all, be-all salvation and round out your diet with chard, broccoli, and the ever-dependable spinach. Variety is the spice of life, especially when that variety does not taste like a compost pile.