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17 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Kale

This time of year, as the temperature cools, a molecular miracle is happening on farms everywhere: the kale is getting even better. Touched by the chill, kale gets sweeter, as the sugars start to concentrate. And as the rest of the garden succumbs to the winter, kale stands strong.

Kale is a frequent topic of conversation in my life, especially as we ramp up to National Kale Day on October 1, which I cofounded. As kale has gained popularity, I’ve heard some scary comments from people who just don’t know better. Like the woman who recently told me, with a knowing smile, that we “don’t absorb any nutrients from kale.” I’ve heard everything from worries that kale is harmful to human health to the misperception that it’s a new food, so I thought it was time to set the record straight.

Here are 17 things I wish everyone knew about kale:

1. A serving of kale has more absorbable calcium than a small carton of milk.


2. Kale is medicine.

Modern health depends on eating more whole foods and plants, like kale. The mission of National Kale Day October 1 is to help change how we eat for the better. With your food choices impacting everything from your personal health to environmental health, it’s arguable that the fate of the planet depends upon us all eating more kale.

3. Kale tops the nutrient density scale.

It gives you more nutritional bang for your buck. Example? 1 cup of raw kale has just 33 calories yet contains 684% of vitamin K, 134% of vitamin C, 206% of Vitamin A plus iron, folate, omega-3s, magnesium, calcium, iron, fiber, and 2 grams of protein. BAM! That’s nutrient density.

4. But kale’s secret power is its phytonutrients, those miraculous molecules in plants that are often called “antioxidants.”

Kale possesses phytonutrients, which quell inflammation, improve the liver’s detox ability, and can even protect brain cells from stress. Kale talks to your DNA and tells it to sing the sweet, slow song of health and happiness.

5. But, you say, you are a kale zero?

Learn to be a kale hero! Check out the free Kale Hero Toolkit, which includes a kale prescription, kale experiments, recipes, and signs. It’s available for download on

6. Kale is not for everyone.

There are three groups of people who should avoid kale: (1) People taking blood thinners like Coumadin (warfarin). These folks should consult with their physician prior to changing their kale consumption, as all the vitamin K in kale can interfere with that medicine. (2) People who find kale very bitter are often “super tasters.” Sometimes, cooking kale makes it tolerable, sometimes not. (3) Those who have a cruciferous vegetable allergy. It’s very rare, but some people are allergic to kale and other crucifers like broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.

7. Being a kale fan doesn’t mean you have to eat a giant trough of kale salad at every meal or juice a bushel and swig it down with a smile.

Being a fan means appreciating the lessons and benefits of kale and the many other healthy, whole foods that sustain us. The average American eats 2 to 3 cups of kale every year — one of the healthiest foods on the planet. Is it any wonder our collective health is a mess?

8. Go slow, kale newbie. Start with kale chips, not a giant kale salad.

Be mindful as you introduce more roughage into your diet. I regularly give kale consultations and a typical complaint is something like, “OMG, I tried kale once and then was sooooo bloated.” If kale isn’t a part of your diet, give your body time to adjust.


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