As the consumption of kale grows across the world, some people are worried about the plant’s potential toxicity and its ability to cause hypothyroidism.

But perhaps the most distressing result of kale consumption is that it has led to a continued rise in food purists who think that they know everything and anything about food even while they choose to avoid several aspects of the diet many of us enjoy. That appears to be the concern of the very serious website The Unaustralian, which claims that kale consumption may have turned our traditional holier than thou vegan into something much more confrontational and nasty.

So has kale gone too far? Let us take a look at the facts and understand both the benefits and potential personality drawbacks.

Plenty of social downsides

Let us face it: no one becomes a vegan because it’s fun.

Vegans have a pretty tough lot. They have to go out of their way picking up a weird selection of foods that are more difficult to get than normal food. They have a difficult time finding their proper foods at social gatherings. And they are always joked about.

So it is not exactly surprising that in order to compensate for being the butt of jokes, they have to puff up their own ego in order to feel better.

Now, one of their key vegetables has received mainstream acceptance as a health food. President Obama had a kale salad last Thanksgiving, Hollywood celebrities are promoting its health benefits, and its sales have skyrocketed over the past few years. One can thus be hardly surprised that such a victory would only serve to prop up vegans’ egos and confidence that one day there will be no more meat or eggs or cheese for consumption.

Health benefits

But while ego inflation is undoubtedly a dangerous thing, the health benefits of kale are a real thing.

As Time describes it, kale does pack a lot of nutrients and vitamins in a small package. A cup of kale is a rich source of Vitamins A, C, E, K, and B6 and also provides iron, calcium, folate, and manganese. It also possesses antioxidants which counteract body processes which can lead to aging and cancer.

In addition to providing plenty of essential nutrients and minerals, kale is a bulky leafy green which makes people feel full faster while not providing a lot of calories. This makes it a valuable vegetable to use for those who are trying to lose weight.

And perhaps best of all, kale is very easy to use from a culinary perspective. While boiling it does leech off those valuable minerals and vitamins, kale can also be eaten raw, baked, and used as a strong flavoring in many dishes. Even boiled kale can provide some nutrients like Vitamin K.

Kale may have health risks

All of the nutrients which come with kale may make someone believe that it is the perfect, healthy vegetable. But while kale certainly has its nutritional value, there could be some problems with this so-called miracle vegetable.

Kale is as nutritious as it is because the kale plant sucks up a great deal of minerals and nutrients from the soil, making it as medicinal as codeine phosphate. But what this also means is that the plant sucks up a whole lot of other things which may not be so good for your body. One of these things is called thallium. Thallium is a toxic heavy metal which can cause fatigue, hair loss, stomach pain, and neurological issues. As Mother Jones reported last July, scientists have discovered that kale is particularly good at sucking up thallium.

However, it’s important to note that this health critique of kale has also been countered. See this article for further detailed information about criticisms of the science behind these claims.

Final verdict?

So, what is there to say about kale? Is it a vegetable trumped by vegans as a sign of their imminent victory? Is it a wonder health vegetable which can help people lose weight while supplying them with key nutrients? Or is it an overrated vegetable with potentially toxic side effects?

That is up to you to decide. Perhaps if there is a recommendation, it is not to go overboard with kale should you choose to start regularly consuming it. Moderation is a virtue in all things, even for a purported wonder vegetable.

Featured photo credit: Dwight Sipler via flickr.com

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