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Veggies Trending on the Red Carpet: Kale

10.12.2012 / Blog Posts Health and Wellness

Jane Jakubczak MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN; Washington Redskins Team Dietitian

Do you have a food item that whenever you hear the name, see it in the store or advertisement say to yourself, “I really need to eat more of that."

For me, that is a vegetable called kale.

What a surprise it was when I opened my morning paper last week and saw the article Kale: Yes, it’s good for you, but don’t overdo it by Carolyn Butler (Washington Post 9/25/12). Was this a hint?

As a Registered Dietitian, I have been taught from my early days in Nutrition 101 class that dark, leafy greens are part of the “All-Star” team in the sport of dietetics. Needless to say, my itch for Kale has a long, long history that I plan to scratch this week with the help of WOW Members.

Before we get to how you can help me increase my Kale status, I want to share the information that inspired me in the wee hours one morning to take on the challenge of KALE!

The article offered Kale’s impressive list of benefits:

It's Nutrient Dense: Kale belongs to the cruciferous family, along with its cousins the cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage. This family is well known in the nutrition world as champions of health! They are some of the most nutrient dense foods on earth, meaning calorie for calorie they contain the highest level/variety of nutrients. Click here for more on cruciferous vegetables.

 It contains 45 different flavonoids. These include antioxidants with anti-inflammatory effects! This was the fact that clinched my commitment to eat more Kale. Click here for more on flavonoids

It's Full of Antioxidants: Kale has “the broadest range of antioxidants and highest level of Vitamin K along with a Vitamin E type that has been shown specifically to improve heart health with its ability to lower cholesterol levels," according to Registered Dietitian Cheryl Harris, Fairfax, Virginia. Click here for more on antioxidants

It contains Indole-3-Carbinol: Kale contains a nutrient known as indole-3-carbinol that may play a part in estrogen metabolism and may play a protective role against breast cancer, fibroids or endometriosis. Click here for more on indole-3-carbinol.

It's a Great Source of Fiber: Fiber helps keep our digestive system strong and healthy. Kale, along with other green leafy vegetables, acts as a natural detoxification for your body. Click here for more on fiber.

As my enthusiasm of this super star food reached sky high proportions, the article gracefully brought me back to earth by reminding me that “too much of a good thing, is not a good thing.” A motto I preach every day to my clients and have mentioned multiple times to my WOW readers.

Before stuffing your fridge with this green superstar, keep this in mind:

• If you take any type of blood thinning medication or dietary supplements be aware that Kale contains a large dosage of Vitamin K, which promotes blood clotting. Kale may reduce the effectiveness of your blood thinning medication. Common blood-thinning medications include warfarin/Coumadin, ticlodipine, dipyridamole, clopidogrel/Plavik, heparin and aspirin. Dietary supplements that may have a blood thinning effect include Omega 3 Fatty Acid such as fish oil supplements and coenzyme Q 10. Discuss the increase of green leafy vegetables with your physician or dietitian if you take any of the above or are being treated for cardiovascular disease. 

• Kale contains oxalates, in large amounts may increase your risk of kidney or gallstones. If you have a history of either, discuss the increase of green leafy vegetables with you physician or dietitian. Click here for more on oxalates and kidney stones.

• Large amounts of Kale, in the raw state, contain a compound that may suppress thyroid function in some people. However, this compound appears to be reduced when cooked. If you have a history of thyroid issues, discuss the increase of Kale with you physician or dietitian.

With any food, these are reminders that we need to eat a variety to decrease our risk of harmful effects of any one component of a food and furthermore to ensure we obtain the hundreds of food elements our body needs to stay healthy. As much of a powerhouse Kale appears to be, it will not take care of all your nutrient needs.

You may be wondering how you can help me with my Kale journey. Experts in behavior change have found the most powerful act towards making a health change (including the integration of a new food into one’s diet) is to tell someone your goal. Sharing your intention generates accountability and fuels the motivation to succeed. By expressing my goal to thousands of WOW members, I am setting myself up for success.

I would love to hear from WOW readers on how they enjoy Kale or any other health behavior change you have been be successful at integrating into your life.

Next week we will discuss how to purchase, prepare and enjoy Kale and share fun, simple recipes.

Make it a healthy week and GO SKINS!

Jane

Read the Washington Post article in its entirety.

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