It’s no wonder that some people try to pack their plates with kale. But it is possible to have too much of a good thing?
A few years ago, the health world was all abuzz by reports that eating too much kale could be poisonous. People were concerned that kale’s root system absorbed lead and thallium, a heavy metal found in soil, and eating too much for the veggie would lead to elevated levels of the toxic metals in the blood. But these reports were more hype than fact. (According to a 2008 study, you’d have to eat 154 pounds of kale before your blood would have any toxic levels of lead…something that none of us are doing.)
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The truth is that eating anything in large quantities, from coconut oil to avocados, isn’t good for you. “Kale is awesome, but definitely switch up your greens,” says Manganiello. It might not give you heavy-metal poisoning, but going overboard can have some other negative effects. “Since kale is a good source of fiber, it can fill you up quickly and crowd out other good, nutrient-dense foods from your diet,” says Manganiello. Plus, eating too much fiber (like what you find in kale) could wreck havoc on your GI system, causing bloating, diarrhea, gas, constipation, and even improper absorption of nutrients. Of course, you’d have to be eating a lot of kale to suffer these effects, says Manganiello, but it’s still something to keep in mind.
Manganiello says you can eat kale every day, just don’t overdo it. She recommends one to two servings maximum of kale per day, leaving room for other healthy foods that provide an assortment of nutrients. When you do nosh on this dark leafy green, pair it with foods rich in fatty acids like oil or nuts to boost the uptake of fat-soluble vitamins, according to Manganiello. “Kale is also a good source of iron and pairing it with foods rich in vitamin C, such as strawberries, citrus fruits or lemon juice, help with absorption,” she says.
The bottom line: The benefits of kale far outweigh the downsides. Plus, you’d have to eat a lot of the veggie before you may experience any side effects from overindulging. So resume your kale salad-eating ways with your conscience clear!