Sorry kale, but you’re really not that super

Green superhero

Since when did kale come into vogue? I remember a time when curly parsley reigned supreme and spinach came a close second. Does anyone really like kale anyway? Sure it’s good for you, but to me, it just smells like dirty socks.   

Wellness warriors, yogis, health food gurus and hipsters north of the Yarra River have lauded kale and labelled it a superfood. A quick Google search will reveal kale’s healing and curative properties. According to Dr Google this amazing green vegetable can cure heart disease, digestive troubles, cancer, AIDS and even hair loss. Bald men nationwide rejoice! This magical cabbage has all the answers. Or so we’re told… Forget parsley and those other inferior green vegetables; they can’t cure disease or even make a half decent-looking garnish on your chicken parmigiana.   

Kale is certainly the ‘in’ food at the moment. Everywhere you look, kale is rearing its green bushy head. It’s currently trending on every social media platform and it’s getting heaps of press in the mainstream media too. Heck, even the Obamas eat it. Kale is also appearing on menus, drinks lists and on the snack menu at my local pub. Kale chips or kale-whatever with my beer is exactly what I’m after. Not! I can only imagine some marketing gurus trying to include kale in the next Victoria Bitter “I got it now” jingle… Perhaps something along the lines of, “A hard-earned thirst needs a big cold beer. And the best cold beer is Vic. Perfect served with sun-dried kale chips sprinkled with pink Himalayan sea salt.” You’re welcome, Carlton & United Breweries. 

The green brigade has gone too far on this one!

But, what does the science say? Is the nutritional hype around kale overstated or even warranted? Was Popeye right all along when he chose spinach over kale?

As it turns out, spinach is hands down the superior green. Spinach romps home in the vitamin E, folate, vitamin A + Beta-carotene, potassium, magnesium and iron stakes. So there you have it. But, I doubt you’ll be seeing trendy celebrities posting photos on social media of themselves eating spinach any time soon, let alone seeing spinach featured on the snacks menu at your local brewhouse.

And while I’m at it, let’s debunk the myth of the term, ‘superfood’. In fact, superfood has no meaning at all among the medical fraternity. Better yet, there’s no legal definition either. Moreover, no single food is going to give you all the nutrients you need to sustain you. Not even wheatgrass or goji berries or, you guessed it, kale. I was once told by a trader in the Grand Bazaar in Turkey that eating three Medjool dates a day will provide me with all the nutrition I need. Nice try Mr date merchant, but that’s just fruity advice.

Eating a wide variety of foods from all the different food groups is the best way to meet your daily nutritional requirements. It mightn’t be sexy advice, but it sure is super.     

When did nutrition science get hijacked? Why is it so damn confusing? The way to attain health really isn’t rocket science. However, it cannot be achieved by simply adding or removing one particular food or nutrient from your diet. Cue the anti-gluten and anti-sugar movements.

To eat your way to better health, try including wholesome foods like fruit, grains, dairy, lean meats, fish, legumes and lots of veggies on a daily basis. It’s hardly earth-shattering advice. It’s the kind of advice your grandmother would give. And I bet you wouldn’t argue with her.

Please don’t get me wrong; kale is a healthy green. And I won’t hold it against you if you choose to eat it. But, just don’t tell me that by eating it I will achieve perfect health and that it’s going to cure all my ills, or help me to regrow my luscious locks. Because, while it would be super if it did, the science simply doesn’t support it.

And quite frankly, I don’t care if the leader of the free world or one of the Kardashian girls eats it or drinks it. The truth is, I simply don’t like it. And, that’s reason enough for me not to eat it.


Article published in Mamamia

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