Kale Is No Longer a Superfood?- It’s Causing Digestive Issues, Kidney Stones, and More

It’s a no-brainer, kale has gained lots of popularity and attention in the last couple of years. It’s been praised as a superfood packed with great vitamins and minerals like vitamins A, K, B6, C, copper, manganese, and calcium. 

So, it’s perfectly understandable to incorporate it into any healthy diet. But, recent research is throwing shade on this popular leafy green! 

Namely, there’s a worrying component inside it that’s leading to different health issues in a large part of the population. 

Let’s learn all about it!

Kale Has a Component That Could Be Hurting You 

Kale contains oxalic acid. This anti-nutrient in kale may harm digestive health, kidney function, and even sexual wellness in women. The history of kale is quite interesting and it dates back to the early 90s. 

Primarily, it was used as a decorative green in salad bars and pizza. Pizza Hut was once the largest buyer of kale in the country. They used it as a visual garnish for their pizzas. 

However, the perception of kale changed once people started learning about its nutritional profile. Soon after, kale became a regular ingredient in different diets and it was past the decorative phase. 

Antinutrients in Kale: What Do They Mean?

Antinutrients are substances that impede the absorption of nutrients in our body. They’re present in foods that are otherwise healthy and may have negative effects on overall health.

Some of the most common antinutrients are protease inhibitors, phytic acid, lectins, gluten, and oxalic acid or oxalates. 

Kale is full of oxalates that may be preventing proper nutrient absorption. Let’s take a look at why the oxalic acid in kale may be causing you more harm than good:

  • Oxalic acid interferes with the absorption of calcium. The buildup of calcium in parts of the body may harm the health of the heart, joints, bones, teeth, heart, nerves, and muscles. 
  • The oxalates bind to calcium in the blood and create small and sharp oxalic acid crystals. These crystals lodge themselves into different parts of the body like the kidneys and may increase the risk of kidney stone formation. 
  • Oxalates are also associated with vulvodynia in women, a condition in which a woman is experiencing painful intercourse due to oxalic acid crystals in the labia. 
  • Oxalates may cause digestive health issues like bloating. This is because the body may not be able to digest oxalates fully so they end up accumulating in the system and causing issues. 

Kale Is Still a Nutritious Food Source, so Should You Consume It?

Despite being rich in amazing nutrients, kale has antinutrients like oxalates too. So, we need to consume it with caution. This is especially true for people with calcium-related problems. 

Cooking and steaming kale may help lower the oxalate content. Sprouted kale is another option that may help you lower the oxalate content. The safest option is to follow a balanced diet comprised of foods rich in nutrients and prepared the right way. 

For example, you can still consume kale, but it’s best to steam or cook it to lower the oxalic acid content. 

Kale is rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatories and it’s a great way to support your digestion, optimize your gut health, manage your weight, and protect the strength and health of your bones.