What are kale benefits and side effects? Is kale low fodmap? Gluten free? Acidic or alkaline? Vegan? Good for you? Healthy? Sustainable? Here are kale pros and cons: all the info on kale that every ethical consumer wants to know…
Food is something we consume every day and if you’re like me, you do all the research you can to make sure you don’t hurt yourself, the planet, animals or others when shopping. As an ethical consumer myself, I am giving you all the info I’ve found on kale benefits and side effects.
You are going to learn all about kale benefits and side effects. This will include kale benefits for your health and potential risks, kale water footprint and kale carbon footprint, kale sustainability, if kale are vegan or impact animals in other ways, and much more.
After learning if kale are good or bad for you, the environment, animals and human rights, you will be able to make the best choices you can the next time you buy food.
This post is all about kale benefits and side effects that every ethical consumer should know.
Kale Benefits And Side Effects
Kale benefits for health may include:
- better digestion
- aided stomach ulcers
- alleviated headaches and muscle cramping
- anemia treatment and prevention
- boosted energy
- brain function
- eye health and vision
- reduced inflammation
- regulated blood sugar
- strengthened nervous system
- bone strengthening
- boosted immune system
- cardiovascular health
- diabetes management and prevention
- cancer prevention
- liver health
- lower high cholesterol levels
- healthy skin
- lessen or reduced eczema symptoms
- oral health
- weight loss
Kale side effects may include:
- pesticide consumption if not organic
- do not over-consume, be sure to eat in moderation as with any food
- wash thoroughly before consuming to avoid harmful bacteria and parasites
Additionally, kale is…
- Alkaline 9.5 pH level (raw) once digested
- Alkaline 7.5 pH level (cooked) once digested
- Gluten Free
- Not a common Food Allergen
- Included in the Dirty Dozen
- Low Fodmap
Vegan. Organic. Non-GMO. Gluten-Free. Climate Pledge Friendly. Economical. Eco-Friendly. We love it!
Water footprint: low, 322 liters of water used to produce 1 kilogram of kale / 39 gallons of water used to produce 1 pound of kale
Carbon footprint: low, 1.6 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of vegetables, a car driving equivalent of 3.75 miles or 6 kilometers
Destruction: low, kale production is relatively sustainable, there is no known significant damage to air, water, land, soil, forests, etc. as long as pesticides have not been used, be sure to buy Non-GMO/organic, as toxic, chemical pesticides contaminate air, water, soil, etc.
Kills: none, kale production does not require any animals to be killed
Harms: none, kale production does not require any animals to be used
Indirectly kills or harms: none, no animals are indirectly killed or harmed from kale production as long as toxic chemicals have not been used, be sure to buy Non-GMO/organic, as pesticides harm and kill wildlife and ecosystems by contaminating soil, water, air and plants that animals eat
- Harmful to wildlife and ecosystems unless organic
Health and safety: varies, overall, agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries, farmworkers may be subject to dehydration, heat stroke, unprotected exposure to harmful, toxic chemicals and pesticides, unsafe machinery and clean drinking water may not always accessible
Living conditions: varies, laborers are often exploited, they may face tough working conditions including long hours in the sun and heat performing physically exhausting tasks, labor laws and rights may or may not be in place, even if worker protection exists, employer violations may go unreported, refugees and migrant workers are especially vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment, fearing consequences of job loss or deportation
Wages: varies, generally farmworkers earn meager wages, there are many cases of underpaid agricultural workers, wage theft and no overtime payment or benefits
- May have labor issues
Yes! Kale contains fiber, antioxidants, calcium, Vitamins C and K, iron and other nutrients.
The world’s top kale exporting country is Mexico, followed by China, USA, Spain, Italy, Canada, Netherlands, Germany, Portugal and Macedonia.
If you can’t find kale good alternatives are mustard greens, spinach, green cabbage, collard greens and broccoli.
Is kale alkaline or acidic?
Kale is alkaline.
What is the pH level of kale?
Kale has a 9.5 pH level when raw once digested and a 7.5 pH level when cooked once digested.
When you eat food, it breaks down to an ash residue that can be neutral, acidic or alkaline. Minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, silver, copper and iron produce an alkaline ash; whereas sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine and iodine, which are in meat, coffee, dairy and alcohol, leave an acid ash.
Going alkaline easier than ever with this: Acidic and Alkaline Foods List
Is kale gluten free?
Yes, kale is gluten free. Kale does not contain gluten. Kale is a type of vegetable, therefore making it a naturally gluten free food.
While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…
Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include:
- recurring abdominal pain
- chronic diarrhea
- numbness in hands and feet
- chronic fatigue
- joint pain
- unexplained infertility
- low bone density (osteopenia or osteoporosis)
There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.
Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List
Is kale a common food allergen?
No, kale is not a common food allergen. Some people may experience allergic reactions to kale but it is relatively rare by comparison.
A group of the eight major allergenic foods, AKA the Big-8, include:
- crustacean shellfish
- tree nuts
Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis.
Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.
Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List
Is kale part of the dirty dozen?
Yes, kale is part of the dirty dozen and should only be bought organically.
The dirty dozen refers to twelve types of produce that receive the heaviest amounts of pesticides. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) updates the list annually to publish the latest trends in agriculture. An organic diet is always preferable, as there is less exposure to problematic pesticides and toxic chemicals which are not only beneficial to health but undoubtably the environment as well.
Health conditions that are linked to pesticide exposure are: diabetes, cancer and neurological defects like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), birth defects, and reproductive disorders; not to mention laborers employed in agriculture that touch and breathe in pesticides, making them vulnerable to acute and chronic poisoning.
The environmental impact of pesticides includes pollution to water systems and air, the emergence of “superweeds”, which can now resist normal herbicides and perhaps worst of all, declining pollinator populations -essential for all food production!
Consumers are advised that if they don’t tend to purchase organic foods regularly, then at the very least they should opt for organic when shopping for the dirty dozen fruits and vegetables, the latest list consisting of: strawberries, spinach, kale, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes.
Buying organic ensures the farmers have met strict guidelines to produce safe food that is best for minimal toxin exposure and overall health.
Here’s an excellent resource for further information on pesticides: Poisoning Our Children: The Parent’s Guide to the Myths of Safe Pesticides by André Leu
Is kale low fodmap?
Yes, kale is low fodmap, a food you can eat if on a low fodmap diet.
A low FODMAP diet may help those with bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, stomach pain, and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).
It’s all about knowing your body. Observe what works and what doesn’t. You body might even react negatively to a low-FODMAP food simply due to intolerance. Everyone is different! Be mindful and patient. Take time to get to know what’s best for your physical health and overall wellbeing.
See this High FODMAP and Low FODMAP List of Foods
Water footprint of kale?
Kale has a relatively low water footprint compared to other foods.
It takes 322 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of kale / 39 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of kale.
Did you know that water is a finite, non-renewable resource?
How much water does it take to produce an apple? A serving of rice? A steak dinner?
We need to be aware of something referred to as a “water footprint”. That is, the amount of fresh water utilized in the production or supply of goods we consume. As it turns out it takes significantly more water to yield foods that come from animals than foods that come from plants. Imagine how much water a cow needs to consume to generate a piece of beef. Not only how much water a single cow drinks, rather all the water that went into producing the crops that the cow ate.
Find out how much water your food consumes with this: Water Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List
Carbon footprint of kale?
Kale has a relatively low carbon footprint compared to other foods.
It takes around 1.6 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of vegetables, a car driving equivalent of 3.75 miles or 6 kilometers.
Food not only has a water footprint but also a carbon footprint, known as CO2e, which stands for carbon dioxide equivalent. Since carbon measurements are a bit more difficult to comprehend, it is common to equate CO2e to the distance which a car drives in miles or kilometers.
When calculating carbon emissions, some factors may include…
- farm equipment
- animal feed production
- hothouses (greenhouses)
- food processing
- package waste and more
But that’s not all!
It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:
- shopping locally reduces transportation emissions
- food without packaging reduces waste as well as the carbon footprint
- refrigerated and frozen foods increase carbon emissions
- seasonal foods reduce carbon emissions from hothouses (greenhouses)
- growing plant-based foods at home is the most environmentally sustainable method with zero carbon footprint
Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List
Is kale sustainable?
Kale production is relatively sustainable since there is no known significant damage to air, water, land, soil, forests, etc. as long as pesticides have not been used. Be sure to buy non GMO/organic, as toxic, chemical pesticides contaminate air, water, soil, etc. when using regenerative practices.
A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.
Consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly and is one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.
Read more about ‘What Makes Food Sustainable Or Unsustainable?’
Is kale vegan?
Yes, kale is vegan. Kale is a leafy green vegetable and not an animal product or byproduct, therefore making it a vegan food.
Animals of factory farming are suffering. They live in horrific conditions that often include confinement, physical abuse and unnatural environments…so much so that they need to receive antibiotics to keep from getting ill or spreading disease. Growth hormones allow all kinds of animals to become fatter faster and live short lives.
Because we cannot see for ourselves how these animals live and what they endure does not mean it isn’t happening. The meat, poultry and dairy industries do everything they can to distance us from knowing how our food comes to be in order to keep us in the dark about what we support each time we buy animal derived products and byproducts.
Go vegan for animals!
It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.
Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non-Vegan Foods List
Does kale have human rights issues?
At this time there are no major concerns with kale production but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening!
It’s important to stay aware of human rights concerns and worker exploitation that may be associated with specific brands.
Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? The labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized.
Some known problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even be subjected to harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death!
Such mistreatment has been likened to modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation.
Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards.
We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade.
Be sure to read up on this list of ‘Foods You Should Always Buy Fair Trade‘
This post was all about kale benefits and side effects.
Kale, raw – FoodData Central – USDA
Kale | The Nutrition Source
Adriane MarieHi, I'm Adriane, creator of HEALabel! I organize info for you to comprehensively see how purchases impact health, environment, animals and laborers. Stay aware because you care! Subscribe below to get my weekly newsletter with tips, new info and other ethical consumer insight.
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