Killer Kale

Killer kale. (Wikipedia)

Killer kale. (Wikipedia)

Did you know that kale, superfood of the gods and your juicer, can kill you? Like literally, kill you? And not just in the “If I have to drink one more green juice, I will shoot myself in the face” kind of way?

We’ve known it was time for a kale backlash for awhile, even before anyone read Jennifer Berman’s piece in The New York Times, about how her doctor diagnosed her with hypothyroidism and told her not to eat 2013′s trendiest roughage. Somehow this landed Ms. Berman in some sort of Sleeper-like reality, where she discovered everything that was good for her (vegetables, non-fluoride toothpastes, brushing after meals, soy, flax,) was actually bad, and vice versa. (“You’d be better off with chocolate and cola,” her doctor jeered when she told him about juicing carrots and celery.)

Sure, this wave of anti-Kaleism (which somehow also include kale advocates?) could be dismissed as anti-trend proselytizing, which can be just as annoyingly preachy as the first wave of food fad devotees. But consider this post from Shape, which admittedly had a pretty skeptical take on the whole killer kale phenomenon:

“ Very high intakes of cruciferous vegetables…have been found to cause hypothyroidism (insufficient thyroid hormone) in animals (68). There has been one case report of an 88-year-old woman developing severe hypothyroidism and coma following consumption of an estimated 1.0 to 1.5 kg/day of raw bok choy for several months. Two mechanisms have been identified to explain this effect. The hydrolysis of some glucosinolates found in cruciferous vegetables (e.g., progoitrin) may yield a compound known as goitrin, which has been found to interfere with thyroid hormone synthesis. The hydrolysis of another class of glucosinolates, known as indole glucosinolates, results in the release of thiocyanate ions, which can compete with iodine for uptake by the thyroid gland. Increased exposure to thiocyanate ions from cruciferous vegetable consumption or, more commonly, from cigarette smoking, does not appear to increase the risk of hypothyroidism unless accompanied by iodine deficiency. One study in humans found that the consumption of 150 g/day (5 oz/day) of cooked Brussels sprouts for four weeks had no adverse effects on thyroid function.

Yes, as the piece points out, that amount is equal to eating 15+ cups a day of the cruciferous greens, (like kale or bok choy). And yes, most things, in large enough quantities, will make you stop breathing. And yes, this kale thing seems only to be a problem for people with hypothyroidism.

Not to mention the fact that kale carries many of the food born illnesses in the U.S.

Still, at least one person has died from eating these superfoods, so feel free to lord that over your smug Juice Press cleansers come Fashion Week.