Find out about your favorite green veggie.
For the past several years, kale has been the 'it' vegetable. Whether it's the base for salads, tossed in smoothies, or baked into crispy chips, this leafy green has become a staple of healthy eating. Despite its reputation as a superfood, there has been mention in some circles about raw kale's potential to negatively impact your health and hormones. But is there any truth to these statements?
In short: Yes and no. Kale, and other cruciferous veggies like cauliflower or Brussels sprouts, contain cancer-fighting compounds called glucosinolates. While on the surface these sound (and are) wonderful for your health, glucosinolates also contain a compound known as thiocyanates that might hinder your thyroid (which controls your metabolism). Cooking kale will stop any thiocyanates from being released, but when eaten raw the compounds are still present. Reading this may throw any kale lover into a panic, but there's actually not that much reason to worry.
Cooking Light's Food and Nutrition Director, Brierley Horton, M.S., R.D., doesn't want you to give up your leafy greens just yet. "You'd have to eat an exorbitant amount of raw kale or other raw cruciferous vegetables for this to have an affect on a healthy person's thyroid," said Horton. "The benefit of eating these vegetables usually outweighs any potential negatives."
For the average person, consuming a few ounces of kale daily is a healthy option. But for anyone suffering hypothyroidism (which is determined with a simple blood test) or other thyroid-related issues, it's a good idea to check with your doctor before regularly consuming raw cruciferous vegetables. One way to see if these vegetables are affecting you, even if you've been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, is to eat as much of these foods as you want for a few weeks, then get re-tested at the doctor's to see how it may have impacted your thyroid function.
Bottom line: As long as you don't already have a thyroid issue, and you're not consuming pounds and pounds of raw cruciferous veggies daily, then it's unlikely you'll experience negative side effects by eating kale and other cruciferous vegetables.