Kale has been doted on and loved by many these last few years. No longer a green garnish on buffet tables, it’s been juiced and sauteed and fried and roasted into chips by vegans to the proudest meat eaters. Lately however, now that we’re deep into our obsession with kale (Beyonce included), we’re being told that kale is not as healthy as we all thought it was. In fact, it can actually be poisonous and it can make your hair fall out. #SayWhat?!
Ernie Hubbard, a molecular biologist at the Preventive Medical Center of Marin in Marin County, California, recently reported to Crafsmanship his findings on the side effects of consuming “too much” kale. His list of patient symptoms included “fatigue, heart arrhythmia, nausea, digestive trouble, neurological problems, and hair loss.” This is a lot to take in about our current favorite green vegetable. We needed a moment to get our minds right after reading that. The culprit it turns out is the soil–yes, even for organic kale. Researchers surmise it could be from all of the fracking and oil drilling that eventually pollutes our water supplies. Kale along with cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and collard greens are “hyperaccumulators” of heavy metals like thallium and cesium in comparison to some other vegetables. Thallium was often used to formulate rat poison. It’s also tasteless and odorless, and can cause the fatigue, heart arrhythmia, nausea, digestive trouble, neurological problems, and hair loss we mentioned earlier. The part that really had our eyebrows raised was that even after cutting out kale for a while, participants in this study still had thallium in their systems.
So does kale make your hair fall out? Hubbard seems to think so. One of Hubbard’s clients, Laura Fenamore, a healthy, middle-aged vegetarian who works out “for two hours every day,” starting losing her hair “in clumps.” Her favorite vegetables were kale and cabbage which she ate, “Pretty much every day. I joke with my clients that I’m the cabbage queen,” she says. Her thallium levels were “4,700 times higher than the CDC found in most Americans—at least when they last measured.” They were last measured in 2012. This isn’t the first story we’ve heard of kale causing hair loss though. Just do a Google search and there are more than a few stories online of people noticing serious hair loss after introducing a heavy rotation of kale into their diets.
But there is some good news here. Kale is beneficial to our health and to be honest everything is a little bit poisonous nowadays (not to be at all dismissive of this alarming information but we don’t want you freaking out uncontrollably either). Kale is loaded with calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin K and C and tastes really good. Basically, you can still eat it if you want, but you may want to start cutting back. “We now know that heavy metals are additive and synergistic,” says David Quid, the lead scientist at Doctors Data, who has an PhD in nutritional biochemistry and has been working with Dr. Hubbard in his study. “If you get a little thallium, and a little lead, and a little cadmium in your system, you’ve got one plus one plus one equals five or six, not just three. Of course the symptoms are vague. That’s the point. This stuff bioaccumulates. Down the road, it’s going to kick you in the ass one way or another.” So there it is. From the mouths of researchers. Lay off the hoards of kale folks and cut back to smaller amounts. Start eating more broccoli or brussels sprouts or something until we learn they are killing us too. #vegetableswillbethedeathofus