Kale Chips: Weighing the Good and the Bad

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Baked kale chips can make adding kale into your diet a little more appealing and manageable. Its overall culinary versatility makes it effortless to add to any dish. You may think they won’t satisfy your junk food craving, but kale chips can be a great alternative for standard potato chips. Plus, they’re simple to make.

To make kale chips, simply cut out the thick stems, toss in a bowl with olive oil and a seasoning of your choosing (we recommend seasoned salt), and pop in the oven at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes until golden-brown along the edges. Voila! You have a snack that is good for weight management, your heart, your eyesight and even your wallet (a bunch of kale typically runs $2-$3, compared to a $4 bag of chips).

The Good
Weight management
In the long run, substituting your typical high-calorie snacks for kale chips can allow you to lose an extra seven pounds per year. Even when adding olive oil, one serving (about two cups) runs at less than 150 calories.

Heart health
Substituting olive oil (which is a source of monounsaturated fats or “good fats”) for your usual trans-fat-filled snacks will improve your cardiovascular condition.

Eyesight improvement
Forget carrots, one cup of kale contains up to 206 percent of your daily vitamin A, which helps protect the surface of the eye. Kale is a prime source of the nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin, which reduce the risk of eye diseases that may come with age. These cannot be produced by the body itself, but come from the foods you eat.

Overall health and wellbeing
The amount of nutrients in a bunch of kale have immense benefits including antioxidants, which are valuable for your overall wellbeing and can prevent and fight off cardiovascular diseases, inflammation, and even cancer.

Kale contains three main vitamins including 684 percent of your daily intake of vitamin K per cup. This promotes proper blood clotting. It has vitamin A, which aids in healthy vision, bones, skin, and immune system. Lastly, kale contains vitamin C, which acts as a powerful antioxidant.

Kale is rich in fiber, which aids in digestion. It contains iron, protein, potassium and more calcium than a glass of milk. Sounds like this dark leafy green is a powerhouse for health, huh?

The Bad
Although the list of good could be endless, facing reality by highlighting the negatives is the next step. In lieu of cooking the kale, there are a few facts about raw kale worth mentioning. Still, containing a copious amount of nutrients, just like any food, going overboard can have its downfalls.

Promotes Blood Clotting
It’s more case-specific, but if you take blood thinners, consuming too much raw kale can be detrimental considering it promotes blood clotting.

Hard on the digestive system
Especially to those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), the large amount of fiber in kale (14 percent of daily intake per cup) may be too much for the digestive system to handle at one time. It can get stuck in the gut and cause bloating and gas.

It can suppress thyroid function
In certain people, raw kale can cause issues in the function of the thyroid gland. This can be avoided through baking the kale. Overall, it’s a good idea to have a variety of fruits and veggies in your diet, including kale.

But overall, when you have a salty craving, an extra 10-15 minutes to prep and bake a bunch of kale chips has more benefits than negatives for your health.

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