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7 min read

Are Kale Chips Healthy? If So, Why?

Vegetables are oneof the most important and least-consumed foods in the American diet. Vegetables may have more health benefits than any other type of food, but some of them taste bitter or bland. Kale is considered a “superfood” by many, but that’s certainly not because of its taste.

Kale chips can be healthy when baked with light seasoning in olive oil and consumed in moderation. This method retains the nutritional value of raw kale, a low-calorie, and heart-healthy superfood. If fried, prepared in other fats like butter, or heavily seasoned, kale chips can be unhealthy.

Kale has fiber and other micronutrients that make you healthier, particularly if your diet is lacking in those areas. Kale chips are a healthy snack, which can help you get more vegetables in your diet. There's a lot more to love about these little super-chips too.

Do Kale Chips Help You Lose Weight?

Kale chips can be helpful snacks for losing weight when used as a replacement for high-calorie foods. As a replacement for high-calorie snacks, kale chips are more nutrient-dense and less calorie-dense. Kale chips will help you feel fuller and need fewer calories, key ingredients to weight loss.

Weight loss is a complex process, and no single food will make a big difference. Eating kale can help you achieve a negative energy balance if used strategically. Here's what you need to know about it.

Negative Energy Balance 101

Negative energy balance over a period of time causes weight loss. You can think of energy balance as a scale. On one side of the scale is all of the energy (food) you consume throughout the day. On the other side of the scale are all of the calories you burn.

The bulk of the calories you burn come from something calledresting metabolic rate, which is the amount of energy you burn at rest. Your body is constantly making new cells, digesting food, and producing energy to fuel your brain and muscles.

All of these processes require energy, soyour body is constantly burning calories even if you’re not moving.

If you eat more calories than you burn, the scales tip towards the side of positive energy balance, and vice versa. To lose weight, you need to consistently burn more calories than you eat.

While you can try to exercise enough that you’re burning calories every day, it can be exhausting and time-consuming.

Cutting down on excess calories makes it easier to lose weight, tipping the scales in favor of a negative energy balance, and kale chips can help you do that.

Fewer Calories, More Nutrients

It would be incorrect to say that eating a certain food can help you lose weight, but you can use kale chips to replace higher-calorie foods.Think of them as an alternative to other snack foods, or you can use them as a side dish to replace unhealthy foods like french fries.

Kale chips have fewer calories than unhealthier snack alternatives like potato chips, particularly if they’re not fried and are minimally seasoned.

Plus, eating kale chips can make you feel more full than less-healthy snacks, which helps you consume fewer calories throughout the day. In general,eating more fruits and vegetables will help you curb hunger and lose weight.

One way to think of this is thatkale is more nutrient-dense than potato chips, but less calorie-dense.

If you look at a serving of kale versus potato chips, you might notice that the kale serving simply looks bigger. 

Potato chips and other unhealthy snacks, such as candy bars, have a ton of calories packed into a small amount of food, meaning you can eat more without getting full. Kale is the opposite.

Are Kale Chips High In Calories?

Kale chips are low in calories when compared to similar snacks, so long as they are prepared in healthy ways, such as baked with light seasoning and a low amount of olive oil. Kale chips can easily be high in calories by preparing them with unhealthy oils, sauces, and seasonings.

Most people use kale chips as a way to cut out a bad habit of potato chips or other salty snacks. So in that light, let's have a look at how kale chips compare to potato chips - we'll use a few popular store brands of both for consistency in the comparison.

Kale Chips Vs Potato Chips

We'll compare one serving size (one ounce) of Rhythm Kale Chips to one serving size (one ounce) of Lay's Potato Chips for this exercise.

Rhythm Kale Chips - 1-Ounce of Zesty Nacho:

  • Calories: 130
  • Fat: 9 grams
  • Carbs: 8 grams
  • Protein: 5 grams
  • Fiber: 3 grams

LAY'S - 1-Ounce of Classic Potato Chips:

  • Calories: 160
  • Fat: 10 grams
  • Carbs: 15 grams
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Fiber: 1 gram

Just by comparing store brands, you can see that kale chips have around 20% fewer calories than potato chips. Plus, they have more fiber and protein.

Recipe for Making Baked Kale Chips at Home

Another benefit of kale chips is that they’re easy to make at home, which tends to be a healthier alternative than buying from the store because you can control the ingredients.

It's rather easy to make delicious baked kale chips; the kale chips recipe below from Kaiser Permanente has 190 calories per serving, but the serving size is much larger than the Rhythm Kale Chips analysis above.

Baked Kale Chips Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of kale
  • Salt to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons of furikake (or your choice of seasoning, just keep it light!)

Baked Kale Chips Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 275 degrees
  2. Remove the kale leaves from the thick stems, and break the kale leaves into more bite-sized portions
  3. Drizzle olive oil on top, dash with seasoning and a pinch of salt
  4. Bake at 275 degrees for 20 minutes or until the edges of the kale leaves are a lighter hue of brown

And that's all it takes for delicious homemade kale chips - see, we told you it was easy!

There are roughly 10 grams of fat, 22 grams of carbs, and 8 grams of protein in a serving of this baked kale chips recipe. 

Are Kale Chips Heart-Healthy?

Kale chips are considered heart-healthy snacks due to their fiber density and flavonoids. High-fiber diets have been associated with lower blood pressure, which helps avoid heart disease. Flavonoids contain antioxidants that can eliminate free radicals, which are dangerous for the heart.

Kale and some other leafy greens and vegetables contain fiber and flavonoids as well, so it isn't the only one with this effect. But, kale is certainly packed full of them. 

Fiber Supports a Healthy Heart

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that your body has trouble processing. As a result, it goes through your digestive system mostly unchanged.

Eating kale chips can help you reach your daily fiber goals, which are 38 and 25 grams for men and women, respectively, who are under the age of 50. Those numbers go down to 30 and 21 grams for men and women over the age of 50. 

Eating more fiber can have a big impact on your heart health, in fact,people who eat high-fiber diets tend to live longer than people who eat less fiber. Lifespan certainly isn't solely dependent on fiber intake, because many things factor into a lifespan, but it’s an interesting statistic nonetheless.

Some of the benefits of eating fiber are fairly certain, while others require more research. For example:

  • Fiber May Lower LDL: Eating more fiber might decrease your LDL cholesterol, which is the bad kind of cholesterol that causes heart problems, but more research is needed for higher confidence.
  • Fiber Does Lower Blood Pressure:Researchers were fairly confident that eating more fiber can lower blood pressure, which is a critical factor in heart disease. 

Flavonoids Lower Blood Pressure

Kale, like most other leafy greens, is rich in something called flavonoids. Flavonoids are compounds commonly found in plants that help protect your heart by acting as an antioxidant in the body to fight inflammation.

Flavonoids do quite a few positive things for your heart, including:

Grab A Handful of Kale Chips

There are some downsides to kale chips that we didn't get into in this article, but you can find the good, the bad, andother recipes in SHEFIT's article that examines the pros and cons of this crispy superfood known as kale chips.

But now and then you need a good snack, and it can be hard to satisfy your cravings with fruits or vegetables. Kale chips offer the perfect solution, a salty and crispy vegetable you can munch on while watching TV or working.

If you're using kale chips as a replacement for something like potato chips, you can hopefully feel better about the switch. Between the fiber and flavonoids, you've made a better decision for your heart with this simple move.Plus, if you're on a weight loss journey, you now know that kale chips are lower in calories than comparable snacks like salty chips.

If you struggle to get your vegetables, kale chips are the perfect alternative. And making kale chips is just about as easy as consuming kale chips, so it's an accessible way to a healthy alternative for those high-calorie snacks. If making kale chips is too much of a chore, simply grab a bag from the store.

Even if you don’t enjoy kale in its raw form, you might love kale chips, you're heart certainly will.