People are texting and emailing me like crazy about an article that appeared on Mother Jones magazine on July 15 titled, “Sorry, Foodies: We’re About to Ruin Kale.”
Despite the online hysteria, the article did not say that kale makes you sick. It just talks about heavy metals in kale.
Turns out heavy metal is present in most foods. Urban farms, due to pollution, tend to have more, but all studies show that the amounts are below what the WHO/FAO considers dangerous.
I test for heavy metals often. Mercury seems to be the worst offender, probably due to the high fish intake. I haven’t seen arsenic in my patients but arsenic contamination of rice is real.
Heavy metals are worse in soil that has animal waste or products in it, and organic soil often has animal manure in it, so eating organic doesn’t completely rid metals.
Here is the deal. You cannot avoid heavy metals. They are in all of our food. The article implies eating less kale will lead to less metal which is true but only if you eat nothing in its place.
Secondly, we really don’t know what the effects of the metals are. At the current levels in our food Mercury in fish and arsenic in rice may be harmful but the thallium and cadmium levels are within standards depending on where you get your food. The idea that people are getting sick from kale though is utterly ridiculous.
One of the worst heavy metal is heme iron. Found in meat, it has been directly implicated in diabetes and heart disease, but nobody reacts when articles come out saying meat is bad for you.
Bottom line: eat your kale. The kale movement has done wonders for people’s health. The antioxidants will protect you against pollutants. So eat your kale and get healthy and stop worrying.