Kale is a dark, leafy green vegetable packed with nutrients. Cooking kale does not harm these essential vitamins. In fact, if you have a low-thyroid function, cooking kale will deactivate a goitrogenic compound that can impact your thyroid. Baked kale chips can be a crunchy, healthy snack -- but if you're watching your caloric intake, don't add to much oil during the cooking process.
Kale is a cruciferous vegetable, as are broccoli, cabbages, collard, mustard and turnip greens. Kale is an excellent source of vitamins K, A and C and a good source of the minerals manganese, copper, iron and calcium. One cup of fresh kale contains only 36 calories but provides 3 grams of fiber -- 10 percent of the RDA for a 2,000-calorie diet -- and 2 grams of protein. There is no cholesterol and no saturated fat -- just 1 gram of unsaturated fat per cup. Kale is naturally low in sodium and has 30 milligrams per cup.
Although kale can be steamed, sauteed, boiled or eaten raw, baking kale results in a crunchy snack food that is a healthy alternative to potato chips. Simply separate the leaves from the stems, toss the leaves with a bit of olive oil and bake. Some recipes say bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 375 F; other instructions suggest a lower temperature -- about 175 F -- and a longer baking time. When the edges of the kale are brown but not burnt, the kale chips are ready to eat. Because kale leaves are thicker than some other greens, such as spinach, they hold their shape well when baked. A typical baked kale recipe contains 100 calories, 9 grams of fat and 1.5 grams of saturated fat in each serving. If you add salt, you'll increase the sodium content by 130 milligrams per serving over fresh kale.
For people with hypothyroidism, baking kale, rather than eating it raw, will deactivate a chemical compound in the vegetable that can affect thyroid function. Isothiocyanates, found in all cruciferous vegetables, are a goitrogenic chemical. Goitrogens are chemicals that interfere with thyroid hormone production; but only for people who already have impaired thyroid function. People with normal thyroid function will naturally compensate for the goitrogenic activity of kale.
Kale is nutrient-dense, packed with anti-oxidants and according to Dr. Keith Block, medical director at Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment, kale could slow the growth of tumors and the progression of certain cancer cells. In a June 2011 article in the "Chicago Tribune," Block advises people to eat several servings of leafy green vegetables every day and notes that kale is an excellent choice. Baked kale is just as full of these beneficial anti-inflammatory properties as raw kale.
- USDA Nutrient Database: Kale, Raw
- "Chicago Tribune"; Crispy Kale Banishes Munchies Healthfully; Kay Stepkin; June 22, 2011
- Women to Women; Goitrogens and Thyroid Health -- The Good News!; Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP; May 2011
- AllRecipes; Baked Kale Chips; Lucy DelRey
- Whole Foods Market: Oven-Roasted Kale