Happy National Kale Day All You Haters

PHOTO: October 1st is National Kale Day. Elisa Cicinelli/Getty Images
October 1st is National Kale Day.

Dr. Drew Ramsey has started a Change.org petition to declare today, the first Wednesday in October, National Kale Day.

“National Kale Day is a celebration that aims to increase awareness, access, and education about the positive health benefits of eating more kale,” said Ramsey, a practicing psychiatrist who also happens to be coauthor of the book, 50 Shades of Kale.

Ramsey, who once spent an entire week carefully styling kale leaves with a tweezers for a series of photo shoots, said he considers Kale his muse. He crusades for the coarse cruciferous veggie, he said, because it is economical, packed with nutrients and a versatile recipe ingredient.

“If we all ate more kale we could save the planet,” he said.

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Kale is definitely having a moment. By some standards, including an analysis by Technomic, a food industry consulting group,the use of kale as a menu item has increased by over 400 percent in the past five years. And Whole Foods does a brisk business in kale, selling 20,000 bunches daily nationwide.

While most nutrition experts generally agree that Kale is a healthy food, some find the sudden rush of kale love puzzling.

“I’m not against kale. Kale is fine. But when did kale get a public relations manager?” asked Mary Hartley, the registered dietitian in residence for the website, dietsinreview.com.

Hartley said that kale is indeed a nutritionally dense food. It delivers a whopping 1,000 percent of the daily recommended allowance for vitamin K and nearly 100 percent of the daily recommended intake of both vitamin A and C, according to the U.S Department of Agriculture nutritional database. Not to mention it offers a healthy dose of at least a dozen other essential vitamins and minerals.

But watercress, chard, mustard greens and even the lowly leaf lettuce rival or even surpass its vitamin, mineral and fiber content. Kale ranked a mere 15 out of 47 in a new study of super foods by William Patterson University, behind more pedestrian produce such as parsley, cabbage, and the aforementioned leafy greens.

Kale is in the spotlight now because everyone – not just nutrition nuts – feel righteous and noble when they make chips out of it, blend it into a smoothie or build a salad around it, Harley speculated. But she still finds its trendiness baffling.

“It’s raspy stuff and so darn green,” she said, adding that it’s so tough it must be massaged for several minutes to make it chewable.

She also pointed out to possible evidence that it overdosing on it -- or any other cruciferous veggie such as broccoli or cauliflower – could theoretically interfere with the thyroid gland’s ability to uptake iodine potentially leading to a condition called hypothyroidism.

Ramsey, however, has no patience for kale deniers.

“I can’t remember this much crazy excitement about a vegetable so it doesn’t make much sense to dissuade people from having a first taste of kale in a smoothie or a sauté,” he said.

Besides, Ramsey added, there’s a national day for an entire assortment of unhealthy fare such as doughnuts, pizza, bacon, pie, sticky buns and pudding.

“We should have at least one day where we celebrate something that’s good for you and I will work tirelessly to promote this holiday,” he said.

Hartley said she has no real argument against a National Kale Day stating, “Anything that gets people to eat more vegetables is fine with me – though I’m holding out hope for a lentil day. Now that would be great.”