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If you’re like me, you get so much “healthy” kale you start looking for reasons not to eat. It turns out that there is a very good reason not to eat kale—heavy metal contamination, which is worse in organic varieties.

“Nothing is sexier,” Dr. Drew Ramsey says, “than a sharp, happy mind atop a lean, healthy body.” How does this medical doctor propose that we all become sex magnets with our happy brains and beautiful bodies? By eating kale, of course. Some people just can’t get enough kale.

The Nutritional Benefits of Kale

For the few of you who don’t know, kale is a crucifer in the Cabbage Family. It’s actually a variety of the same species of plant that appears as white cabbage, green cabbage, and brussels sprouts. There really are some significant nutritional benefits from eating kale. It’s a great source of vitamin K1. A single serving of kale delivers about 600 percent of the recommended daily intake of this vitamin that is essential for normal blood clotting. Kale is a source of lutein and zeaxanthin, two micronutrients that are very helpful in maintaining eye health. It has more vitamin A than any other leafy green, and there’s as much calcium (although not in a form that’s readily absorbed) in a cup of kale as there is in a cup of milk. Kale is also a great source of alpha-linoleic acid, which the body can transform into useful omega-3 fatty acids, especially when estrogen levels are high.

There are dozens of ways to prepare kale, ranging from Hot Bacon Kale to Kale-Black Cherry Sorbet. It’s cheap, it’s available nearly all year, and no one is going to say you don’t care about health if you serve it. That doesn’t mean that eating kale is always a good idea.

Near-Death by Kale

I’m a good example of how eating too much kale can lead to near-death experiences. I can’t put all the blame on kale. One hot summer day in 2009 I bought a “large” (2-1/2 cup) container of a really tasty kale salad from the deli at Whole Foods. I ate the whole thing for lunch. Then a little later that afternoon I took a spin out to see a farm in the country. On the way back to my home, the two back tires on my SUV blew out, and the battery in my cell phone went dead. I had to walk about 5 km (3 miles) in 110-degree (43 degree C) heat to get back to a location from where I could call a tow truck.

When I finally got to civilization, I was seriously dehydrated. I chugged two whole quarts of ice water. That turned out to be a terrible mistake. The ice water quickly met the kale salad I had digesting in my bowel, and formed some kind of congealed mass (the technical term is a bezoar) in my small intestine. Moreover, the cold water stopped circulation to my colon, so I quickly developed a condition called ischemic colitis. Another two hours passed and I was having a conversation with a surgeon about whether I would have to have an emergency colostomy—then they checked my insurance and decided I wouldn’t. I recovered, after six days in the hospital and six weeks of bed rest, with three more relapses before my colon healed. Most people, however, have a less dramatic issue with kale.

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