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Why Kale May Not Always Be a Superfood

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

kale pesticide residue

Story at-a-glance -

  • The government tests the pesticide levels on nearly 41,000 fruits and vegetables, and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) reports the least- and most-contaminated to consumers
  • In 2014, the government reported that 41 percent of tested food samples contained no detectable pesticide residues; in 2015, it was 15 percent, but in 2019, 92 percent showed two to 18 different pesticides on kale alone
  • EWG uses government data and ranks pesticide contamination in fruits and vegetables on an annual basis to submit its annual “Dirty Dozen” list, and in the latest one, kale ranked No. 3
  • While governmental agencies may contend that pesticide residues found in produce are safe and don’t pose risk to consumers’ health, multiple studies show they can cause health problems, particularly in children
  • Children are uniquely susceptible to toxins associated with pesticide residues, with exposure linked to pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function and behavioral problems

Antioxidants, phytonutrients, omega-3s and other benefits that relate to disease resistance, anti-inflammatory effects and other advantages are wonderful features in any food, and all have been observed in kale, the cruciferous vegetable known for its ability to thrive in cold temperatures.

The leafy green vegetable that seemed to win so many positive reviews from health advocates due to kale's incredible list of nutrients — impressive amounts of vitamins A, C and K, antioxidants, sulforaphane, lutein, zeaxanthin and DNA-repairing indole-3-carbinol — has come under some not-so-positive scrutiny.


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